Friday, 21 February 2014

ARC Review: Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens

Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens
Release Date: February 25th 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins Childrens Books
Buy: Amazon | Book Depository
Goodreads Summary

An edgy, realistic, and utterly captivating novel from an exciting new voice in teen fiction.

Alexi Littrell hasn't told anyone what happened to her over the summer. Ashamed and embarrassed, she hides in her closet and compulsively scratches the back of her neck, trying to make the outside hurt more than the inside does.

When Bodee Lennox, the quiet and awkward boy next door, comes to live with the Littrells, Alexi discovers an unlikely friend in "the Kool-Aid Kid," who has secrets of his own. As they lean on each other for support, Alexi gives him the strength to deal with his past, and Bodee helps her find the courage to finally face the truth.

“I’m fresh out of happy”
Aren’t we all? With my philosophical thought of the day out of the way, I can focus more seriously on this review. Which is going to be hard when all I want to do is NOT write this review. Am I allowed to post my incomprehensible notes and call it a day? I am not whining or lazing off, I just have no idea how to write a review for this book.

I don’t know where to start.

Should I start with the highlight of this book or the main character? Or perhaps the one drawback of this book as a whole.

I went into this book with a very vague idea about what I should expect. I hadn’t read any of the reviews and even when this book tempted to read them, I didn’t give in. I marched on and well I think it was for the best since it gave me the opportunity to read without any sort of bias.

This book opened on a very touching note. It opened not with the main character as the centre of attention but someone else who was dealing with the aftermath of a heart wrenching tragedy. The main character who understands what it’s like to lose something, understands pain is the one who walks up to offer comfort to the said person. She doesn’t push him, she doesn’t say anything, she just comforts him with her presence and that’s scene was just touching.

The main character, as you can guess, was raped and this book’s focus is on her healing process. She hides her pain and her misery so as to save her family and friends the pain it would bring them. She blames herself for what happened and she has no outlet for all this pain so she scratches her neck. She hides in the closet and tires to count vents or anything to take her mind off of what happened, anything that will let her get some sort of sleep. Anything. Alexi is not a completely likeable character. Her actions are understandable, you sympathize with her but it’s hard to admire her all the time because she is so afraid. She cannot bring herself to openly admit what happened (she hates using the ‘r’ word to describe her rapist), she sympathizes with her rapist and she refuses to tell anyone. However, unlike some of the other female protagonists I’ve encountered in similar situations, she doesn’t close herself off from family and friends; she is still social to a certain extent. Her story is just heartbreaking. It closes a fist around your heart and makes it hard to breathe because of the amount of sadness rolling off the pages.

Bodee is the highlight of this book. WITHOUT A DOUBT. He is one of the most unique male leads I’ve encountered and I may or may not have fallen in insta-love with him. I don’t know how to say anything about him. I don’t. He is just the most wonderful person ever. He never pushes Alexi but supports her in his own way. He is heartbroken about what happened with his mother yet he still has the ability to stay strong for Alexi. He is not ultra-hot, nor bulging with muscles. He isn’t the Goth kid. He is just the kid no one really cares about and sticks a label on (his was Kool-aid kid) and as you get to know him better, you cannot help but fall head over heels for him.

Captain Lyric also held an important part in Alexi’s healing journey. He remains anonymous for the most part but his identity wasn’t a secret to me. It was blaringly obvious and I don’t think I’ve ever been happier about being right. I loved his reasons for doing what he did because without him Alexi would be lost. She wouldn’t have survived. She needed something to look forward to and he gave her that and I just love his role in her journey.

The romance, as everyone can imagine was sweet and slow to develop and just all around wonderful. I just wish I could hug these two individuals and take their pain away. I love how they were supportive of each other and always gave the other a shoulder to lean on and their journey from acquaintances to friends to something more was beautiful.

The one thing that really nagged on me was the identity of the rapist. I guessed it at one point but it wasn’t because of some subtle hint. It was because of what I know from other rape cases. It was almost random. I felt like the author chose that individual for the emotional impact it would have on the reader and it bothered me. There weren’t enough hints and the attitude of the individual was not consistent in the two halves of the book. I get what she’s trying to do here, she is trying to tell us that a person isn’t always a monster, things aren’t so black and white but in my world, they kind of are. My heart broke for the family and not the individual. The individual was in the wrong and that is that. I don’t really care about whether they are good or bad, when you do what they did, there are no fucking excuses.

In the end though, this book was so emotionally powerful. It was touching. It was heart wrenching. And it was just beautiful.

This is a story about finding yourself; about putting back the pieces after life strikes at you and about healing and I would definitely recommend this to fans of What Happens Next or people just looking for a story that doesn’t completely mess up with such a touchy issue. 


  1. The reviews for this book have been so positive that I really need to get my hands on a copy soon. This sounds so emotional, especially with the healing process involved after Alexi gets raped because that stuff affects you physically and mentally. Glad that you also loved Bodee and Captain Lyric's characters. Great review, Rashika! <33

  2. Uh huh.. cannot spoil anything but you're thinking along the right lines.

  3. I hope you enjoy it as well, Missie! :)

  4. I KNOW! The only not so positive review I saw wasn't negative either, a 3.5 star rating is still pretty good! :)

    Thanks Eileen! :)

  5. I love when an author can tackle an issue like this in a serious way, I'll be sure to check this one out. The romance sounds really sweet and it's great when it has a slow build. The predictability of the rapist wouldn't bother me because like you said, it's usually fairly easy to use what you know to guess. Great review :)

  6. The thing with this one was that it wasn't the predictability that bothered me but the fact that there weren't enough clues to figure out who it was. I mean the author kept on fooling us into thinking it was someone else but when we found out who it was, the identity came out of nowhere.
    Thanks! :)


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