by Sophie Kinsella
Rating: 4/5 stars
Audrey is a high school student who has taken a medical leave of absence from school due to her severe anxiety disorder. As she puts it, her “lizard brain” (the portion responsible for fight or flight responses) is overactive and she constantly has to talk herself down in situations as harmless as having her brother’s friends coming over to visit. Something happened to Audrey in school between some other girls that has resulted in her being extremely wary of people outside her comfort zone.
As part of her therapy, Audrey takes active measures to improve her disorder as the date for her re-enrollment in school looms closer. This begins with her brother’s friend Linus. When he comes over to play video games, Audrey and him begin a shaking friendship that gives her the encouragement she needs in order to attempt interacting with strangers and the world outside her home. With a promising start Audrey is excited to be “cured” and begins attempting bigger challenges to prove that her need for medication and extra care is unnecessary. However, Audrey must learn that she, just like everybody, will have some set backs in life and that those set backs do not mean that things aren’t improving overall.
Review: I thought this was an utterly adorable story. Kinsella highlights a very serious condition, showing how it can definitely affect someone’s quality of life while also maintaining the natural sense of humor that Audrey had prior to her breakdown. Although I found Audrey’s mom to be a bit obnoxious when I first started the novel, she quickly grew on me and I found many of her antics really hilarious as the story unfolded. I also felt that the mom’s overbearing concern with computer games, junk food, and whatever else the media says is bad for kids, shows how almost helpless her mom felt. As much as she tried to set her daughter up to have the happiest life possible, factors beyond her control resulted in her having to watch from the sidelines as Audrey worked through her anxiety.
All of the characters in this novel supported Audrey in their own way. It was a truly heartwarming story that showed that despite her disorder, Audrey had the strength and support to stand up on her own two feet again.