Faking Normal by Courteney C. Stevens

HarperCollins | Hardback, 336 pages
February 25th, 2014
Young Adult | Fiction
Rating: 1 out of 5 Stars

“The power of Bodee is in the way he reads me, sees through me, and then understands the truth behind the facade. No one can ride tragedy like a pro surfer while I drown.” – Chapter 9, page 95

Alexi and Bodee has absolutely nothing in common; they walk the halls barely acknowledging each other, and they exist in the opposing sides of the social hierarchy. But when Bodee’s mother died in the hands of his father, their relationship changed from not having one into something where they became each other’s panacea. Alexi seems to be the only one who could reach him in his perpetual quiet existence, while Bodee seems to be the only one who knows when Alexi’s need to retreat from the world becomes too impossible to ignore. Hand in hand, Alexi and Bodee will find a way to face each other’s demons.

Alexi can’t hide from her what had happened to her in the summer; not even in the closet where she harms herself. But if there’s one thing that makes her forget, it’s the messages she receives from a mysterious boy in fourth period. Messages that come from song lyrics that seem to reflect how she felt, and what she needed at any given time. I like this element of Alexi’s story. The mystery surrounding the lyrics writer gave me a break from gnashing my teeth to powdered form. If I can forget how one particular aspect of story made me so hopping mad, I  say this book would’ve been a solid four stars. But I can’t. Even now, merely a week after I read this book, it still makes me mad to think about it.

I really hate it when a relevant issue gets lost in the background noise of the story: the dating rituals of teenagers. Alexi’s inability to say, no. Alexi’s sister’s and friends’ seemingly petty, vapid, more often poisonous treatment of her, and the way they dismissed her just irritated me to no end. There was a couple of times when I stopped and breathed for minutes just to get through this book. Otherwise, kindling would’ve been in its future. There is also one instance when she was [spoiler] almost raped by a boy [spoiler] and was thankfully stopped, but told those who saw that it was all a mistake. Are you fucking kidding me? Oh and the kicker? Bodee just took her word for it like it was no big, when he saw what happened! Ugh.

As much as I should’ve been more sympathetic, I really couldn’t with a Mary Sue character. And Alexi was a big pushover. I get it, you know? I get that she’s physically, emotionally, and mentally traumatized but in light of what had happened to her, the carefree attitude she had with the boys around her, and ultimately how she let everyone ran roughshod over her, just didn’t make any sense. I don’t know about you, but if I’d been in a situation that became the root cause of my trauma, I would be wary of being in the same situation again.

How do I really feel about the book? Well, I say, I think there’s a good chance that you will probably have a much more pleasant time reading this than I did. There is an issue here that the author handled poorly, in my opinion. I feel that with all the insipidity that happened in the background, I was distracted by how much it angered me. I do like the kinship between Alexi and Bodee, and the mystery of “Captain Lyrics” was a nice touch. Over all, the book’s intended meaning got buried amongst the trivialities of high school life. Unfortunate, really.



  • 1 star!? Wow, it’s a skip for me then 🙂

  • I’m glad I read this review. I haven’t read this book yet but I have seen a lot of positive reviews so I was planning on it. But reading your 3rd paragraph, I wonder if I won’t have the same points of frustration. Not to say I definitely won’t read it, but I am much more weary now and will approach with caution.

  • I’m so glad I didn’t snag this when it was available. I debated it, but ultimately decided it wasn’t for me. Looks like I was right. It does suck when the overall meaning of a story gets lost in high school relationships. And blowing off an almost attack is rage-inducing. I hope your next book is much, much better.

  • Ahh, I’m always confusing this book with Skin by Donna Jo Napoli (a book I loved) in my head… I blame the covers.

    I haven’t read Faking Normal, but I can’t stand Mary Sues so I think I made a good decision when I skipped this.

  • Wow, we actually had quite similar thoughts on this book Joy! I just couldn’t understand why the MC kept on putting herself through that situation on the dating front and how she just couldn’t say no, even when THAT happened! It was really annoying and made me irate too. Lovely review.

  • wow, this book really pissed you off, Joy! I think I won’t be reading it anytime soon 🙂

  • I’ve not read this yet, and I gotta say that the cover and feel of it, kinda screamed “dark past”, haha.

