Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens

faking-normalTitle: Faking Normal
Author: Courtney C. Stevens
Series: Stand Alone (although there is a short companion story)
Publisher: HarperTeen
Published: February 25th, 2014
Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.5 out of 5)

Trigger Warning: Rape, self-harm

Quick Look:

I didn’t expect to feel as strongly about this book as I did. I’ll admit that the basic plot isn’t unique. However, Stevens still made it feel different and real. I will say, one of my biggest issues with stories like this didn’t show up, and for that I was grateful. I did have a few issues, but it still tugged at my heart.The summary of Faking Normal from Goodreads:

Alexi Littrell hasn’t told anyone what happened to her over the summer. Ashamed and embarrassed, she hides in her closet and compulsively scratches the back of her neck, trying to make the outside hurt more than the inside does.

When Bodee Lennox, the quiet and awkward boy next door, comes to live with the Littrells, Alexi discovers an unlikely friend in “the Kool-Aid Kid,” who has secrets of his own. As they lean on each other for support, Alexi gives him the strength to deal with his past, and Bodee helps her find the courage to finally face the truth.

What I Liked:

Alexi’s life changed over the summer. She has a before and an after, and she’s struggling in her after. She hides in her closet, scratching her neck to try to make the outside hurt as much as she does inside. She copes as best as she can to try and look normal to those around her.

Bodee moves in and suddenly, there’s someone she can’t hide from. He doesn’t know why she’s suffering, just that she is. He doesn’t try to fix her. He just wants to be there for her, to support her. And she does the same for him.

That’s the first thing I loved. This isn’t a book about a boy fixing a girl. It’s about a boy helping a girl find her own strength. He’s there to be her support when she can’t support herself. To help her stop scratching by giving her something else to focus on. Likewise, she helps him find the strength to confront his own demons. Neither of them are there to “fix” the other.

Alexi carries a lot of secrets. There’s something hiding in her past that is affecting her now. She’s trying to keep her family and friends from knowing her pain. She’s placing the blame for her rape on her, on her inability to say no, on her silence. I felt for her on every page. Her strength, even when she doesn’t see herself as possessing any, is amazing.

Bodee is the perfect character for this novel. He’s dealing with his own struggles, his own family falling apart. He’s different, but he embraces it, he holds on to it because it’s a connection to his own before. I loved how he understood Alexi and how he helped her. The unfolding of their friendship was beautiful.

What I Didn’t Like:

There’s a moment in the story that I don’t understand. Alexi’s sister becomes extremely manipulative at the expense of Alexi and it’s done for a laugh. I really didn’t feel like this was necessary to the overall story. Alexi’s past, her childhood, could still have had the impact without this moment with her sister. It just felt out-of-place and unnecessary.

I’d Recommend To:

This is a difficult recommendation. It’s definitely a good book, and one you show read if this is a type of book you can handle. It tugs at your heart, but it’s difficult to read as well, just because Alexi’s pain is so clear.

You can purchase Faking Normal here:

Barnes and Noble

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