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.



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