By Stephanie Romero
To this day Confessions of a Shopaholic is my favorite movie. The hit romantic comedy was inspired by Sophie Kinsella’s novel of the same title. She’s had much success with her Shopaholic series and other works. This year the “Queen of Romantic Comedy” decided to branch out into the Young Adult Fiction genre. I recently enjoyed her first YA book, Finding Audrey, especially because Kinsella has an authentic, relatable way of bringing up the serious subject of mental health.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, “50% of mental health conditions begin by age 14 and 75% of mental health conditions develop by age 24.”
The novel starts in the middle of Audrey Turner’s mom getting ready to throw her son’s computer out the window. This is just one example of the many comedic elements with family members. However, in the novel, Audrey is simultaneously dealing with a big problem. After Audrey withdraws from the outside world after a school-related incident, she spends most of her time with her family. The book is told from her perspective.
Every muscle in my body is taut. My eyes are flicking around in fear. If you saw me now you’d think there was a dragon in the room. My lizard brain is in overdrive. -Audrey
Audrey is dealing with depression and an anxiety disorder. What some would consider to be the smallest interactions (saying hi to someone new or on a Starbucks run) are major to her. She wears sunglasses all the time, even with family. Audrey meets with a therapist regularly. And Audrey’s mom has good intentions in helping her daughter. She unexpectedly begins a friendship with Linus, Frank’s gamer friend. Linus is caring, thoughtful, and considerate of Audrey’s condition. Readers see their bond grow into something more than just friendship.
Eye contact is a big deal. It’s the biggest deal. Just the thought makes me sick, right down to my core. -Audrey
Finding Audrey is broken up into chapter and dictation. Audrey’s therapist challenges her to interview people and compile the interviews into a documentary. Although, they are essentially both from Audrey’s perspective, I liked the switch from the behind-the-lens perspective to Audrey’s thoughts.
The book is especially dear to me because a couple of years ago I dealt with social anxiety. Like Audrey, I preferred to stay indoors and rejected invitations to hang out. Audrey discovers a number of people and sources to help her battle her anxiety and depression, and so did I. I find it encouraging that this novel highlights an infrequent topic–mental health. If you or someone you know is dealing from mental illness, please visit the various links below. Find this book at your local library. Or buy it on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.