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Finding Audrey Paperback – May 3, 2016
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"An outstanding tragicomedy that gently explores mental illness, the lasting effects of bullying, and the power of friends and loving family to help in the healing."
—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
"Kinsella's knack for humor and sensitivity shine."—Publishers Weekly
"It's fun, it's quick, it's cute, but it also focuses on deeper topics with maturity and responsibility."—The Guardian (UK)
"With her trademark wit and sass, Kinsella's sensitivity broaches the complexities of young adult mental health. [Her] Shopaholic series has long been popular with teens, and her YA debut will likely be just as happening, maybe even among Kinsella's adult readers."—Booklist
"Sparkling dialogue, carefully developed characters, great parent-child interaction . . . all join to demonstrate the author's expertise in developing a compelling story."—School Library Journal
A New York Times Bestseller
A ZOELLA Book Club Pick
PRAISE fOR SOPHIE KINSELLA:
“A Sophie Kinsella novel is like a box of Valentine’s Day chocolates.” —USA Today
“Kinsella has a genuine gift for comic writing.”—The Boston Globe
About the Author
Visit her online at sophiekinsella.com and follow Sophie Kinsella on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
- Lexile Measure : HL540L
- Grade Level : 7 - 9
- Item Weight : 8 ounces
- Paperback : 304 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0553536532
- ISBN-13 : 978-0553536539
- Product Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.65 x 8.19 inches
- Reading level : 12 - 17 years
- Publisher : Ember; Reprint Edition (May 3, 2016)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #135,662 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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In 2015, Finding Audrey was nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award for Young Adult Fiction.
I know I can only give this a "5" on the websites, but it is definitely a "7"! And that's saying something because I swore I'd never read Kinsella again after enduring several of her Shopaholic stories!
It's Audrey's story and very definitely first-person point-of-view, and while the story is triggered by bullying, we don't actually learn what they did, which makes me nuts.
The way Audrey describes herself is curious and makes me wonder if her paranoia about everyone looking at her, obsessing about what people are thinking about her, is part of the problem that led into how badly the bullying affected her. Maybe that's another class that kids need, one that encourages self-confidence as well as considering that other people have events and turmoils going on in their own lives that may affect how they react to you.
For all the seriousness of Audrey's condition, you can't help LYAO throughout the story. It's a typical teen's view of her clueless parents and her siblings. With a character arc that is perfectly achieved.
I do adore Felix:
"He greets most life events with disbelieving joy. A lorry in the street! Ketchup! An extra-long chip! Mum throwing a computer out the window is just another one on the list of daily miracles."
Then there's Audrey's take on her Mum with her Daily Mail obsession, her freak-out about Frank's online gameplaying, not listening to her kids, and Mum's constant contradictions on "what she always used to do" ROFLMAO. We also experience Audrey's slow realization of what her mother has given up. What her family has endured. Frank. Oh, man, Frank is the stereotype of teens and boys. Totally unobservant when it really counts, lol. Linus, now. He's an absolute doll. Incredibly patient and willing to both wait and push at Audrey.
The example Linus uses of his crazy Gran for Audrey was too sweet, and too true. As for Audrey's explanation of how to deal with the lizard brain with Felix as the comparison…brilliant.
More ROFL with the replies we all wanted to make to our parents' questions. Omigod *more laughing*
And…for all my laughing at her Mum, I have to give props to Audrey's parents for being so very supportive.
Now, that damned Amerson infuriates me with her dismissal of the bullying. Too typical of almost all schools who ignore it because the teachers/admins aren't paying attention, the bully's parents wield too much power, or the teachers don't care. If government wants to throw money at something, they should be throwing it at stopping the bullying. Teach the kids better ways to deal with issues. Find out who is bullying those kids, to turn them into bullies…because that's all they know. We need to stop the cycle!
And keep in mind that life is that jagged graph. Up a bit. Down a bit. All life long.
The progress Audrey is making in her daily life — ever since that anxiety disorder slammed into her — is making her crazy. It's too slow. And too much. All at once.
It takes meeting Linus to encourage Audrey to try more than she's comfortable with, as she connects with him, his patience, his concern.
Audrey can talk through her fears with Linus in a way she’s never been able to do with anyone before. As their friendship deepens and her recovery gains momentum, a sweet romantic connection develops, one that helps not just Audrey but also her entire family.
"You'll be in the dark for as long as it takes and then you'll come out."
