An anxiety disorder disrupts fourteen-year-old Audrey’s daily life. She has been making slow but steady progress with Dr. Sarah, but when Audrey meets Linus, her brother’s gaming teammate, she is energized. She connects with him. Audrey can talk through her fears with Linus in a way she’s never been able to do with anyone before. As their friendship deepens and her recovery gains momentum, a sweet romantic connection develops, one that helps not just Audrey but also her entire family.
This book is probably going to make it to my favorite contemporaries of 2016- and it’s only February! Finding Audrey is a YA contemporary that is sure to get you laughing at one second, and serious a few seconds after. This book balances humor and the seriousness which is mental disorders so perfectly that it doesn’t downplay the severity and realness of Audrey’s conditions.
Audrey’s gone through an incident at her old school. It’s not mentioned in detail, but you can gather that it was some kind of extreme bullying. Ever since, Audrey hasn’t left her house at all- not even for school- unless it’s to meet her therapist. Finding Audrey revolves around a project that Dr. Sarah assigns Audrey: making a home movie. Throughout the book there are pages in where Audrey’s home movie’s transcript is printed for us readers. Humorous and full of wit, I looked forward to those sections of the novel. The subplot around her brother Frank and their mother is also tear-inducing-funny, I kid you not. Audrey is a hilarious narrator.
I was afraid that this book would focus on Linus and Audrey, how he would “fix” her anxiety with their romantic endeavors, blah blah blah. Thank God that didn’t happen- that story trope is the worst one out there, in my opinion. But what he does do is challenge Audrey to talk to people outside. Just ask questions, say something funny and stupid. He calls them “challenges”, help her take a few steps out of her comfort zone. And she does, and it’s seemingly working. I didn’t view their relationship to be an extreme center of the story, more like part of the story that was used to push forward the plot of Audrey’s individual journey through anxiety.
I really loved the way Audrey’s anxiety was shown in this story. I never really identified with other interpretations of mental disorders in the many novels I’ve read- they’re still 100% valid! I just never felt that connection, until I read Finding Audrey. Reading it made me feel like I was being understood, that someone out there knew exactly how it was to be anxious:
So the one I could really do without is the lizard brain. Or the “amygdala,” as it’s called in the books. Every time you freeze in fright, that’s your lizard brain taking over. It’s called the lizard brain because we all had one of these even when we were lizards, apparently. It’s, like, prehistoric. And it’s really hard to control. I mean, OK, all bits of your brain are hard to control, but the lizard brain is the worst. It basically tells your body what to do through chemicals and electrical signals. It doesn’t wait for evidence and it doesn’t think, it just has instincts. Your lizard brain is totally not rational or reasonable: all it wants to do is protect you. Fight, flight, freeze.
So I can tell myself rationally that talking to Linus in the same room and everything will be fine. No worries. What’s the problem? A conversation. What could be dangerous about a conversation?
But my stupid lizard brain is all, like, “Red alert! Danger! Run away! Panic! Panic!” And it’s pretty loud and convincing. And my body tends to listen to it, not to me. So that’s the bummer.
-Finding Audrey, Sophie Kinsella
Last review: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
Next review: Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins
Until next time!