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Review: Faking Normal

Title: Faking Normal
Author: Courtney C. Stevens
Pub Deets: February 2014, HarperCollins
Series/Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Source: Won from Epic Reads! Thanks!

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In a sentence or so: Alexi doesn't want what happened to her over the summer define her, so she does her best to fake normal and deal with it later. When Bodee's tragedy meets Alexi's hurt, they begin to change each other and channel their brave together.

We know what happened to Alexi at the start of the book. I appreciated that because then it wasn't this big reveal of WHAT occurred, but rather the Now What that we were reading. We are with Alexi when her memories flare up and when her pain is unbearable and when she tries to cope by harming herself. Enter Bodee. He has a heavy heart of his own and an unthinkable tragedy which we also learn immediately. He moves in with Alexi's family so the two of them share a space, as well as secret ways to cope with their pain.

There were lots of things I liked about FAKING NORMAL. There was even loads of potential here and I sincerely enjoyed the read up to about the last 20% of the book. I was able to connect with Alexi and her friends and found their banter funny and their established roles in the group familiar, if a bit trite.

Basically the first 80% of the book is Alexi trying to deal with what happened, faking normal as it were, and how Bodee helps her with that. She helps Bodee a bit, but his tragedy is of a much different nature and not something I think Alexi would have been even remotely equipped to handle.

The last 20% of this book just PISSED. ME. OFF. Which I guess means I was pretty invested in the characters and story and that's a good thing - but I felt manipulated the entire rest of the book by how FAKING NORMAL ended. What you assumed to be true was not true. Not exactly. And the ultimate resolution was so supremely disappointing. Granted, we don't walk through the total aftermath of their decisions, but the way it wrapped up led me to think that the end of the book set the tone for the characters futures and I did not respect it.

I can't imagine how hard it is to write an issue book (or any book) so my opinions are a bit jaded. But in real life, I believe tragedies require counseling - professional or otherwise. Not the case with FAKING NORMAL. And when people do Bad Things they need to be held accountable for their actions. And when we are Channeling Our Brave we need to do so for OURSELVES. Never, ever for someone else. Love yourself first and empower yourself for YOU - not for a boy.

Anyway - I obviously had some pretty intense emotions around this book, so I respect that about FAKING NORMAL. I liked the casual yet thoughtful writing of Courtney C. Stevens (with the exception of some weird phrases that felt like they were trying too hard) and will definitely be reading her future books, despite my disappointment with the end of FAKING NORMAL. After all, FAKING NORMAL had all the elements of a great contemporary, but fell flat when it came to the final resolutions of tragedies and recoveries.

If you're looking for a fresh take on an issue book that has a surprise ending and a boy with a broken heart, FAKING NORMAL could be for you!

Lisa is a gamer, crafter, fangirl, mother, wife and unabashed nerd who is pretty ridiculous and it's best you know that up front. When she's not binge watching Netflix or crafting into the wee hours of the night, you can find her spending a lot of her time on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. I've been waiting for your review of this after our conversation :) I think you said it all pretty perfectly. There's SO much potential, but it kind of tapered off at the end to be less than amazing.I do give her credit for doing a good job for most of it, though.

    1. You did a better job than I did, Rachel! It was hard for me to pinpoint what made me so frustrated while still talking about liking the first part of the book because I did!

  2. I wasn't as bothered by the end of the book as you were (think you commented on my review and saw that), but I suspected who the real perpetrator was all along so that came as less of a shock (although I didn't like the way the author handled the whole thing).

    I do agree with you about people who suffer tragedies like this needing a large support networking and professional help. I find myself really often annoyed at how few author choose to include mental health professionals in their books. I always hope it's because they don't think it fits well into the story (which is a really lame excuse) and not because of the stigma that sadly still exists around mental health issues and seeking out professional health.

    1. ESPECIALLY BODEE. I feel like Alexi is our focus so we don't really know what's going on with Bodee in his head, but honestly I cannot believe going to her treehouse and a few conversations have him in a place where he feels like he's healing. I'm trying really hard to be sensitive because I have NO IDEA what either tragedy is like but both of them feel like they were barely handled with the emotional intensity associated with them.

  3. How do you pronounce "Bodee"? O_o I'm sorry to see this fell flat, because I was really looking forward to it. Mostly because the girl has awesome freckles like me. Eh, maybe I'll cross this one off my list because it's clearly going to annoy me.

    1. Yes, it will annoy you. There are things to celebrate and things that you would enjoy...but there are lots of ??? and !!! and -_- as well. Grain of salt!

  4. I had so many problems with this book... I didn't even review it on the blog. I love how you express your thoughts at the end. I guess I didn't want to believe that she was doing it all for him. I think he was really just being a friend... but the sister situation and just everything... I don't know. I think more intrusion from the parents would have been so important right then. Esp. cause they did seem like really nice people?

    As you said, I liked Courtney's writing and I am on board to read more. Hopefully it's less issuey? Black and white?


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