February 25, 2014

Review + Interview: Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens

Faking NormalTitle: Faking Normal
Author: Courtney C. Stevens
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: February 25, 2014
Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary

An edgy, realistic, and utterly captivating novel from an exciting new voice in teen fiction.
Alexi Littrell hasn't told anyone what happened to her over the summer. Ashamed and embarrassed, she hides in her closet and compulsively scratches the back of her neck, trying to make the outside hurt more than the inside does.
When Bodee Lennox, the quiet and awkward boy next door, comes to live with the Littrells, Alexi discovers an unlikely friend in "the Kool-Aid Kid," who has secrets of his own. As they lean on each other for support, Alexi gives him the strength to deal with his past, and Bodee helps her find the courage to finally face the truth.
A searing, poignant book, Faking Normal is the extraordinary debut novel from an exciting new author-Courtney C. Stevens.

Normally I stay away of books like this just because I know that at the end I’m going to be a mess of emotions. And I was right, it ripped my heart out of my chest and shattered into little pieces. It left me broken and without any words to express my emotions. The book was painfully beautiful and I have been having a really hard time trying to put my thoughts together to write a review that would do justice to the book. Hands downs to the author for creating such a powerful story of suffering and overcoming real life issues. 

Alexi is broken, she won't talk about what happened to her. She won't share her nightmare with anyone and is consuming her, slowly breaking her more. Hiding in her closet, the only way she finds to cope with what happened to her is scratching her neck and counting the spaces in the air condition vent. But when outcast boy Bodee, with a terrible story of his own, comes to the picture everything turns upside down. Together they try to find a better way to deal with the tragedies that struck them so early in life. 

I love Alexi, her story is devastating. I felt really bad for the whole situation but at the same time I wanted to make her speak, stand up for herself and talk to someone. What happened to her is not really revealed to the readers until later on the book but you know, you have that nagging feeling. Bodee, I just love him. There is nothing out of this world about him but his presence is calming to me. He is protective and a good friend. 

While I try to stay away from books with issues so strong, I couldn't put this one down. I just wanted to know how everything happened, the who and more important if Alexi was able to overcome her fears and speak up. This story is about friendship and how you could find it when the least you are expecting it. I love that they were able to find the inner peace to put the pieces of their lives back together. 

Overall, the story is really good, strong subject and lots of feels. The plot is well developed, the details, the memories, everything is in place to create a beautiful mess of emotions. I do wish the ending had involve Alexi’s family a little bit more, the whole situation could had been handled differently, with repercussions ( I have to be vague, do not want to give any spoilers). I am glad I gave this book a chance. Grab a copy and read it, you will not be disappointed. 

Courtney C. Stevens

Courtney C. Stevens grew up in Kentucky and lives in Nashville, Tennessee. She is an adjunct professor and a former youth minister. Her other skills include playing hide-and-seek, climbing trees, and being an Olympic torch bearer. Faking Normal is her first novel.


1. Describe Faking Normal in four words.

I can’t. You can.

2. Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published? 

The biggest challenge was figuring out that the realistic contemporary genre was my natural voice. I wanted to write fantasy, because at the time, it was what I read. I love escapism (still do), thrillers, and elements not of this world. Letting go of plotting or have a voice for that type of fiction took time, but once I started writing contemporary, I knew I found myself.

3. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I would love for a reader to walk away from Faking Normal and believe that for whatever they might face in this world, they have copious about of hope and bravery inside them that will change everything if they let them out.

4. Is anything in Faking Normal based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

Faking Normal is fiction, but I've rarely met a person who wasn't hiding something. Whether it’s a rotten day that is hidden with the words, “I’m fine,” or a secret as big as Alexi’s, it would be hard to say that all of it is purely imagination when covering up shame is in the fabric of most our experiences. So yes, I've Faked my share of Normal in life.

5. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in Faking Normal? 

Faking Normal isn’t a perfect book, but no. I wrote it for me. While I’m certainly glad that it has an audience larger than one, I wrote what I needed to hear. When it comes to an artistic field that is full of subjective opinion, I am anchored to the idea that I did the best I could do and then a team of wonderful professionals did they best they can do. That’s enough for me.

(Guest Reviewer ~ Owl Always Be Reading)

1 comment:

  1. I just finished reading this yesterday, and I'm honestly at a loss for words myself. I have no idea how I'm going to review it. It left such an impact on me. And yes, I'm definitely a mess of emotions. Great review and interview! This was such a great book. :)


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