Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books
Publication date: February 25th 2014
My rating: 4 stars
Alexi Littrell hasn't told anyone what happened to her over the summer. Ashamed and embarrassed, she hides in her closet and compulsively scratches the back of her neck, trying to make the outside hurt more than the inside does. When Bodee Lennox, the quiet and awkward boy next door, comes to live with the Littrells, Alexi discovers an unlikely friend in "the Kool-Aid Kid," who has secrets of his own. As they lean on each other for support, Alexi gives him the strength to deal with his past, and Bodee helps her find the courage to finally face the truth.
“After what I’ve been through, I’m like a burnt and crumbly cake that some sly baker covers up with beautiful icing. So even if he likes me on the outside, my inside is tasteless crap”
I’ve been on an emotional book binge lately; books which have been leaving me emotionally overwhelmed or have such sweet scenes that tug at your heart strings have been hitting the right spot. I seem to be going through phases like this at times, and right now I don’t feel like reading anything else. Me Since You and Maybe One Day were the last beautiful heart breaking books which I read and Faking Normal has now provided another gorgeous read. I admit reading the blurb a few months back and then just deciding to give it a go whilst I had a short break at work. This was definitely the wrong time to pick the book up, as I felt my heart getting crushed in the very beginning, also I knew I wanted to spend the rest of the day in the coffee shop with this beautiful story.
Steven’s did a brilliant job in depicting the sense of loss, confusion and fear that our characters Bodee and Alexi were experiencing. I felt like I was experiencing every single emotion with them. Bodee and Alexi knew of each other through school and their mums were friends, but they never really spoke to each other, that’s until Bodee’s mum was killed and Alexi’s parents decide that he needs some stability in his life, so let Bodee stay with them for a little while. It is awkward at first for Alexi, as no one at school really talks to Bodee either, so it’s a bit difficult at having to explain that the Kool-Aid Kid is living with you. But Alexi takes it in her stride and before you know it, Bodee ends up being her anchor of strength. Because Alexi has a secret of her own too and although were given fragments of her story over the course of the book, we don’t really know how deeply she is affected by what has happened to her. Although Bodee is quiet and likes to stay in the background, he’s quick to pick up on that there’s something going on with Alexi, and being the decent guy that he is, he doesn’t force Alexi to tell him everything, but provides her the comfort and reassurance that he will be around whenever she needs him to be. And that is what Alexi needs the most, she has a great set of friends in Heather and Liz and great parents, but she’s always blamed herself since it’s happened and so Bodee couldn’t have moved in at a better time.
I adore watching the friendship bloom between Bodee and Alexi; both were able to take strength from their friendship to help them cope with their tough situations. What surprised me the most about this book was that I was able to guess something from the very beginning like who Captain Lyric was (this was a person who liked to leave lyrics on Alexi’s fourth lesson table and Alexi used to leave lyrics in return, it was a thing they had going for some time and was definitely Alexi’s highlight of her day, as Captain lyric always knew the right lyrics to write at the right time.) But then concerning the other thing, all the clues pointed to one person for who was to blame, she’d been avoiding this person since that night, their friendship that they had also not been the same, so when the truth was revealed it was a sucker punch blow.
Steven’s has really shone as a brilliant author with Faking normal, with all the contemporary books already out there, it really is hard first of all to even get on a readers radar, but then to create such a memorable read with your debut is utterly impressive. Her writing was always purposeful, poignant and so powerful. Her characters were deep and meaningful and the detail she added to her story was truly magnificent. Despite Faking Normal dealing with many tough issues, I’m sure that this will be a story that I will pick up many more times in the near future. Bodee and Alexi’s story has definitely left a mark with me which will guarantee that.