Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall
Also by this author: Under Rose-Tainted Skies
Published by Clarion Books on January 3rd 2017
Norah has agoraphobia and OCD. When groceries are left on the porch, she can’t step out to get them. Struggling to snag the bags with a stick, she meets Luke. He’s sweet and funny, and he just caught her fishing for groceries. Because of course he did.
Norah can’t leave the house, but can she let someone in? As their friendship grows deeper, Norah realizes Luke deserves a normal girl. One who can lie on the front lawn and look up at the stars. One who isn’t so screwed up.
We both agreed on every aspect of this one (with slight variations) and it was sort of shocking to both of us because usually we have some differences. However, after reading other reviews, it is apparent that most of the people who read this book feel the same way about the book: it has great representation, but not much actually happened.
We thought Norah’s stream of thoughts were pretty identical to how people with agoraphobia and other anxiety disorders view the world. We are really glad that more and more authors are starting to write characters who have mental illness and doing so well and realistically. We also liked how there were differences in how her mental illness manifested depending on various factors, like time of day and energy levels. You can tell this book was written by someone who has experienced mental illness because it doesn’t read like a checklist of symptoms that always occur. Mental illness is more nuanced than that.
We loved the therapist and the positive therapy aspects of this. Norah’s doctor was really understanding of her troubles and worked with her to keep her inside her comfort zone and also push her a bit outside of it to make her see that she had rational and irrational fears that could be dealt with. And it was nice to see that Norah wasn’t Cured at the end of the book. The ending was hopeful, but it showed that problems don’t just disappear. It also showed that things can get gradually more manageable, and that people with mental illnesses can still have things like relationships.
However, the pacing was a little off in some places. It dragged in some places and that the timeline didn’t quite add up as well. We had to keep reminding ourselves of what day it was, how much time had gone by, etc. and it made it a bit more confusing than we would have liked. To top it off, it made it seem as though only a short period of time had passed throughout the novel even though it probably took place over about 3 months.
Also, as much as Jamie really enjoyed the representation of the mental illness, she thought it is SO STRANGE that Norah would be THAT BAD and not be on ANY medication or hospitalized. Norah makes mention of anxiety meds that she has never taken and that she can’t take meds because she can’t swallow them and Jamie had to roll my eyes at that.
There are ways around that and honestly if you are so anxious to leave your house, interact with people, etc. then there is no way that a doctor wouldn’t recommend more than just weekly sessions. And the idea that meds were not a thing that Norah wanted made me sad because meds are so important!
We thought that the last arc of the book was underwhelming as well because there was nothing to really lead up to it, rather it came out of nowhere to have some sort of conflict at the end of the book. It made both of us feel weird because it was so awkwardly placed in there that we couldn’t quite get behind it. If it hadn’t been for that last 20 or so pages, we would have rated the book higher.
However, this has FANTASTIC mental health representation and a character that does what she can to live her life with her illness. It was nice to see it on the page, it just would have been nice to have something else happen as well — and for that to feel natural rather than shoved in so that Something Could Happen at the end of the book.
Dani: Three and a Half out of Five
Jamie: Three out of Five
Overall: Three out of Five
This guest review was contributed by Books are My Fandom. BAMF is two Bookish Beasties who love reading YA and NA literature, especially fantasy, contemporary, sci-fi and dystopian books. They heart indie & debut authors! They also offer paid Beta reader and Proofreading services.