Published June 9th 2015 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
An anxiety disorder disrupts fourteen-year-old Audrey’s daily life. She has been making slow but steady progress with Dr. Sarah, but when Audrey meets Linus, her brother’s gaming teammate, she is energized. She connects with him. Audrey can talk through her fears with Linus in a way she’s never been able to do with anyone before. As their friendship deepens and her recovery gains momentum, a sweet romantic connection develops, one that helps not just Audrey but also her entire family. (Goodreads)
As always I took that synopsis from Goodreads, but it really does not do the book any justice. In fact when I read this story I pictured Audrey much older, maybe 17 or 18 even. I do not believe the book makes mention of her age, and the themes it deals with are timeless so really it can be any age. There are several conflicts confronted within this story of Audrey’s anxiety and panic attacks. First and foremost there is the story of Audrey. The writing style is chatty and conversational and reads like a diary in many ways (not so much in the traditional sense). Some may find it a bit quirky but it’s actually quite enjoyable and easy to read. There is also the bonus of Audrey’s documentary she does as part of her therapy homework. It added another element to the story with its script every once in awhile, plus it allowed the reader to explore even more of the family dynamics.
Yes, this book is cute, but it deals with mental illness responsibly. Another great part about this book was we were able to “attend” therapy sessions with Audrey rather than hear about them. As with typical contemporary there was the romance element. It wasn’t forced and instead of becoming a cure, it became an extension of exposure therapy and in some cases the pitfall of panic attacks. It was realistic.
Characters – There was a short cast of characters, but each one meant something within the story. Although the focus may have been on Audrey there were definitely other family crisis’s in place to deal with. I found these just as enjoyable, and often hilarious. It added humor that was lacking from the difficult issue of mental illness. Linus was by far too cute and although at first the name didn’t appeal to me I grew to love him.
Setting – the home, therapy sessions, Starbucks (yes!), a park
Plot – the story begins with what in the world happened to make this mother possible throw this computer out the window. There are 3 main story lines: Audrey’s, Frank’s, and the family’s. All of them are relevant and all of them are enjoyable and realistic.
Conflict- mental illness, anxiety, panic attacks
Resolution – I was content with this conclusion. It wasn’t all roses, but it was satisfying.
A question I think a lot of readers will have is, “Why don’t we ever find out what exactly happened to Audrey?”
In a recent Bustle article, Kinsella answers this question:
“I did consider revealing what happened to Audrey — but then decided against. I feel strongly that if you start to think ‘This event caused this reaction and was responsible for Audrey’s condition,’ you actually relate less to Audrey’s predicament. So many teenagers these days suffer from anxiety, I wanted them to be able to relate to Audrey and not feel, “I didn’t have that event happen to me so I’m not like her.” It is also the case, as Audrey says in the book, that some things should be kept private; they’re not for sharing. I want readers who are suffering from anxiety like Audrey to feel that they don’t have to share everything. It’s important for some things to remain private.”
I am torn between 4 and 5 stars. So I suppose 4.5 stars! If you suffer from anxiety or panic attacks or would like to broaden your mental illness library I recommend picking this one up.