Hello and happy Wednesday. It’s tough for me to feel represented in the books in English I read because the authors don’t really cater to my demographic, which sucks. I think the only author that I could somewhat relate to is Patricia Engel because she is Colombian and her characters are, too. That being said, there are different layers to my identity and I can feel represented in other ways. To me, YA lacks a lot of representation when it comes to neurodiversity, which is why I was so excited to find a book with a main character who shares a very similar diagnosis with me.
I read Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella between July 5th and 6th, 2019 and gave it five stars. I knew from the start that I was going to enjoy the writing style because I’ve read and loved other Sophie Kinsella books. This one was just brilliant. It keeps the humor of novels like Confessions of a Shopaholic, but the themes are clearly deeper and are dealt with in a very smart, respectful way. I also loved how the reader is hooked from the very first page and they’re just forced to continue reading. That totally happened to me, which is why I devoured this book in two days.
The chapters are really short, which we all know I love, and I also think that makes the book even more addictive. Like I said, I related to Audrey because of her diagnosis, but her parents reminded me a lot of my parents: the neurotic mom and the overeager dad are literally my mom and dad. The type of narration was really nice for me because Audrey, the main character, is talking to the reader. I get that some of you might not like this, but I do, and I think it added more to this particular story.
I would say that this book is a must both for neurotypicals and neurodiverse people. If you have anxiety and/or depressive episodes like Audrey or me, you’ll feel accurately represented, and if you don’t but you want to learn more about this, you might be educated on the subject. To me, at least, the way Audrey approaches and refers to her anxiety was very spot-on, and even her own thoughts about how the way her brain worked made her a freak were some I had when I started going to therapy. It was hard to open up about what I was going through, especially when people wouldn’t get what I was feeling or why because that itself was even more anxiety-inducing. I do not have social anxiety, so I don’t know whether this was well represented in the book.
The format of the book was amazing. I loved that we got different formats, like transcripts of a documentary Audrey was filming as an assignment for her treatment and little notes and texts that she’d exchange with Linus, her love interest. I think that all those additions made the story really come to life because we weren’t just being told of what was going on: we were shown that.
Yes, there is a love interest but no, this is not a romance novel. The plot does not center around a relationship, or at least not your neurotypical kind of thing. I heard someone reviewing this book and saying they didn’t understand how two people could have a relationship if Audrey wouldn’t make eye contact or even look in the direction of another person while talking. While this concern is totally valid, it shows just how we have normalized certain neurotypical behaviors and attitudes. We assume that a romantic relationship involves physical contact and face-to-face conversations, but that is not the case for many people, for many different reasons, and I think part of the educational value of Finding Audrey is showing the readers other ways in which people can interact.
Finally, I loved that Linus wasn’t portrayed as the savior or as the reason why Audrey “got better.” He doesn’t understand why Audrey behaves in certain ways and he thinks she might be able to control them, which, again, is a very neurotypical idea. You’re depressed? Cheer up! You’re feeling anxious? Face your fears! It makes sense that someone would think like that, right? Especially when they haven’t experienced any of those thoughts. It also makes sense because they assume that one can control their brain and “tune it down,” but reality is different. Linus tried to help and tried to understand, but we could see that sometimes he didn’t and that it was fine.
Do you have any recommendations of books that deal with mental health issues and that you feel are accurate in their representation? Tell me about them in the comments below.
Love, Miss Camila