Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on 9 June 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult
Reading Challenges: 2016 HW Challenge
An anxiety disorder disrupts fourteen-year-old Audrey’s daily life. She has been making slow but steady progress with Dr. Sarah, but when Audrey meets Linus, her brother’s gaming teammate, she is energized. She connects with him. Audrey can talk through her fears with Linus in a way she’s never been able to do with anyone before. As their friendship deepens and her recovery gains momentum, a sweet romantic connection develops, one that helps not just Audrey but also her entire family.
Finding Audrey is the brilliantly narrated story about Audrey – who suffers from social anxiety after something very bad happened to her at her school.
Because Finding Audrey is narrated by the eponymous heroine herself, in first person present tense – but with some scenes filmed by her camera – reading this story was like living with her for a while. While I don’t have any experience with mental illness myself, Audrey’s story felt very realistic to me, from the way she was hiding in the den, always wearing dark sunglasses, and not able to interact with many people at all. In the middle of a slightly chaotic family, and with her therapist’s help, she was slowly breaking out of her protective shell and managed to take baby-steps towards a social and interactive world she had stayed away from for months.
I loved Audrey’s family! And also her analysis of them all! She had her parents down pat, especially her mom, who was always trying her best, but somehow often missing the actual point when it came to her teenaged children. Frank, Audrey’s older brother, played a lot of video games, and their mom suddenly decided he was addicted to one game in particular. The lengths she went to to stop him from playing were extreme, and at the same time, it was almost understandable that she felt like she had nothing else to do but throw Frank’s computer out the window.
With a lot of help, Audrey managed to first start talking to Linus, one of Frank’s friends, by sending her little brother with notes. Then, little by little they were able to talk in person, touch (first only the soles of their shoes) and finally leave the house and live in the outside world for short moments. I loved that Audrey never wanted to give up, even when she was feeling frantic about doing something, she somehow managed to take those small steps she needed to take in order to get better.
One of the most beautiful things for me in Finding Audrey was not only that she had to find herself once more, but that she had to realize that life is full of ups and downs for all of us. And I can’t really imagine how hard it must be for someone who just cannot deal with other people, to leave their house, interact, not feel judged and self-conscious. I have no idea if what Audrey lived with would be realistic for a person with social anxiety, but for me, it was eye-opening, as my heart was speeding up when hers was, from thinking about a situation that made her anxiety spike.
Well-written, and frankly, quite light-hearted despite the difficult subject, Finding Audrey was my first Kinsella read, but it won’t be the last. Able to tackle something that makes life difficult for so many people in a respectful way, and still managing to insert some humour, hope and love into the story, Kinsella got me attached to Audrey from the very first page!
Felix is our little brother. He’s four. He greets most life events with disbelieving joy. A lorry in the street! Ketchup! An extra-long chip! Mom throwing a computer out of the window is just one of the list of daily miracles.
My dad is tall and handsome in a car advert way, and he looks like the boss, but inside, he isn’t really an alpha male. No, that sounds bad. He’s alpha in a lot of ways, I suppose. Only Mum is even more alpha.She’s strong and bossy and pretty and bossy. I said bossy twice, didn’t I? Well. Draw your own conclusions from that.
‘Look, it’s the celebrity!’ quips Ollie’s dad, Rob. He’s been calling me ‘the celebrity’ for the last four weeks, even though Mum and Dad have separately been over to ask him to stop. He thinks it’s funny and that my parents have no sense of humour. (I’ve often noticed that people equate ‘having a sense of humour’ with ‘being an insensitive moron’.)
I take off my dark glasses and look into his round, open little face. Felix is the only one I can cope with looking at, eye to eye. My parents’ eyes – forget it. They’re full of worry and fear and too much knowledge. And kind of too much love, if that makes sense?