Published by HarperCollins on February 25th 2014
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult
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<p><strong>An edgy, realistic, and utterly captivating novel from an exciting new voice in teen fiction.</strong></p>
<p>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.</p>
<p>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.</p>
<p>A searing, poignant book, Faking Normal is the extraordinary debut novel from an exciting new author-Courtney C. Stevens.</p>
Sometimes it is hard to find words for a book that is both heartbreaking and touching. That is my dilemma in writing this review, but I will do my very best.
Alexi was sexually assaulted. By someone close to her. But no one knows. Not her closest friends, her family, no one. She tries to move past it with ‘him’, since he is a part of her life still, and she tries to avoid it by pretending. But she can’t. She secretly breaks down in the comfort of her closet, the only place she feels like she can, and takes to scratching herself and counting the open slits on an air vent in her room just to get by. It’s heartbreaking and gut-wrenching to see a girl blame herself so much for something that was not her fault and remain under so much stress by pretending everything is fine. We aren’t immediately told just who in her life took advantage of her but we get clues and have it narrowed down to a select few. I won’t touch upon whether or not I had it figured out because I don’t think it really matters. It’s rough to see Alexi interact with these boys/men, the suspects. Knowing how one broke her and remained a part of her life is a nightmare to think about. But she does find someone to eventually confide in.
Bodee. Bodee is the Kool-Aid kid. A quiet boy who likes to dye his hair with Kool-Aid packets everyday. Unfortunately he has his own sad story and Alexi’s family offers to take him in temporarily. Alexi and Bodee were never really friends before this but both find some solace in each other and a comradery in their grief. Bodee was actually a firm voice of reason for Alexi. It’s hard to imagine someone going through what he was focusing on someone elses problems but I think in the end it helped him through his too. Their quiet friendship was beautiful. It was build on a mutual understanding and respect to be only what the other needed in that moment. The path to something more just beginning to be paved, but in such a sweet and emotional way that really touched me.
There are other facets to the plot – Alexi’s friends trying to set her up with other boys and her interest for a boy, whom she called Captain Lyric, that was sharing lyrics on a desk with her anonymously, and so on, but for me the story was all about Alexi and Bodee and their recovery. Those other pieces blended well into the plot, making it much more complex and leading to an end that was just what I was hoping it would be. I think this story is a wonderful one to be out there. It shows a very real side of different forms of abuse and I hope it might inspire anyone holding a secret like that in to share with someone they trust and find a way to get help.
The writing was extraordinary and it’s hard to believe this is coming from a debut author. I expect some amazing things to come from her in the future. Thank you Courtney C. Stevens for writing this.
Right now we’re both yard sales of emotions. A penny for pain. A dime for bitterness. A quarter for grief. A dollar for silence. It binds us together, but I don’t want him to pay the price for the parts of me that are used and broken.