Audrey Turner is a fourteen-year-old girl traumatized by events at her school. Frank is her older, computer-obsessed brother with a passion for Land of Conquerors (LOC). Felix is the too-totally cheerful four-year-old. Mum, Anne, is the frustrated one who rules the household and has left her job as a freelance brand consultant. Dad, Chris, is an accountant and much more easygoing.
Linus is a schoolfriend of Frank's. And totally cute. Nick and Rameen are part of Frank's LOC team; Matt will become an okay fourth. Aidan is Felix's friend, but he has chicken pops. Natalie Dexter had been Audrey's best friend — the one who froze. A bipolar homicidal maniac? Seriously?
Arjun is a friend of Mum's from her Pilates class who does freelance computer work. Alison is in Mum's book group and doesn't even have TV at home. Hmmm, I wonder what the Daily Mail says about that?? Mike is a friend of Dad's with whom he plays squash. Allan is another of Dad's friends. Paul Taylor has good deals.
Dr. Sarah McVeigh is Audrey's therapist at St. John's hospital who could take some lessons from Linus. I did like Dr. Sarah's idea about doing a video.
Heath Academy is the new school Audrey will start in the fall. Stokeland Girls' School is her former school. Miss Amerson was the head teacher. Freya Hill, Izzy Lawton, and Tasha Collins were expelled. The remaining "gang" include a changed Katie, Chloe, and Ruby. Miss Moore is the deputy head who left. Izzy's parents are amazingly unconscious of their daughter's behavior.
Ade is a chef at the Fox and Hound whose grandfather, Derek Gould, has just moved into an old folks' home, Avonlea. Rob McDuggan and their son, Ollie, are neighbors. Sinead is a policewoman.
The Cover and Title
The cover is a soft green turquoise banded by unevenly edged grayed-out colonial blue horizontal stripes. It's a cartoon-like Audrey with her long brown hair and sunglasses poking up at the top of the yellow title with her hands appearing below it. The author's name is large and at the top in yellow with an info blurb about Kinsella's popular Shopaholic series.
The title is the battle this girl is going through, for Finding Audrey will take a great deal of struggle and support.
The backstory begins this. And it is not lovely. The middle daughter of a rambunctious household earned the animosity of three middle school witches by her high academic performance, who had gone into making her life hell for months. The backstory (she is the narrator) is never explained just what they did, but the upshot of the witches little plan exposed them, traumatized her, and resulted the firing the principle, the expulsion of the witches and the terrorized little girl.
This is the story of her trip back to sanity. It requires a lot of work on her part.
Of course, since this is a romance, there is a lot of boy girl. He had liked her a lot before her disaster. And he is a huge help in getting where she needs to go.
There is always hope
I've read some negative reviews about Finding Audrey that feel the book is making light of anxiety, but I really disagree. Audrey's condition is never explained away, and Kinsella isn't condescending toward her MC at all. Instead, Kinsella uses her classic humor to bring levity to what could have been a serious (possibly dull) story. As someone who's struggled with major bouts of anxiety, I appreciated the humor. It reminded me that anxiety doesn't have to be a weight that hangs over you forever - there's still fun and friendship to be had amidst your struggles. What this book offered was hope, rather than wallowing in the mire of Audrey's illness.
I also appreciated the honest inclusion of Audrey's irrational feelings. If you've experienced severe anxiety or depression, you can relate to her constant questioning of...
- Is this ever going to end? Am I stuck like this forever?
- Why can't I just be normal?
- Is everyone watching me, thinking I'm a total psycho?
- Am I a horrible human being who doesn't deserve life, because, obviously, I can't seem to handle it?
- Would everyone be happier and less stressed if I wasn't around? Should I feel guilty about that?
I also felt like the depiction of Audrey's "lizard brain" was so accurate, I felt like Kinsella had read my mind. I'll admit I teared up a few times reading Audrey's irrational (but very real) anxieties, as well as her conversations with her therapist, because it was almost like reliving parts of my own life.
In terms of the romance, I'd also challenge readers who think the message is "love fixes all illnesses" to take a second look. Linus doesn't "fix" Audrey. Yes, he encourages her, helps her along the journey - but so does her therapist and her family. Linus represents those people in our lives who support us through struggles, who encourage us to keep going, and who aren't put off by our bouts of eccentricity. I loved him, and while I think it's highly unlikely a teenage boy would be this sensitive, I'm sure there are some out there somewhere. (Hah!)
