Formerly 'The Mile Long Bookshelf'

Monday, 7 September 2015

Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne

Title: Am I Normal Yet?
Author: Holly Bourne
Published by: Usborne
Publication date: 1st August 2015
Pages: 434
Genres: YA Contemporary/Mental Illness/Romance/Coming-of-age
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.

All Evie wants is to be normal. And now that she's almost off her meds and at a new college where no one knows her as the-girl-who-went-nuts, there's only one thing left to tick off her list...

But relationships can mess with anyone's head - something Evie's new friends Amber and Lottie know only too well. The trouble is, if Evie won't tell them her secrets, how can they stop her making a huge mistake?

So. I'm kind of in love with this book. Bourne's previous works were awesome, but this was even better and, when I'd finished, I felt a great sense of relief. Not because I was glad it was over, but because it had managed to say everything I've been trying to put into words for the last two and a half years.

Before I get into that, I'll give you a bit of background. Evie has OCD and Generalised Anxiety Disorder. Controlled by her rituals and constant bad thoughts, she's on medication and sees a therapist once a week. Her aim is to be 'normal' - or to at least seem normal. She goes to college, to parties and gigs, and even goes on a couple of dates.

But Evie doesn't mention the bad thoughts that are buzzing around her brain. She doesn't mention that they're getting worse. That's her little secret.

Can we talk about Chapter 9? I don't usually talk about books that specifically, but this chapter is possibly the best chapter of a book I have ever read. I related to it so much that I had to put the book down and just... I don't even know what I was doing. Sitting. Staring at the book in awe. Thinking about how sad it was that a book understood mental illness more than any person I know. Evie, the protagonist, has OCD and GAD, neither of which I have, but that didn't change anything. After I'd got over my shock I did a victory dance. Well, more of a victory wriggle, but the point still stands. Just read the page I tweeted. Read it. I can't get over how true it is.

I can't count the number of times I've thought the words on this page before but not said them aloud because I didn't want to offend anyone. It captures the frustration perfectly. It sums up what I've tried - and failed - to say many, many times. I want to photocopy this page and stick it on lamp posts. That would probably be a bit weird. And possibly illegal. Whatever.

I know I'm repeating myself, but... gah, this book! It understands everything. Jess from Jess Hearts Books puts it perfectly in her review, which is much more coherent than mine and which you can read here. She says, "Every so often a book comes along that feels like it was written especially for you. Am I Normal Yet? was one of those books for me." That's what I was trying to say in a very long-winded way. Can you tell this book has excited me? I'm just so happy that it exists and that I read it.

And this book has a character called Amber which is pretty awesome. I know it's lame to like a book partly because of that, but it's like at school when a teacher uses you as an example and you feel a little bit famous. Don't pretend you haven't experienced that. Unless your name is Phoenix or something. In which case, you'll just have to trust me.

God, I haven't even got to everything else I loved about this book, so I'll write it in bullet points.

  • This book is just as much about feminism as it is about mental illness. It is my dream book.
  • The friendships made were so uplifting and lovely.
  • It's funny! And who doesn't like funny books?
  • The cover is BEAUTIFUL. 
  • It has the best depiction of mental illness I have ever seen.

Bourne truly is one of the best YA writers and I'm very much looking forward to the other books in the trilogy.


  1. Fantastic review Amber, this novel is currently sitting in my online basket waiting to be bought!

  2. Great review, totally agree with everything! Especially the overall "gah, this book is amazing!" feeling!

  3. I haven't read this but I am so pleased you enjoyed reading it! I absolutely love that feeling where you just connect with a book SO MUCH. Your review is very persuasive... I really really want to read Am I Normal Yet? - it seems like it has all the right ingredients that make up a perfect YA novel! <3

  4. I NEED TO READ THIS. That page is just.... YES.
    Great review :D

  5. Oh, this sounds AMAZING!! I'm the new teen/children's librarian at my library, and I will definitely be ordering this book for our shelves. Thank you for sharing!

  6. Brilliant review, I had wondered if this book would be like the type of people she's giving out about, delighted to know it's the opposite!

  7. I am sitting on the sofa wiring for my friend to come over and lend this to me. SO EXCITED.


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