Saturday, January 7, 2017

Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

Norah has agoraphobia and OCD. When groceries are left on the porch, she can’t step out to get them. Struggling to snag the bags with a stick, she meets Luke. He’s sweet and funny, and he just caught her fishing for groceries. Because of course he did.

Norah can’t leave the house, but can she let someone in? As their friendship grows deeper, Norah realizes Luke deserves a normal girl. One who can lie on the front lawn and look up at the stars. One who isn’t so screwed up.

Readers themselves will fall in love with Norah in this poignant, humorous, and deeply engaging portrait of a teen struggling to find the strength to face her demons.

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Under Rose-Tainted Skies was a fascinating read. I’ve had a difficult time as of late, sitting down and actually reading a book. I’ve turned to audiobooks more and more in order to feed my need for entertainment. This marks the second book of the year to suck me in and earn five stars. Norah’s agoraphobia, OCD, cutting, and other forms self-mutilation insured that my professional brain would be engaged, but Gornall takes it one step further by complicating Norah’s mental health issues with a crush… on the boy next door… who just might have what it takes to sneak past Norah’s walls and worm his way into her heart. After all, the guy who can make her contemplate holding hands and kissing has to be something special.

As an introvert who suffers from grief-induced depression, I saw myself in some of Norah’s behaviors. As someone who works with persons with autism, I saw some of my clients in Norah’s behaviors. As someone who has a family tree filled with addictive personalities, I saw some of my family members in Norah’s behaviors. Why? Because mental illness affects more people than we realize, and while it may share features among people, it’s different in each person. One of the many, many things I appreciated about Under Rose-Tainted Skies is that Norah’s thoughts would occasionally swirl around others’ past comments that she doesn’t look mentally ill. Far too often, persons with mental illness are dismissed or doubted because they don’t “look” ill and/or they’ve become accomplished at putting on a brave face in front of others. Although significant progress has been made, society still tends to unfairly judge people with a mental illness. But by using a seventeen-year-old girl whose issues have made her prisoner in her own home, held hostage there by her own mind, Gornall humanizes mental illness in a very effective way, especially when the reader is trapped in Norah’s whirlwind thoughts that she knows logically conflict with one another, are downright ridiculous, yet can do nothing to stop them – well, short of hurting herself, that is. I wept for Norah. Repeatedly. But I also laughed with Norah because the author does not paint her in a stereotypical manner as a pathetic human being who is so crippled by her illness that she cannot do for herself. No, Norah is a very capable girl who excels at her studies and who possesses a quick wit with a sarcastic bite to it (even if her mouth doesn’t always cooperate to let her say what she means) – and I loved her for it.

I should note that I also wept for Luke. When he gets caught up in the moment and forgets to respect Norah’s boundaries, I was as devastated for him as I was for her. What made Luke such a good fit for Norah was that he’s learned to accept and live with his father’s wanderlust, so he didn’t see Norah’s OCD as the glaring oddity that she did (or many others would have). He knew Nora was different and accepted her behaviors as the eccentricities that made her who she was and did so without having to know every detail about her mental illness. But it was because he was so accepting of Norah as she was, that Luke made the mistake he did, and his remorse when he realized what he did was immediate and obvious. The notes he wrote to her broke my heart and made me cry for the both of them. Yet despite the wedge that incident drove between them, Luke was there for Norah when she was forced to face one of her worst nightmares come to life – a scene during which I wanted to chew my fingernails off because my anxiety for Norah was off the charts. While there is a lot that I loved about Under Rose-Tainted Skies, I think that perhaps the thing I enjoyed the most about the book is that the author didn’t try to “heal” Norah at the end. This is likely due to Gornall’s own struggles (revealed at the beginning of the book), knowing that to do so would have been beyond unrealistic considering the time frame of the novel, but I still appreciated the authenticity of Norah’s treatment and her daily struggles. I cannot adequately express how much I enjoyed Under Rose-Tainted Skies except to say I anxiously await the author’s next book.

My name is Louise, and I write YA books. Sometimes contemp, sometimes horror, sometimes thriller. My debut YA contemp, Under Rose-Tainted Skies, will be published by HMH/Clarion (US), and Chicken House/Scholastic (UK) in the fall 2016/17.

Under Rose-Tainted Skies is about this chick, Norah, who suffers from agoraphobia, OCD and depression. Her life is one long blur of cheese sandwiches and trash tv, until she meets the new boy next door, Luke, and he starts to challenge her way of thinking.

Connect with Louise

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall to read and review.

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