Author: Louise Gornall
Publisher: Chicken House
Publication Date:7. July 2016
Rating: 4/5. Stars
TW: self-harm, dermatillomania
Diversity: mentally ill characters, disabled characters
Summary: Agoraphobia confines Norah to the house she shares with her mother.
For her, the outside is sky glimpsed through glass, or a gauntlet to run between home and car. But a chance encounter on the doorstep changes everything: Luke, her new neighbour. Norah is determined to be the girl she thinks Luke deserves: a ‘normal’ girl, her skies unfiltered by the lens of mental illness. Instead, her love and bravery opens a window to unexpected truths …
A wonderful alternative to Everything-Everything, this book features an actually housebound MC and her blooming romance with her next-door neighbour Luke. I picked this book up because it was recommended by bookavid so much that I couldn’t help but feel hyped for it, but I still feared that it would feature a cured-by-love mindset, something which I’ve seen happening so often I lost count in stories featuring f.e. depression. Thankfully this didn’t happen at all. The ending made me cry happy tears (and I was close to tears several times while reading) and I can’t even imagine how powerful this book must be for people suffering from agoraphobia, disabilities or other mental illnesses that make it hard for them to leave the house.
The story features Norah, a girl with agoraphobia, anxiety, depression and OCD. Not long after her first panic attack caused her to faint and end up in the hospital, she has been living at home with her mother, has been home thought and only ever left the house to go to her therapist. This is a weekly struggle and Norah suffers a lot from it. One thing you don’t ever forget during the novel is how real it feels because Gornall doesn’t shy away from showing Norah’s struggles. It’s also clear throughout the book that Gornall knows what she’s talking about, which makes it even more powerful. Norah struggles with her problems on every single page of the book and the books ending is simply wonderful and so, so hopeful. During some scenes, however, I wish I had been warned for the self-harm. Norah self-harms by cutting herself a few times in the book and it caught me unexpectedly, so be careful. (She also self-harms by scratching her skin, which she refuses to see as self-harm, which felt really relatable to me because I did the same thing and also refused to see it as self-harm. I definitely love that it showed that there are more than one way people can self-harm)
While the romance didn’t blow me away, it was still very sweet and Luke is a really sweet guy, who never overstepped Norah’s boundaries or pushed her to do something she wasn’t comfortable with, except once, for which he apologized and did research after to get better, which was lovely to read. (Also Norah was allowed to be pissed at him for a while for hurting her, which definitely made me enjoy their romance more than I would have otherwise) My favorite part is still that while Luke supported Norah in getting better, it is shown explicitly that it was her own strength that helped her in the end, which was wonderful to read.
Also, I really love Norah. I love how her life is narrated, her daily struggles, the terror of going outside, her OCD about getting sick and needing things to be in a correct order, her relationship with her mom. I love that it’s just her everyday life and how her mental illnesses influence that and yet it never gets boring.
So if you’re looking for a wonderful book about mental illness with a side-dash of romance, no love-cures-all twist (yessssss) and a simply wonderful ownvoices story about agoraphobia, OCD and depression, please read this book, because it is honestly so good.