7th August to 11th August ~ Physical Copy ~ Link to Goodreads
Agoraphobia confines Norah to the house she shares with her mother.
For her, the outside is sky glimpsed through glass, or a gauntlet to run between home and car. But a chance encounter on the doorstep changes everything: Luke, her new neighbour. Norah is determined to be the girl she thinks Luke deserves: a ‘normal’ girl, her skies unfiltered by the lens of mental illness. Instead, her love and bravery opens a window to unexpected truths …
An important and uplifting debut from a British author, which tackles mental health issues such as agoraphobia and OCD.
The book came to my attention when someone I followed on twitter retweeted something Louise Gornall had posted. Intrigued by how cool this person looked and inspired by the tweet I clicked to view their profile and found she was an author, after a quick check on Goodreads I quickly came to the conclusion I needed this book in my life and I needed to read it fairly soon! I tried to keep my expectations even though as I’ve been let down with books that tackle this topic/similar topics before and as someone who suffers with mental health issues (anxiety & depression) I don’t think it is represented well enough in literature.
This is a very character driven book and I know for some this might be a bit of a turn off but it worked wonderfully in this book for me. I felt very connected to Norah from the very first page. I felt like I was in her head going through her thoughts with her and I was surprised by how brilliantly this book echoed my own thought process when it comes to worrying so much about illness & intruders down to what is kept in a handbag and the reasons behind it. The scenes where it described how her anxiety and depression were working at the same times spoke to me so much, were so accurate and described so well; it didn’t overly romanticise it with overly pretentious descriptions it was real and raw and just basically told it as it would be. I loved how self aware Norah was in terms of knowing that her thought process can be irrational and frustrating for others around her as I feel exactly the same but it is not something that can be helped. I thought this was especially important because a lot of people I know (usually colleagues) feel the need to constantly tell me I’m being irrational like I don’t already know this and it’s not that I don’t know it’s just that I can’t help how my mind works anymore than a “normal” person can. Norah for me was everything I’ve been looking for in depicting mental health and I feel she really represented agoraphobia brilliantly. I loved Norah’s mum I can’t really mention all my reasons why without giving spoilers but she is just so supportive and loving and it is so heart warming to show someone who is supported but still struggles. Another fantastic character for me is Dr Reeve she reminded me a little of the counsellor I used to have, patient and really good at putting things in ways that my mind particularly would understand. Finally Luke, although I was not a fan of the romance I love how he was written in the book to highlight how new situations would affect Norah his interactions with her really helped me to understand how deep her thought process would run and really helped me to connect with her as much as I did. In terms of the plot it was really well paced and I think this was because it ran through her thoughts which run quite quickly from scenario to scenario but the book took me longer than I thought it would because at times this exhausted me and so I had to take more breaks than I usually would – having said that this for me wasn’t a bad thing because it made me really feel like I was along for the ride with Norah.
I don’t really have anything I can class as “bad”. If I were being incredibly nit-picky I would say I would have liked to have known a bit of Norah’s back story in terms of what triggered her first panic attack. Knowing from personally experience that sometimes there isn’t a trigger it alternatively would have been nice to know about what happened the first time or maybe more about how she slowly stopped talking to her friends etc. However I this is a very miniscule point for me because even though this would have been great to know I feel the book does not feel like it is lacking anything as it is!
I think it is quite apparent that I loved this book. I would highly and forcefully recommend to anyone and everyone but especially anyone suffering, anyone who knows someone who is suffering or even just people who want a better understanding! At the risk of sounding like a massive fan girl I have a feeling this book is going to become a close friend of mine!