‘How can I expect people to empathize with a sickness they can’t see?’ (126)
Under Rose Tainted Skies is a wonderfully honest story with an absolutely fantastic protagonist. Norah is funny, up front, and genuine. I am so pleased Laura recommended this book to me because I really enjoyed it.
Anxiety doesn’t just stop. You can have nice moments, minutes where it shrinks, but it doesn’t leave. It lurks in the background like a shadow, like that important assignment you have to do but keep putting off or the dull ache that follows a three-day migraine. The best you can hope for is to contain it, make it as small as possible so it stops being intrusive. (91-92)
Norah’s life revolves around her fears, whether they be of the unknown outside her doorstep, or the fear of a car crash, or even odd numbers. She’s worked out a pretty good coping system by now, and spends her days indoors and taking online courses. However, when her new neighbor moves in and sees past her defenses, Norah must question parts of this life she has created. How can they be together and how does this fit into her own life?
Norah is a protagonist that I really can relate to and connect with. She is so clever, kind of a nerd, and honest about her mental health. Her tone and narrative is both compelling and genuine, at times moving us and others making us laugh out loud. Norah’s battle with her fears is incredibly real and she deals with issues such as agoraphobia, hypochondria, and self-harm. It paints a vivid picture of Norah’s entire journey with her mental health from reflecting on her beginning, to how she copes with it now.
The story is entirely centered around her experiences and growth, making it wonderful, humbling, and illuminating. Gornall balances the big and the small from our first crush to our fears of Ebola. Not to mention that Gornall has written a mother character that I have fallen in love with. She says, ‘Beauty comes from how you treat people and how you behave. If a little lipstick makes you smile, then you should wear it and forget what anyone else thinks’ (234). Her mom is totally supportive, nerdy, and amazingly compassionate. Their relationship warms my heart and it’s so great to see such supportive parents in fiction, YA, and mental health stories.
What Makes it Good
Not offering any easy solutions, this book does not get caught in the “love cures all” trope which is problematic. Her journey and the ending of this book does not offer us a cookie cutter ending. Additionally, the author’s note at the end is wonderful to read, giving some insight into the story and is something you shouldn’t miss.
Gornall describes Norah as “a poster child for self-sabotage: she makes mistakes, she breaks, she fails, and she hurts, but she doesn’t give up. She’s a warrior, slaying demons every time she swallows food when she’s afraid of choking, killing malevolent beasts with every morbid thought she banishes. Norah triumphs—it comes at a cost, but she does triumph” (327-328). Can I just mention that not only is the cover gorgeous, but the title and the picture is so accurately spot on! I do not want to spoil that discovery for you, but once it all clicks in place, you will love it even more.
I am so happy I read this book recommendation and I will be trying to read all of the books Laura has recommended. This book is a fantastic introduction to mental health book, if it’s the first you’ve read, but also one that is just overall great.
What’s the last book you read that deals with mental health?
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