I’ve always found Sophie Kinsella’s writing style — particularly her rapid-fire, bubbly dialogue — perfect for the young adult audience, and so found it surprising that she had never written anything specifically marketed/sold as YA lit. And here we (finally) are with her first.
It has all the favourite hallmarks of a Sophie Kinsella novel, but also takes it a step further by dealing with the very mature topic of mental illness in teens. Specifically, Kinsella tackles social anxiety, general anxiety disorder, and depressive episodes — all of which plague our titular heroine, Audrey. While it’s clear that mild forms of these issues existed already in Audrey, an “incident” involving other girls exasperated these to such a degree that Audrey was rendered entirely incapacitated for daily life. In a masterstroke of storytelling, Ms. Kinsella makes a point to never detail the specifics of what occurred to Audrey: we don’t need to know the specifics, because we can already see the very real effects, physical and mental/emotional, that this “incident” had upon her. And, honestly, I didn’t want to know the details; it felt personal, as if I would have been prying far too deeply and closely into Audrey’s life.
If that isn’t a good sign of character creation and development, I don’t know what is. Audrey felt real enough that I didn’t even want to know the details of her background, because it felt like prying and made me uncomfortable to even consider it. Brava, Ms. Kinsella.
As someone who suffers from anxiety and depression, I can say that, on those fronts, Ms. Kinsella nails it. I easily recognize many of the things Audrey experiences as things which I, myself, have encountered as well. And I think that Audrey is lucky enough to have people like her brother, her parents, and Linus in her life who — while not always understanding exactly what is happening inside her head or how she feels — are patient and willing enough to work with Audrey to help her get better and make her feel safe/happy in her environment.
On that note: her mum is completely mental. She was maybe the one character I took issue with in the entire novel. What started out as kind of funny and a little bit understanding went just a hair overboard at one point in the novel. Perhaps this is because my own perspective is that of a young adult and not that of a parent, but I didn’t like the book any less for that.
My only true complaint is that I wish I’d had more — I enjoyed this book so much that I was sad when it ended at only just under 290 pages.