Meet Audrey’s comical family: a mom who reads The Daily Mail too much, a dad who agrees with the wife all the time (and used to be in a band), an older brother (Frank) who wants to become a professional gamer, and a younger brother (Felix) who likes Frozen. Also meet Linus: Frank’s gamer friend who has a nice smile that looks like an orange slice. Oh, and meet Audrey: she wears sunglasses all the time and doesn’t go to school.
Sophie Kinsella’s Finding Audrey is a delightful, funny, and relevant YA read. It touches upon aspects of living in 2015: the technologies and product placements, family dynamics, and mental illnesses.
I think what I’ve realized is, 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. More or less upwards.
Starbucks, Ipads, Frozen Fever, LOC
Finding Audrey made me realize that I don’t read new novels very often. All the references in this book – the ubiquity of Starbucks, gaming tournaments with teammates living in Korea, Felix having Frozen fever – were aspects of life that I could directly relate to right now. It made me realize that a majority of the YA books I’ve read these past few years are so out-dated.
Kinsella does a great job of portraying life as a teenager in 2015 – “the millennials” (I hate using this term), and she does so in a relevant and receptive manner.
“My Serene and Loving Family”
OMG, Mum’s gone insane.
Not normal Mum-insane. Serious insane.
Normal Mum-insane: Mum says, “Let’s all do this great gluten-free diet I read about in the Daily Mail!” Mum buys three loaves of gluten-free bread. It’s so disgusting our mouths curl up. The family goes on strike and Mum hides her sandwich in the flower bed and next week we’re not gluten-free anymore.
This novel only has three different settings: Audrey’s counselor’s office, the Starbucks down the street, and her house. Needless to say, almost everything that happens occurs in her house and within her family. To be able to craft such a witty and refreshing story line in one setting the entire time is quite an achievement. To make everything even better, Audrey’s family is hilarious.
As a project for her counselor, Audrey has to film her family and the video transcripts are incredibly entertaining. Even in first POV, Audrey’s family is a compelling and charming cast of characters. They push each other and collide together in moments of annoyance, tolerance, acceptance, and familial love. It’s a small representation of the crazy (in a good way) things that happen in a family. Because let’s face it: a family never gets along 24/7. Different members are at different stages in life with different needs and desires. That doesn’t mean you can’t still love each other and learn from each other.
Again, Kinsella does a great job of making this theme relevant to present time with smooth character developments. Audrey’s family shows the dynamics of family relationships with current issues, such as the dominant use of technology in everyday life or how a mental illness can affect the entire family.
We don’t have to reveal everything to each other. It’s OK to be private. It’s OK to say no. It’s OK to say, “I’m not going to share that.”
Audrey suffers from social anxiety and refers to her anxiety as a “lizard brain” that freaks out. I personally have not experienced this, so it is difficult for me to vouch for whether or not Audrey’s descriptions are an accurate representation of the issues and feelings one would undergo (although other reviews have agreed to be so). However, her explanations of self-loathing and counseling sessions seemed to offer some real insights, suggesting that Kinsella did her research in regards to how to deal with social anxiety- always a plus for any YA novel that brings in the topic of a mental illness.
There’s always a misconception that mental illnesses are not really illnesses. I know parents who think it’s all a phase or some kind of attention gimmick. The difficult part is that it’s not always clear to diagnose because there are very few physical symptoms. There are also many different levels of anxiety and depression, and some people believe shallower levels are not significant. There’s always going to be the person who says they are depressed or suffer from social anxiety when they’re just kind of introverted or sad momentarily. But instead of looking down on them and telling them that, “No, actually, you are not depressed. You just think you are”, how do you really know?
You keep saying “I’m fine” to people when you’re not fine. You think you should be fine. You keep saying to yourself: “Why aren’t I fine?”
It’s easy to tell people to just suck it up and “be happy”or “be stronger” when you are on the outside. But that’s the thing, you are on the outside.
Take a journey inside Audrey’s mind.
P.S. There are readers who don’t like how Audrey begins to get better thanks to a boy. Firstly, did you not pick up on the importance of family in this entire novel? Secondly, stop being so negative. People can have different motivations for getting better (at anything). Just let them get better.