“See, anxiety doesn’t just stop. You can have nice moments, minutes where it shrinks, but it doesn’t leave.”
My Rating: ★★★★
Genre(s): Contemporary, Young Adult, Mental Health/Illness
Reading Challenge: 7 out of 50
Goodreads Synopsis —
At seventeen, Norah has accepted that the four walls of her house delineate her life. She knows that fearing everything from inland tsunamis to odd numbers is irrational, but her mind insists the world outside is too big, too dangerous. So she stays safe inside, watching others’ lives through her windows and social media feed.
But when Luke arrives on her doorstep, he doesn’t see a girl defined by medical terms and mental health. Instead, he sees a girl who is funny, smart, and brave. And Norah likes what he sees.
Their friendship turns deeper, but Norah knows Luke deserves a normal girl. One who can walk beneath the open sky. One who is unafraid of kissing. One who isn’t so screwed up. Can she let him go for his own good—or can Norah learn to see herself through Luke’s eyes?
My Thoughts —
Where, oh where, was this book when I was in high school?
Let’s talk about mental illness representation for a second, as it’s obviously a major aspect of this novel. In the six agonizingly long years I’ve suffered from severe, sometimes debilitating, social anxiety disorder, I’ve never related to a book as much as I did to Under Rose-Tainted Skies. I can’t even begin to tell you how important it is to me that this book exists. I spent a large portion of my teen years having people say things like, “You have anxiety? So, you get stressed… So does everyone else.” IT’S SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT. And this book actually shows the nitty-gritty side of anxiety. The depiction of anxiety in this book was so spot-on to my personal experiences that I was questioning if I’d maybe just wrote it myself lol. I haven’t come across many people who have fully understood or experienced my anxiety triggers (although I know there’s people out there somewhere!). But Norah did. I really hope someday I can write a novel that makes people feel as comforted as this made me feel.
Admittedly, I did have this awful premonition in the first-third of the book that Luke, the boy-next-door, would end up ~saving~ Norah by somehow curing her mental illness with ~love~… blegh. For a split second, I considered putting this book down before it got to that point because I just couldn’t handle if it did. Luckily I kept reading because hooray! It didn’t happen! No magical curative love powers here! The relationship between Luke and Norah was sweet and realistic. Sometimes I feel that in the YA genre, authors can often forget how teenagers are awkward, nervous, and inexperienced kids. I like how Norah doesn’t know what she’s doing in a relationship. I also appreciated how Norah’s mental illness never took a backseat to the gushy stuff and her anxiety wasn’t used as a device to further the romantic plot.
The ending was… a bit rushed, in my opinion. It felt as though we were building up to something huge that ended up being quickly resolved and tucked away. I could’ve done with a few more pages in that final scene. Overall though, this was a great novel. I would totally read this again.
Did you read Under Rose-Tainted Skies? Did you agree with the representation of mental illness?