Goodreads Synopsis: An anxiety disorder disrupts fourteen-year-old Audrey’s daily life. She has been making slow but steady progress with Dr. Sarah, but when Audrey meets Linus, her brother’s gaming teammate, she is energized. She connects with him. Audrey can talk through her fears with Linus in a way she’s never been able to do with anyone before. As their friendship deepens and her recovery gains momentum, a sweet romantic connection develops, one that helps not just Audrey but also her entire family.
This is the first Sophie Kinsella book that I’ve read and it was a pleasant surprise. Finding Audrey is a cute and quick book ( I read it in a day) which is fun and light-hearted while dealing with heavier issues like anxiety and depression.
“To put you out of your misery, here’s the full diagnosis. Social Anxiety Disorder, General Anxiety Disorder and Depressive Episodes.”
As a psychology student, I’ve learned about these disorders, their symptoms and treatment options. That’s why I avoid reading books dealing with mental health issues out of the fact that they misrepresent the reality of mental illness. However, Audrey’s insight is humorous and real enough to believe which means Kinsella has done her research. The therapy sessions with Dr. Sarah mirror genuine techniques and valuable information for those suffering from anxiety and depression.
Also, some of the the things Audrey said were so on point.
“I am owed so much laughter. Sometimes I hope I’m building up a stockpile of missing laughs, and when I’ve recovered they’ll all come exploding out in one gigantic fit that lasts twenty-four hours.”
While it may sound like romance is the key aspect of the book, it really isn’t. There’s just as much emphasis on Audrey’s family as there is on Linus. However, what’s not very convincing is how Audrey’s recovery speeds up after meeting Linus which misleads people into falsely thinking, once again, that a boyfriend will fix all your problems. However, I appreciate that Kinsella wrote Linus as a balanced character, with moments of understanding as well as frustration. If he’d been a sweetheart who has endless patience and cheesy lines I’d have given up on this book. One moment that stood out in particular was when he shouted at Audrey, “Why can’t you just snap out of it?”, highlighting exactly what you DO NOT say to someone suffering from a mental illness.
However, Linus’ rhubarb analogy was spot on, uplifting and apt. This conversation via little notes was my favourite part of the book:
Linus: It won’t be for ever. You’ll be in the dark for as long as it takes and then you’ll come out.
Audrey: You think?
Linus: My aunt grows special rhubarb in dark sheds. They keep it dark and warm all winter and harvest it by candlelight and it’s the best stuff. She sells it for a fortune, btw.
Audrey: So what, I’m rhubarb?
Linus: Why not? If rhubarb needs time in the dark, maybe you do too.
Yet, my favourite character was neither Audrey nor Linus but actually Frank, Audrey’s brother. In fact, Audrey’s whole family was nice to read about.
However, if I could change one thing about the book, I’d provide a little more backstory on what happened to Audrey and the other girls who bullied her. Yet, in a way, the fact that it wasn’t clarified helped keep the focus on the future instead of the past which is the motto of recovery.
Overall, I enjoyed this book with its humour and sensitivity and am glad to have read that those suffering from anxiety and panic attacks have found the book just as enjoyable.