This brings me to the other aspect of the book that I've seen people dislike: the mother. Oh my gosh, she was my favorite character. She had me laughing constantly. I also liked that we got to see some of her own struggles and how Audrey begins to realize just how much her mother has sacrificed for her. The honest portray of Audrey's family added so much to the book, and I thought every character was convincing and interesting. I even liked Frank and his video game addiction.
Basically, I'd recommend this book for anyone who's struggling with anxiety. It's not a textbook about mental illness, but it's not supposed to be - it's a novel. And it's a novel that offers a picture of hope and recovery, with some great laughs along the way.
Top reviews from other countries
This is a heart-warming novel aimed at young adults. It deals with the stigma and symptoms of mental illness in a teenage world. Audrey is a lovely character who will make you laugh and cry in her story of mental illness. Her new friend Linus stumbles into her life and together they try to solve her issues with romance and friendship.
The book has an amazing way of showing the way in which mental health affects the wider family without victimising anyone. Audrey comes across as a fighter and a survivor, her character has a depth and intelligence that can be lost when writing a character who is dealing with mental illness.
This book is a bright and inspiring story which should be in every secondary school library. It is a great way for young adults to gain an understanding of what it is like to have a mental illness and that people are not alone.
"Life is all about climbing up, slipping down, and picking yourself up again. And it doesn't matter if you slip down. As long as you're kind of heading more or less upwards. That's all you can hope for."
I loved this book! And I was so happy to get back into the world of Sophie Kinsella. When I first began this, I was wary that her sense of humour wouldn't be able to translate into a YA novel with a teenage character, but I was wrong. This was just as funny as some of her adult novels, and for that I am really pleased.
Audrey was a great character, and I found her struggles with anxiety believable and real. I don't personally think her symptoms would class as severe, but at the same time, everybody can feel and experience differently.
I loved how this novel was also centred around family; parents and siblings and the bonds and fights they all share. Her parents were hilarious, and the relationship she shared with her brother Frank reminded me a lot of myself and my brother. And Felix was too cute!
I found the romance between Audrey and Linus cute and sweet, and exactly as a teenage romance should be. However I did see it as a tad insta-lovey, but it was still very cute. I think is a theme with YA novels - especially when the characters are younger. I don't think a 14 year old really knows what it is to be in love, truly and wholly, and a few years later will experience something even better. But it was still cute, and that's a minor personal issue.
A few reviews have stated that her anxiety was "cured" too quickly, and whilst I agree she made a large amount of progress in a short period of time, she also then relapsed again. Like a jagged graph, which I feel is much more realistic.
I wish we had found out what really happened at school to cause her to spiral into her current mental state, however I guess the author didn't feel it was entirely necessary to the story.
Overall I really enjoyed this book, and I would rate it about a 4.5 stars!
(Review originally posted on Goodreads)
Audrey is battling with and anxiety disorder after it was alluded that she was bullied in school. Audrey is kind, hopeful and sweet. She doesn’t like to make eye contact with anyone, even her own family. I loved her family, they’re definitely different from any other family I have read in books before.
This book documents the recovery process of a teenage girl bullied enough to develop mental health problems (not a teenage romance although she does fall for her brother’s friend Linus and it’s adorable) it’s more about family and how they grow out of the hardships. That recovery not being only for Audrey but for her family as well. We all have set backs, which I know all too well. It’s about getting back up again and being brave to take the next step.
Extreme case of social anxiety disorder, for those of you who understand this , you will sympathize with our young narrative. I know I did, I’ve been suffering from anxiety, depression for the last 10 years. I could relate to Audrey’s social anxiety (being around people I don’t know, answering the door and phone, even leaving the house and feeling like everyone is staring at you.) I get it when she feels like she’s never going to get better, I have had those very same feelings.
I love Sophie’s books, have never been disappointed with any of her books, and I wasn’t with this one. It made me smile, laugh and I teared up a few times as well. I simply loved and adored this book. I though Sophie was brave to take on the topic of mental health, for her first YA novel. But it was well researched and beautifully written. I hope everyone else falls in love with this book like I did.
I hope to see more YA from Sophie in the future.
This had funny moments but it lacked something I could quite put my finger on.
The ‘big reveal’ which has been eluded to throughout the book to build intrigued was odd and an unusual choice by the author to present it the way she did (don’t want to reveal it).
Worth a read to decide for yourself