    I don’t know what to expect now, I’ve seen mixed reviews about this one, I guess, I just have to read it to understand. haha 😀 Awesome review! 😀

  • Oh I’m sorry it wasn’t for you but I can understand the problem now… mainly with characters like that. I think I’ll pass. thanks for your review.

  • Ack. It still depresses me that you did not like this book, Joy. lol. But I understand you. I do. Though I did still enjoy it (A) but I also understand everything you say. I just didn’t mind that much while I read it :p Which confuses me a bit, hih. But anyway. Amazing review sweetie. <3 And I'm so sorry you had issues with this book. But still, you are awesome for reading it 😀

  • I liked this book – I gave it 4 stars – but I COMPLETELY get why you had the reaction you did, Joy. In hindsight, I’m surprised I wasn’t tougher on certain elements of the book, but I guess I was in a tolerant mood.

    • Lol! Caught you in a good day, I guess. 🙂 I get those days too.

  • Sabrinamk

    I haven’t read this one, but what a bummer to have such a poor reading experience. Unfortunately, some of the things you mentioned above are how real people do handle it. Maybe the author was trying to capture a realistic (although obviously upsetting) picture of that. Not sure that I’ll read it after your review though. I don’t think I’d enjoy it either. :/

  • Aaww, reviews for this book is mixed but I can totally understand not being able to get over an aspect that you didn’t like, how it affects your overall view of the book. I’ve been there too. I don’t think I’d be comfortable with how the main female character’s pushover personality…and I really don’t like high school politics and drama anymore. I think because I am older, I’m at that stage in my life where I can’t stand people letting other people walk all over them. You don’t have to be an amazon, but at least surround yourself with true friends. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy this, hopefully, your next read will be better! 🙂

  • I’ve been avoiding this one for quite sometime. I guess my instincts aren’t wrong.

  • Faye M.

    Aw, I’m saddened you didn’t like this too much, Joy. I do understand your sentiments, though – like you there were times that I wished Alexi stood up and not make herself such a doormat character, but in the end I think I understood why she did what she did. I’m hopeful your next read is better! 😀

    • Faye M.

      LOL I’m so sorry… I accidentally copied something and then hit “POST COMMENT”. Please edit the above comment and take out the link! 😀

      • Hahah! done. It is unfortunate that I couldn’t enjoy this, and that I couldn’t even defrost my heart for Alexi. But. It is what it is.

  • Aww, I’m sorry you felt that way! I was really able to connect with this and it pleasantly surprised me when I picked it up, but I do see where you’re coming from. Wonderfully written, thorough review! 🙂

    • Thanks, Keertana. I’m one of a very, very tiny minority who didn’t like this book. 🙂

  • I actually heard a lot of good reviews for this one, so honestly it’s refreshing to read something so different from a different kind of perspective. Now I am curious, since so many insisted she handled the topic quiet well.

    • Thanks, Lily. I feel like I’m one of the few who didn’t like this book at all. And that’s okay, I supposed. We can’t like everything. 🙂

  • I’ve heard mixed feelings about this book. I was excited, but as the release date came I saw some bad reviews and until now I still haven’t bought it. I think the issue isn’t something I would endure, and I read the spoiler when I read your review (because I have a habit to drag my mouse following my reading line lol), and I think I can’t read it.

    • I just think that it should’ve been handled with much more delicacy. There was an instance where her friend is sort of doing a raffle thing about whom she should date first. I mean, really?! ugh.

  • Gah, I really don’t think this would be the read for me based on your review, I think there would be too much that would get on my nerves.

    Great honest review.!

    • Thanks, Ali. It was challenging, for sure. And truly unfortunate, too.

  • I’m sorry you didn’t like this one, Joy! D: It was one of my favorite reads so far this year, but I get what you mean about Alexi being a Mary Sue character.

    • Aww. I’m glad you liked it, Aimee. I just couldn’t. 🙁

  • i’m sorry this one just didn’t do it for you at all! I’ve heard mixed things about it and decided to put this one off since it just doesn’t seem like my type of deep meaninful book you know? I think a book with this certain topic should be handled a certain way and when they’re not it falls flat! hopefuly your next read is much more enjoyable!

    • Thanks, Lily. I seem to be the only one against the trend though, as everyone seems to like it. My biggest fault, I guess, is that I’d forgotten this is written for teens, and is about teens, so of course it’s told in a way for its intended audience.