Title: Finding Audrey (2015)
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Extent: 288 pages
Review: Fourteen-year-old Audrey has an anxiety disorder that keeps her inside her house 24/7, 365. She can’t even take off her dark glasses—the thought of having eye contact with anyone sends her spiralling into a panic attack. The only other people she sees apart from her family is her therapist Dr. Sarah and her brother’s friend Linus, who makes Audrey feel like she can once again find her way back to the real world.
I’ve given up reading Sophie Kinsella when her main character (read: Becky Bloomwood) didn’t develop and instead kept regressing each time, even after seven books. Finding Audrey is a Young Adult novel, however, and I thought I should give it a try since it’s something new—I’ve always felt that Kinsella’s light-hearted, comedic style is more suited to younger readers.
Thankfully I wasn’t disappointed. Despite its target audience, I actually found this book more mature than Kinsella’s romance novels. Audrey is a likeable, relatable narrator and it was really great to see her grow and develop throughout the chapters. Her ‘road to recovery’ is paved with ups and downs and I was glad this was addressed in the book by Dr. Sarah, who was patient, realistic and yet persistent in helping Audrey.
Audrey’s family was completely adorable in their own right, too, despite my occasional frustration with the mother. I felt like there were much better ways she could have handled her family’s problems, particularly Frank’s.
“Most people underestimate eyes. They’re infinite. You look someone straight in the eye and your whole soul can be sucked out in a nanosecond. Other people’s eyes are limitless and that’s what scares me.”
Now, onto the could-have-been-improved things… first of all, I didn’t care much for the romance. Linus is so sweet, caring and accepting of Audrey, but I felt like their attraction came a bit out of nowhere, given that their contact were limited to notes and texts in the beginning. I do like Linus as a character, though, and I love his interactions with Audrey’s family and how he actually helped Audrey help herself. Oftentimes in YA books with mental illnesses, love interests become the magical solution to those problems, but not in this book and I really respect that. Audrey still went through a couple of ups and downs even after Linus.
Secondly, I wish Kinsella had explored Audrey’s anxiety and disorder a little bit more—how it happened, in what other ways did it manifest, how her family dealt with it at first, how things changed, etc. In my opinion these things were the more interesting things to talk about and Kinsella never really went deep into them.
“I think what I’ve realized is, life is all about climbing up, slipping down, and picking yourself up again. And it doesn’t matter if you slip down. As long as you’re kind of heading more or less upwards. That’s all you can hope for. More or less upwards.”
Overall, Finding Audrey is a funny and quick read, with a more light-hearted approach to mental illnesses than most books. I wasn’t sure about Kinsella at first given my experience with her contemporary romances, but I found this one quite delightful.