by Sophie Kinsella
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Expected publication date: June 9, 2015
Sophie Kinsella’s debut young adult novel, Finding Audrey, centers on British fourteen-year-old Audrey and her family. Audrey suffers from severe anxiety and depression brought on an incident with some nasty school bullies, and is unable to speak to strangers without having an attack. In fact, her anxiety is so bad that she can’t even look her family members in the eye without the protection of her sunglasses, which she wears at all times. Despite the reassuring words of her psychiatrist, Dr. Sarah, Audrey doesn’t feel like she’s making any progress, or will ever be ready to go back to school next September.
While Audrey tries to find a way to heal, her mother begins to fixate on Audrey’s older brother’s computer gaming habit; she’s determined to stop him from being “addicted” to video games, even if it means throwing his £700 computer out the window. In the midst of all of this, we meet older brother Frank’s friend and gaming teammate Linus. Despite Audrey’s struggles, she finds herself inexplicably drawn to Linus, and the two of them start talking and develop a friendship, the first one Audrey has had since the “incident” that drove her to her current reclusive state.
Finding Audrey is a short book (I read it in an afternoon), but it packs a lot into its small page count. Audrey is a great narrator: she’s funny, insightful, and different. She’s also a lot stronger than she, or anyone else (except maybe Dr. Sarah) realizes. She grows a lot over the course of the book, but it’s never unrealistic, nor is her relationship with Linus.
Audrey is supported by a group of realistic and loveable characters. There’s Audrey’s slightly terrifying, but ultimately loving mother, who is addicted to the Daily Mail, and also addicted to “improving” Frank’s life, mostly against his wishes; Audrey’s dad plays the typical “whatever your mom says” character, but he never feels like a straight up caricature; Frank appears to be your pretty typical teenage boy, addicted to playing a video game called League of Conquerors, but there’s definitely more to him than that; and Linus is completely crush-worthy.
Kinsella’s writing is straight-forward, but full of humor; I found myself laughing aloud more than a couple of times (especially whenever Audrey’s mum decides on a new way to punish—I mean “improve”—Frank’s life). Though this is a book about a girl with serious health issues, it’s never too heavy. Ultimately, the book’s strength is in Kinsella’s ability to talk about serious issues in a very approachable way. To sum up: Finding Audrey is a quick, feel-good page-turner that fans of contemporary young adult literature will love.
I received an advance copy of Finding Audrey from Delacorte Books as part of a giveaway on Shelf Awareness. Some information about the book may have changed in the final version. All opinions related to the book are my own.