Tone and topic are at odds
Kinsella is a great writer and parts of this book are excellent. But other parts are … just not quite right. She’s chosen difficult topics to treat in a jokey way – bullying and mental illness. A lot of the time she does it extremely well, but at others the clash of subject v. tone jars. She also jumps through Audrey’s recovery process in a way that isn’t at all realistic.
There is lots to like about this book. The scene with the bullying girl Izzy whose parents can’t see she did anything wrong is spot on. Audrey’s mother is a bit over the top, but then I think Kinsella does specialise in over-the-top characters, and they have enough real touches to be relatable. The brother Frank is also excellent, as is the relationship between the two siblings. I think it’s just the premise of the story I’m not comfortable with, or the way it is handled.
Some set piece scenes that feel like Kinsella wanted to write them because they are fun/funny rather than necessary for the story or realistically likely to happen.
An enjoyable book to read if you aren’t currently suffering from bullying or mental illness. If you’re feeling fragile I’m not sure it’s one for you. Audrey makes a fairly miraculous recovery and not all of us manage that. Mental illness is not something that can be cured by finding a boyfriend.
If we did half-stars I’d probably give this 3 and a half, but as I don’t it’s a 3.
Review by Gill-Marie Stewart
Gill-Marie writes YA mystery/romances as Gill-Marie Stewart. As Gilly Stewart she also writes women’s contemporary fiction. The first book in her YA series about George and Finn is Music and Lies (try out the first chapter here).