“See, anxiety doesn’t just stop. You can have nice moments, minutes where it shrinks, but it doesn’t leave.”
Where, oh where, was this book when I was in high school?!
Hello everyone and welcome back! Today I’m reviewing one of my favourite books of the year so far, Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall. I cannot wait to share my thoughts on this one with you guys because it seriously hits close to home.
Under Rose-Tainted Skies is a young adults novel about a teenaged girl named Norah who suffers from severe anxiety, OCD, and agoraphobia. Her mental illness makes it practically impossible for her to leave her home, even for just a minute. Her life flips upside down when her mum has to go away for work, leaving Norah to fend for herself as she tries to avoid a curious new boy who’s just moved in next-door.
Let’s talk about mental illness representation for a sec, as it’s obviously a major component of this novel. In the six agonizingly long years that I’ve suffered from severe, sometimes debilitating, diagnosed anxiety disorder, I have never related to any book as much 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 a lot?”. 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 life that I was for real questioning if I wrote it myself. I kept turning to my boyfriend and saying, “Oh my god, Norah does this exact same thing I do”. I haven’t come across many people that have understood my anxiety triggers (although I know they’re out there somewhere!). But Norah did. I really hope someday I can write a novel that makes people feel as comforted as this book made me feel.
I did have this awful premonition in this 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 just a split second, I considered putting the book down before it got to that point, because I just couldn’t handle it. Thank god I kept reading because hoorah, it didn’t happen! No magical curative love powers here! The relationship between Luke and Norah was sweet and realistic. Sometimes I feel like YA authors can forget how teenagers are awkward, nervous, and, a lot of the time, inexperienced. I like how Norah doesn’t know what she’s doing in relationships. I also appreciated how Norah’s mental illness never took a backseat in their relationship 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 like we were building up to something that was very quickly resolved and tucked away. I could have done with a few more pages in that final scene. Overall though, this was a great novel. I actually think it’d be the perfect book to assign to students in high school, as it’s a great conversation starter and brights to light the topic of mental illness as a whole. I would totally read this again.
Did you read Under Rose-Tainted Skies? Did you agree with the representation of mental illness?
Goodreads Challenge: 7 out of 50