Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Anxiety and Addiction and...a lot of Humour

Finding Audrey, Sophie Kinsella
A book-loving friend of mine gave me a copy of this saying, "I think you'll enjoy this."  She was right.  I enjoyed it.
  • I read lots of sections aloud because I found them so funny.  Fun dialogue!
  • I think part of why I enjoyed it is because I was relating to the parents, not the teens, in this tale.  Often when I read YA, I'm right there with the protag -- either by memory of my own youth or because the protag seems very adult.  In Finding Audrey, I could relate to Audrey's mother's concerns and laughed at their family scenes more because of it.
  • A lot of the relate-ability was in the mother's growing concern over her older brother's gaming habits.  Haki has a pretty hard core love for gaming, and so resisting the mainstream need for the screen spoke to me, yes.  I felt her pain. The parodies of popular online games (like WoW and LoL) and their associated culture was great.
  • I know some people find it disappointing that the mother is described as crazy and portrayed as foolish.  For me, the tale is from Audrey's perspective, and I think she views her mother with a hyperbolic lens for much of the story.  When "the scales fall from her eyes" and allow her to adopt a more empathetic view, her mother isn't crazy to her anymore.  I am fine with the parent portrayals, perspective considered.  
  • I can see how some feminists reading this would object to Audrey's blooming romance coinciding with breakthroughs with her social anxiety.  Yeah, it'd be great if she "saved herself" and didn't need a male coming in to the rescue.  Buuuut, then, with mental illness "saving yourself" isn't really how things go -- help is needed!  And I didn't see the love interest as the only help or factor -- or even the chief factor -- in her progress.  I would argue her counsellor was the biggest influence, and after that, perhaps her brother.  I would hope more readers would find the takeaway: "When you are mentally unwell you need support, understanding and love from professionals, family and friends."  Audrey gets those things.  But I get it, I can see the correlation could be a burr for some.
  • I really appreciate the acknowledgement that there is no "cure" or being "fixed" -- that ups and downs will continue to be a part of the journey, whatever we struggle with.  I think this is a great message.
  • I like that although Audrey's brother is doing some stuff I find annoying, he is loyal and loving too.  People are like that.  Kudos, Kinsella.
  • The narrative switches between first-person narration and screenplay excerpts.  I think it works. 
  • There are probably 5-10 swear words.  No sex scenes.  Some making out.  No drug use, although there is some alcohol consumption.
Overall I really enjoyed this book.  It's not something I'd snatch up and start creating teaching and learning units for...but that said, I could pull a unit from it if you made me.  It was a fun and fast read, I don't have any major objections to the content, and I think it does a great job of capturing a snapshot of time in this family's life.  This is a great option for parents wanting to nudge teens towards "teen stories" that aren't John Green, in that it's still very current and funny, but lacks the seriously mature content some might object to in much of popular contemporary YA.
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