The first YA novel from bestselling British author Sophie Kinsella (best known for the Shopaholic series,) is easily one of her best in recent times. Through the story of Audrey, a fourteen year old girl with Social Anxiety Disorder who no longer attends school after a bullying incident, the author expertly mixes in some dark themes with her trademark lightweight and humorous writing style. Audrey makes for an interesting heroine as she navigates her way through a serious illness, her first teenage romance and a dysfunctional but ultimately loving family.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed reading this one. I have been a bit disappointed with some of Sophie Kinsella's books of late, but those one was an absolute winner for me. The mix of darker and lighter themes seemed to work well. The author absolutely nailed one of the darkest aspects of schoolyard bullying--which kid is likely to become a victim. Audrey is a good kid. She is smart, kind and she never really steps out of line in any serious or meaningful way. She also has a mental illness. Sadly it is often the case that kids like Audrey who get chosen by bullies--good kids, who just happen to be a bit vulnerable than some of the others. The author also has a lot to say about the role of the school and the parents of bullies and most of it is far more honest than it is complimentary.
I suppose what I am trying to say is that there is a real truth in there to Audrey's story.
There is also a great B storyline about how Audrey's react to her older brother, Frank, and his enjoyment of gaming, and how, despite her best efforts, their mother doesn't always get things right and that both parents can sometimes be quite hypocritical, even when they think that they are doing what is best for their children.
I thoroughly enjoyed this one and read most of it in one sitting.