What is normal anyway? Holly Bourne has taken on an enormous task in her book Am I normal yet? Mental illnesses are not quite the main stream in YA fiction yet, although very diverse topics are dealt with in a number of new books. It is easy to understand the lack of this topic – it is incredibly difficult to cover well.
But for Bourne, it seems easy. Am I normal yet? is funny, touching and informative. The main character Evie is just like any of us, except not quite. She has OCD and it doesn’t make her teenage life any easier.
Author: Holly Bourne
Publisher: Gummerus Kustannus Oy 2017, Finland (the Finnish edition)
Category: YA fiction
Original language: English
Helmet Reading Challenge 2017, number 20: A book about a disabled or seriously ill person.
After three years fighting against the illness, Evie is returning back to normal life. And she is striving towards the ideal of normality harder than anyone. But it is not easy to be a 16-year-old in a new school, with new friends and a new life, dating lurking around the corner. While performing normality, Evie doesn’t notice that even the apparently normal people have their problems and not always healthy ways to deal with them.
Evie’s struggles are the main theme of the novel, but there’s a very pressing second topic – gender equality and feminism. And this is an area where Holly Bourne truly shines. The feminist girl group called Spinsters formed by Evie and her two new friends, Amber and Lottie, is wild and riveting. In a meeting they make the most innovative marketing plan for tampons, that I’ve ever heard:
“I think it would be lot better if tampons were packed in black boxes and had a chocolate bar as a bonus”.
“And they would have short slogans on them like Blame Eve or This is your burden”, I added. (a quotation from the novel, translation from Finnish to English by me.)
After reading the novel I discovered there actually are black tampon boxes… but no chocolates attached! 😉
Am I normal yet? is the first part in a trilogy, which tells the stories of Evie, Amber and Lottie. I will definitely dive in to the lives of Evie’s two best friends. Holly Bourne has the skill to write about meaningful, serious issues in a humorous, entertaining way and treat her characters with respect.
“Evie wants to be normal more than anything else. After losing three years of her life to a battle against OCD, she starts at a new school, in which no-one knows her as the-girl-who-lost-it (but perhaps as a cinema buff).
Finally Evie has the courage to go on dates too. Relationships can mess up anyone’s head and Evie begins to drift back into the world of obsessive behaviour. But how could her new friends, artistic Amber and fearless feminist Lottie, help her, when Evie doesn’t want to tell about her problems to anyone?”
Tampons in a black box (but no chocolates):
Or a more sustainable version for the vampire fans: Vampire tea bags