Review: Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens

Faking Normal by
Courtney C. Stevens
Published by HarperCollins Children’s Books
on February 25, 2014.
Hardcover, 336 pages. $17.99 US

  From Goodreads:

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.

A searing, poignant book, Faking Normal is the extraordinary debut novel from an exciting new author-Courtney C. Stevens.

Dear Book Reader,

Since finishing this book, I’ve been trying to find the words to describe just how I feel about it.  Honestly, it’s not that easy because bits of this story really hit home for me.  I get Alexi, the need to escape from the emotional pain by causing physical pain to self and the need to pretend everything is okay.  I get the lack of trust and then having that one person I can spill everything to come into my life.  I just get Alexi on so many levels.

Alexi is dealing with two very big secrets that no one can find out.  She’s dealing with her form of self-injury to numb the pain someone else has caused.  The pain caused by this someone else happened at a summer event.  Een worse, it was someone Alexi knew and was around – a lot.  Someone who was close enough to be considered family.  Alexi was keeping the secret as a way of protection.  She was simply just trying to survive the best way she knew how.

Then there’s Bodee, aka Kool-Aid Kid.  Bodee is going through his own struggles after losing his mother very suddenly – by his father’s hand no less.  Bodee’s home life, which was already falling apart, has now shattered.  Alexi’s parents reach out and Bodee comes to live with them.  Thanks to the generosity of Alexi’s parents, life is about to change for her and Bodee.

As Alexi and Bodee move through this new living arrangement, secrets that were so carefully tucked away start to see light.  The way they both cope with the events in their life are shared.  With each other they start to find some healing.  All of this happens while navigating high school classes, friendships and relationships.  Together, they help and encourage each other to find the voice they never had, and step out of the darkness and into the light.

What happened after Bodee and Alexi found their voices to speak up?

Why was “no” so difficult for Alexi to say?

Why was Bodee called Kool-Aid Kid?

I hated when I had to put this book down because the need to sleep took over.  I’ve had books I couldn’t put down until I had to sleep, but this book was just so different.  I wanted to know what was going to happen next, what choice Alexi was going to make, and how those choices would further impact her life.

The writing of this book was superb!  Each character had their own personality, style, and voice.  None of which seemed forced.  Courtney approached some very serious topics in this book in a very real, well versed way.  Faking Normal had emotion from start to finish.  Despite the seriousness of the topics, I found it to be refreshing, a new side of life.  I still don’t find all of these words to be adequate enough to tell of this impact this book has made in my own life.

This book could help those that are facing the same secrets and struggles that Alexi is facing.  Self-injury is not the way to cope with the emotional pain/abuse you’re feeling.  This is coming from someone who is in recovery for self-injury.  If you’ve been abused in any way, speak up.  Courtney includes resources in the back of the book for those that need encouragement to seek help.  There is help out there and there is no shame in asking for it.

Someone may need you to be their Bodee (and I’m grateful for my Bodee!).

There is freedom for whatever you or the person you know is going through.

Stars: *****+ (really, there aren’t enough in the universe)

Recommend: This is a must read!

Read On,

Liz

This book was checked out at my awesome public library.

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