04 December 2015

Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens

"An edgy, realistic debut novel praised by the New York Times bestselling author of Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys, as “a beautiful reminder that amid our broken pieces we can truly find ourselves.”

Alexi Littrell hasn’t told anyone what happened to her over the summer by her backyard pool. Instead, she hides in her closet, counts the slats in the air vent, and compulsively scratches the back of her neck, trying to make the outside hurt more than the inside does—and deal with the trauma.
When Bodee Lennox—“the Kool-Aid Kid”—moves in with the Littrells after a family tragedy, Alexi discovers an unlikely friend in this quiet, awkward boy who has secrets of his own. As their friendship grows, Alexi gives him the strength to deal with his past, and Bodee helps her summon the courage to find her voice and speak up about the rape that has changed the course of her life." (overview provided by Barnes and Noble.)

I picked up a copy of Faking Normal after coming across the blurb on EpicReads, and didn't put the book back down until  I finished it that night. From the very first pages of Faking Normal,  I was invested in Alexi. I wanted to know exactly what happened to her and who was responsible for her pain. The pain Alexi struggles with is so apparent to the reader that it's almost depressing how much it seems others don't see it. There are a few times when her friends mention a change in her behavior and attitude, but her parents and sister seem a little oblivious. The only one in the book who truly notices how much pain Alexi is in is Bodee, a boy whose mother is murdered by his father shortly before the story begins.

What I love about Faking Normal is how accurately Courtney C, Stevens portrays small town southern America. Set in Rickman, Tennessee, the highlight of the town are the high school football games and some of the football players have a pretty significant role in the book. Alexi's best friends, Heather and Liz date football players (Collie and Ray), Alexi is asked out by 2 different football players (Dane and Hayden), and Alexi's sister Kayla is dating/engaged to the high school football coach, Craig Tanner. 

Alexi's story is complicated. She doesn't want to tell anyone about what happened, not just because she's embarrassed and ashamed, but because she doesn't want to hurt someone who means so much to her and would be devastated if the truth ever came out. At one point, I thought I knew who Alexi's rapist was and when it was finally revealed, I had to double check that I read the correct name-- something that Bodee had to do as well when he found out the who. AMAZING twist. I loved how that reveal occurs.
Faking Normal  is an amazing book about trying to heal after trauma and how you can't do it on your own. I love this book. Another amazing review of Faking Normal can be found here by Teen Librarian's Toolbox.

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