Title: Under Rose-Tainted Skies
Author: Louise Gornall
Publisher: Clarion Books
Pub Date: January 3, 2017
Genre(s): YA, Contemporary, Mental Health, Romance
Goodreads || Buy on Amazon
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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?
“I just want to have proof that I can think straight, that I am more than the girl who believes that odd numbers will cause a catastrophe.”
I really love this book. But more importantly, I appreciate it.
I suffer from agoraphobia, general anxiety, and some obsessive-compulsive tendencies but I don’t know if that gives me the authority to say whether or not this book is an accurate representation of these issues. Mental illness manifests itself differently in everyone.
That being said, I thought Norah was a very authentic character. I could easily see parts of myself in her and that was a really comforting feeling. I don’t usually relate to YA characters so this was a welcome change. The author didn’t portray her anxiety or fears as pretty and whimsical. Norah had ugly, morbid, and obscure thoughts. Perhaps some people would find them to be disturbing, but to me, they were simply real. And valid.
It’s important to mention that this is an Own Voices novel, so even if Norah’s story is not your truth, it is the author’s truth, and we should all respect that. I personally found this to be a courageous and heartwarming story, but maybe that won’t be the case for others.
Now let’s talk about the boy. He’s cute and understanding and doesn’t run away when Norah freaks out, but that doesn’t mean he “fixes” her. If you are worried that this story romanticizes mental illness or suggests that the attention of a boy can cure a mentally ill girl, it does not. The romance does not cure her illness. She is still ill, but now she is working through her fears with someone other than her mother and her therapist. He is her friend (who also happens to like her, a lot).
My only criticism (if you can even call it that) is that I wanted Norah to make a friend that wasn’t also her love interest. Maybe even a girl? That’s why this is a 4.5 instead of a 5-star book. I just wanted to see a nice, supportive (and platonic) friendship come out of this. Luke was nice though. I have no complaints about him. In fact, I really can’t think of anything else I’d change about this story or the people in it. Even the writing was quirky and fast-paced. I loved everything about it and devoured it in one sitting.
I highly recommend this book if you’re looking for a contemporary read with a realistic depiction of mental illness.
P.S. This book was nothing like Everything, Everything. I didn’t think about that book even once while reading this.
P.P.S. If you do decide to read this book, I would also like to warn you that there might be some triggering content about self-harm. Please keep this in mind if you know it will hurt you. Stay safe.