Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens
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.
**A big thank you to HarperTeen and Edelweiss for providing me with this eARC!**
I was in no way compensated for this review. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
So, after a bit of a rocky start, I actually quite enjoyed this book. Very early on in the story, I was a bit offended by some of the characters’ thoughts and then I found myself bored. But, I kept on chuggin’ and I’m glad I did, because I ended up enjoying it.
At the beginning of Faking Normal, I thought that there was a little too much focus on the religion stuff. It felt a bit pushy, which I am not a fan of. I don’t mind reading about religious characters whatsoever, but I don’t want them trying to push their religion onto me. Get what I mean? There was a section of Alexi’s thoughts near the beginning of the book that really got to me as well. She made a comment (in her mind) about her friend, Heather, and her non-religious choices. It seemed to me like she was saying that just because Heather doesn’t go to church, that makes her not respect sex or have values or morals. That’s what it sounded like to me. Only church-goers can understand the importance of waiting before they have sex, to make it meaningful. Well, news flash: I waited until I was in love before having sex and I wasn’t a church-goer. I find this to be a rather offensive observation. Not to mention that, after the first bit of the book, religion seems to get thrown out the window a bit and there are a lot of contradictions to this assumption of Alexi’s. (I would totally share the quote here, but I can’t since it’s an ARC and the publisher requested that I don’t).
Alexi is a big pushover. Very passive. No backbone. I’m very conflicted about how I feel about Alexi. Part of me was constantly getting super annoyed with her for not speaking up — not speaking up to guys who take advantage of her and not speaking up about what happened or how she’s truly feeling. She doesn’t talk to her friends, she doesn’t talk to her family, she doesn’t talk to anyone about it. She’s a wreck and needs to talk to somebody. She had come close to talking to Bodee, but always just skirts around the issue. (I’m speaking for the majority of the novel here. She may or may not end up telling someone eventually). But, the other part of me understands. I understand her insecurities and why she keeps it quiet. As an adult, I guess I just want to shake her and tell her to tell somebody so she can deal with it already!! Mixed feelings indeed.
I loved the lyric-writing on the desk thing she had going with some mystery boy who she calls Captain Lyric throughout the novel. I was a bit confused as to how it all worked, though, until the end where it was all explained. But, these were my thoughts before the big discovery and explanations:
It occurred to me that it doesn’t actually make complete sense. She says that the janitor washes the desks every night, so every night the messages are erased. So, how is it possible that they both receive the messages? Alexi gets his message, but how does he get hers?…unless he has a second class later that day. Then, he would leave one in the morning, she would leave one in 4th period, he would see it after 4th period, and then he would leave another the next morning. That’s the only way it would actually work or make sense. So, that’s what I’m going to assume, then: that Captain Lyric has two classes in that room at that desk – one before Alexi and one after.
I thought the writing seemed a tad forced at times. There were a lot of metaphors and similes. It was like the author was trying too hard to be clever. I mainly noticed this at the beginning while I was bored. Though, I still did notice it later, it just didn’t bug me as much.
My reactions while reading
10% – Umm…paranoid much?
23% – Kinda bored…
46% – Aww, poor Bodee 🙁
58% – How do they know that? (The vent counting)
72% – I’m going crazy! Which one is it???
74% – I get it! (I think) And if I’m right: Aww!
78% – Oh snap!
81% – Haha – they’re foot-talking. Cute.
84% – What?! No way.
96% – I knew it!