“Because I know hurt when I hear it. I hurt too.”
An edgy, realistic, and utterly captivating novel from an exciting new voice in teen fiction.
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.
A searing, poignant book, Faking Normal is the extraordinary debut novel from an exciting new author-Courtney C. Stevens.
For local readers buy your copy here: National Book Store
“That’s a forever change. I never understood how life could be so dramatically sectioned, but it can. And is. There is only after. And before.”
The story follows Alexi Littrell as she tries to live a normal life after the incident over the summer. Her family and friends don’t have any idea what she went through and she decided to keep it that way in order to save them the pain it would bring. She is broken, afraid, and lost but still pretending everyday to be fine, trying very hard to forget. She seeks comfort in scratching her neck, trying very hard to dull the pain inside more than the outside. For several months, she managed to pull the facade perfectly, until Bodee, the “Kool-Aid-Kid’ enter her life unexpectedly.
Bodee is the only person who see past Alexi’s facade. He knows she has a secret – simply because he has one too. Slowly Alexi and Bodee develop friendship, leading for Alexi to open up her secret to Bodee. But they both know it isn’t enough, because Alexi needs to recognize and accept first what really happened to her for what it is.
“Lex, if he looks you in the eyes every day, the way I think he does, and he can’t see what I’m seeing…then he’s not that much different from my dad. Monsters aren’t born; they become.”
Faking Normal is surprisingly impressive with its powerful story line. Though it is not entirely unique or new, the author still managed to weaved a compelling story with her beautiful writing and smooth execution.
The mystery or secrets are played with subtlety. If you are like me who love to guessed mystery in their stories, you might find the secrets in Faking Normal easy to uncover. I’ve guessed Captain Lyrics’ identity right at the moment he was mentioned. Even what really happened to Alexi over the summer is easy to predict. But knowing Alexi’s secret and Captain Lyrics’ identity doesn’t actually lessen my grip to reading more of Alexi’s story. Because the heart of this book doesn’t really rely with mystery or intrigue. The story is still compelling even you know right away the future revelations. This is one of those books that doesn’t matter if you know, because it isn’t about knowing or not knowing the mystery or the ending, it is about everything that happens in-between. Alexi and Bodee’s story is interesting to read even without the intrigue and mystery, because these characters are good enough to keep you going.
Alexi and Bodee are the kind of characters that every readers will surely root for. It is so easy to empathize for them. They are portrayed not only as believable and realistic but also with enough depth that you can only love them like someone you personally know.
Alexi is someone easy to understand and connect to. Though I admit her story may not be for everyone to enjoy. Some may find her a little too forgiving or overly self-blaming, but once you know where she is coming from, you’ll surely understand all her inhibitions. The way she punished herself and owned all the blame for things she never asked for is unnerving and truly unsettling.
Her inside anxiety is so well handled by the narrative, which makes Alexi’s inside pains more palpable and almost real hurting. Her healing process at the end though short is still realistic and well handled.
“The power of Bodee is in the way he reads me, sees through me, and then understands the truth behind the facade. He’s the guy who can walk straight through the House of Mirrors on the first try. It’s almost annoying. No one should ride tragedy like a pro surfer while I drown.”
Bodee Lennox on the other hand is someone everyone might need in their life. Someone who will see beyond the facade and acting. Someone who knows your weakness and failures but still accept and love you for what you are. Someone who will try his best to make your day great even without acknowledgement. Someone who will support you and your decisions even sometimes they aren’t the best one. Someone who won’t push you to do things but willing to wait till you decides it’s finally time. Someone who is always there even you keep pushing him away. Someone who always understand.
“And I promise you, I’ll stop whoever’s hurting you.” I stand there barely breathing, and he says something that sounds like, “Even if it’s you.”
Alexi and Bodee are the best example of realistic and powerful characters. Even without magic and super powers they surely stand out among the rest of YA characters I’ve read lately. Because sometimes heroes and heroines are found in the most realistic plot lines. Those who can battle their own personal demons and those who tried their best to fight even the battles are already lost.
With its realistic story line, Faking Normal is a gripping, emotional and powerful story of abuse, acceptance, and self-forgiveness. It is about fighting our own battles amidst the darkness and hopelessness.
Faking Normal is a proof that sometimes a good read doesn’t need a complicated or intricate plot lines, nor magic or fantasy, but just a touch of reality that will make us all feel.— * This review is based on an advance readers copy I received courtesy of the publisher, HarperCollins International in exchange of honest opinion.