The main selling point for this book is that it’s about a girl with social anxiety. But perhaps, the next main selling point is that it’s a YA book written by the chick-lit author Sophie Kinsella. A lot of people, on Goodreads, were getting exciting about Kinsella moving into the YA genre, and although I haven’t read any of her previous works, I can definitely say I was impressed by ‘Finding Audrey’.
Audrey suffers from social anxiety and depression. Because of this, she wears dark sunglasses all the time to avoid eye contact. Her brother, Frank, has a friend called Linus, who she slowly falls in love with, despite her lack of ability to communicate with strangers without running away.
However, I’d say most of this book was devoted to Audrey’s health-nut mother, desperate to get her children away from the computer. Frank and Linus want to enter an online tournament for a game called ‘Land of Conquerors’, but Frank’s abuse of Internet time leads to his mother taking some drastic measures.
I think Kinsella portrayed family life in it’s most realistic light. Audrey’s mother, Anne, was concerned about everything and hyper-strict. Her dad, Chris, was more laid back. Audrey has to make a documentary about her life in order to help overcome her anxiety, so she has to be a ‘fly on the wall’. As readers, we get to experience family feuds and discussions that I could imagine having with my own parents.
A comment lots of people make about YA is the absence of parents, or how they’re two-dimensional figures that don’t seem to care what their children do. What made me love ‘Finding Audrey’ so much was the sense of realism in her relationship with her mother. Parents typically don’t understand teenagers, and I think the struggles of being a parent and wanting what is best for them was well portrayed.
When reading ‘Finding Audrey’, I realised I loved every single character. Frank was a genius, Felix was the perfect four-year-old, Audrey was dynamic and had an interesting voice, but her parents were the icing on the cake. I’ve never read a book like this, and will recommend it to anyone, if just for Anne and Chris.
Audrey goes to counselling throughout the novel and has to do little projects, like go to a public place in order to overcome her problems. She’s scared at the beginning, but there’s definitely character development as she steps out of her shell and eventually loses her shades.
The one thing I had an issue with was the presence of Linus. He was a good guy, and super lovely to Audrey, but I felt that he didn’t truly understand what was wrong with her. He pushed her in directions she didn’t feel comfortable with and was unsympathetic when she wanted to make her own decisions. If I read into their relationship more, it seemed like you need to be in a relationship in order to feel ‘fixed’. I didn’t like the idea that Audrey didn’t have the strength to fix herself, and needed a boyfriend to prove her self worth.
Even though Audrey was going through difficult things (and we never understood what caused her to have her breakdown in the first place) she was an extremely relatable character. Every teenager struggles to discover their purpose in life, and I know I feel paranoid when someone looks at me and whispers. A lot of people are going to be able to love Audrey, and really connect with the journey she goes through. Despite her name being in the title, ‘Finding Audrey’ is the furthest from an egocentric novel as any book can be!
Overall, I’d give ‘Finding Audrey’ 4 stars. Seriously amazing, and amazingly serious, ‘Finding Audrey’ stands out amongst other books in the YA genre for being realistic, which is my highest praise. I hope Kinsella continues to write for young adults, because we sure do need more books like this on the shelves!