Friday, March 14, 2014

Review: Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens

Faking Normal 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.

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

My Review:

I thought this book was so amazing, and I flew through it quickly because I found it so difficult to put down.  From the beginning, I was invested in the characters and the story.  I love all the characters...well, aside from some of them that I didn't love, but I'll go more into that later in the review.


Alexi is dealing with so much at the beginning of, and throughout, this book.  She has her ways of coping, but these ways involve self-harm.  Her emotions are portrayed so well, and you can really feel how painful the entire situation is for her.  The book shows her mixed feelings of hurt and guilt.  Alexi thinks about how she never said no, and it's clear that she blames herself for that, and she hasn't really come to terms with the fact that, just because she never said no, that doesn't make what happened her fault.  She never said yes either, and she was crying while it happened.  Who the rapist actually is is left a mystery for most of the book.  I think this technique worked.  It made the reader wonder about who it could be when reading about the different male characters in the book.  

I love Bodee Lennox so much.  This boy is so amazingly sweet.  He's been dealt some rough things in life.  He lived with an abusive father for years, and his father murdered his mother.  He has his own ways of coping, but he is also so good to Alexi.  When he walks out of his mother's funeral, she follows him out and sits by him silently.  When Alexi's mother invites Bodee to live in their house, a friendship between these two starts to form.  I ship Bodee and Alexi as a couple, and as friends, so much.  I love all the little moments between them, when he makes a seemingly simple gesture that means so much to her, or he is there to help her when she needs help healing.  I rooted for them the whole time.  When Bodee said he liked someone, I hoped that it was Alexi, even though she was dating another guy that her friend set her up with.  

There is a family element in this book as well, showcased through both Alexi and Bodee.  Bodee has lived a pretty rotten life with his family, yet he's also always loved his mom.  She was there to protect him from his father.  She would rather let herself be hurt by him than let Bodee be hurt by him.  It's clear how tough it is for Bodee to move on to life without her.  Alexi's family also plays an important role in the story.  Her parents care about her, but it's clear that they don't know what is going on with Alexi.  They don't notice that anything is wrong with her at all.  Then there's Alexi's rocky relationship with her sister, Kayla.  This isn't something that can be healed automatically, but progress is made between them.

This book also shows the friendship between Alexi, Heather, and Liz.  I have mixed feelings about Heather, because, while she was trying to be a good friend, she spent too much time setting dates up for Alexi when she had no interest in the guys that Heather was trying to set her up with.  She first set her up with a guy named Dane Winters, who we don't learn very much about, and then with Hayden Harper.  I never really liked Hayden's character.  First of all, I was already shipping Alexi and Bodee when Hayden came into the picture, so I couldn't ship her with someone else.  But what really made me dislike him is that he said some pretty insensitive things about rape to Alexi.  He didn't know that she had been raped, but a guy should still never say things like what he said to a girl.  And then, something happened that involved Hayden and Bodee, and he basically threatened Bodee if Alexi wouldn't go out with him again.  So yeah, that wasn't cool at all.  Basically, I didn't like Hayden.

If you like emotional YA contemporary, read this book.


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