This book is brilliant. I read another by Holly Bourne quite recently – How to Be Interesting – and it was okay, but this one is really, really good.
It’s told through the eyes of Evie, who’s just started college after dropping out of high school and getting average GCSE grades despite her smarts, because she has high anxiety and OCD. Not the everyday of thoughtless speak “Oh I’m so OCD, I always have to have my pencils straight!" – but the real 24/7 obstressing (great made-up word) struggling not to wash your hands raw exhausting sort.
So Evie’s story is told using in part through her recovery journal, which details her various coping mechanisms. Which sounds like it might be hard work and dispiriting, but it is so not. Evie is a great character, funny and warm and relatable and bright, and she’s an unreliable narrator (I think). The device works brilliantly, because we understand Evie’s struggles from the inside and are with her as she self-deceives and lies to the people who care about her and gives in to obsession.
But above and beyond the OCD story, Evie is an ordinary teenager struggling to cope with boys and friendships, and the novel explores huge deep contemporary issues, like how to be a feminist without being a ball buster, and the importance of being yourself when you think you need to change to keep a boy, and sticking together and being there for each other even when boys come along, and even – wait for it – patriarchal society and how it impacts on everything. It’s just so refreshing to read a YA book that’s not afraid to be explicit about the things that count, and is brave enough to stand up and shout it’s not just okay, it’s essential to be feminist, when feminism for a while now seems to have been presented by some mainstream media as the last resort of dungaree’d and shaven-headed lesbians. Not that there’s anything wrong with being a DSHL, but feminism’s not just for them, it’s for all of us.
Plus, as well as carrying all the right ideas in the clearest form imaginable, this story is hugely hugely fun. MUST READ!!
What Works And Why?
We read to escape, enjoy, engage, and find out more about our world. So reading is great - but what makes a great read? A page dedicated to short analyses of how writers engage readers.