One of the books I read this month was Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella. This was her first attempt at teen fiction/young adult, and let me just say that this was an amazing first attempt. For those of you who don’t know, I’m a huge Kinsella fan; I’ve read every book in the Shopaholic series and a few of her standalones and I absolutely love her. This is my spoiler-free review of the book.
Firstly, let’s start off with the story. Finding Audrey is about a girl named Audrey Turner who’s fourteen years old and suffers from social anxiety. She can’t leave the house, let alone talk to a stranger without having a panic attack which is why she wears dark glasses even in the house. Then she meets Linus, her brother’s friend and gaming partner, who is determined to help her get out of the house and fight her battle against social anxiety. An unlikely friendship blossoms, but does something else? You’ll have to read to find out.
This book did receive some criticism for its story because a lot of people weren’t happy with the whole boy-helps-girl situation. I actually thought it was quite cute and there isn’t as much of the story space devoted to the Linus-Audrey relationship as you’d think. A lot of it is about family and the disorder itself.
Next, let’s talk about the writing. This book is written from Audrey’s point of view. The writing of this book was simple, flowed really well and was fun to read. It’s very conversational so it feels like you’re talking to Audrey herself. The writing format does change many times during the book. There’s some stuff in the form of text, handwritten notes and even a movie script. I loved the writing and seeing the different formats.
Lastly, the characters. Let’s first talk about Audrey. She’s a very cute, quirky character and you do feel bad for her situation throughout the book. I loved her so much and she just felt like a very satisfying character (if that makes any sense).
Next up we have Linus. He’s kind of like a sunshine boy with his happy, peppy demeanor and encouraging vibes and “orange-segment smile”. I did fall in love with him by the end and I thought he was really supportive and understanding of Audrey’s situation.
A lot of people were harking on about the Linus-Audrey relationship and many believed he was the cure but he never was. Audrey already had help from her family and her therapist, Dr. Sarah. Linus just pushed Audrey a little, and he came off as very realistic because he did push her a bit too much and had a hard time seeing that recovery isn’t “I did it today, I can do it forever.” Also, it does take a little while for Audrey to warm up to Linus and sometimes he’s not seen for days on end in the book.
Next we have Dr. Sarah, Audrey’s therapist. I really admired her; she was gentle and understanding but also made sure that Audrey pushed herself and showed her some of the realities that Audrey didn’t want to face. I liked their relationship and how she was always encouraging Audrey to try new things, even interact with Linus, because it was good for her.
Finally, we have Audrey’s family. I loved Audrey’s family; they were hilarious, high-strung yet supportive and encouraging at the same time. Audrey’s mom is very high-strung and is in love with the Daily Mail. Throughout the book we see her obsessing over a lot of things, especially Frank’s, Audrey’s older brother, gaming obsession. But she’s a great mother and is very supportive of Audrey. There’s Audrey’s dad who balances out her mom’s high-strung nature by being a bit more gentle and a little more laidback. He’s quite hilarious because in most situations he’s clueless about what’s going on. We then have Frank, Audrey’s older brother, who is obsessed with video games, and Land of Conquerors, in particular. He does cause quite a few problems for the family, but in the end, he’s an amazing brother to Audrey and helps her out when she can’t turn to her parents. Finally, there’s Felix, Audrey’s four year old brother. He’s adorable and just like a toddler with his tantrums and whatnot.
I think Kinsella handled the issue of social anxiety with care. She never portrays it in a bad light or mocks it. She actually makes you feel sympathetic towards Audrey and any other person who have suffer from the disorder in general.
I did have one issue and that was there was no closure about how Audrey actually ended up in the predicament that she’s in. There are vague mentions of it here and there so you’re grasping at straws trying to figure out what actually happened. But because this book is from Audrey’s point of view, she mentions she’s not comfortable talking about her issue.
Long story short, I loved the book and the characters. It was a light read and gave me a good break from all the fantasy-action stuff I’ve been reading lately. If you’re looking for a light-hearted, heart-warming read, I’d recommend you get your hands on this baby. It may also be a great starter to Kinsella material if you haven’t read any of her stuff yet.
Final verdict: 5/5 stars