“Finding Audrey” by Sophie Kinsella was so good. It’s her first young adult novel and I was a little apprehensive about it because of that, but I really enjoyed this book. So much so, that I was literally laughing aloud while reading it on the train on my way into work and I devoured it in one day. It was amusing and entertaining, but it also covered a much deeper issue and I think Sophie Kinsella did this well.
When we meet Audrey, she is suffering from an anxiety disorder that surfaced after an unpleasant incident at school. She had a complete breakdown and had to leave school and spend time in the hospital while she got over the worst of it. Now she is staying at home, working on her recovery, which is a very slow process. She cannot be around other people, and she wears dark glasses all the time. “Finding Audrey” is about her trying to pick herself back up again, and while she is doing that she is interacting for the most part only with her immediate family. I really enjoyed Audrey’s family. She has the overprotective mother that takes advice from the articles she reads in the newspaper a little too seriously, “She’s not talking to me. She’s talking to the Imaginary Daily Mail Judge, who constantly watches her life and gives it marks out of ten.” (Finding Audrey, pg 19). Her older brother Frank is moody and always playing video games, and Felix, her 4-year-old brother is just hilarious. ““I will fight the chicken pops with my sword,” he says importantly. “I’m a very strong fighter.”” (Finding Audrey, pg 53). Audrey’s dad is great, he’s supportive and sweet, and frequently living in his own world removed from the conversation.
Besides her family, Audrey goes to see her doctor on a regular basis, which is the only time she ever leaves the house. Her doctor gives her some homework: she asks Audrey to get a video camera and make a movie. Audrey is instructed to be a fly-on-the-wall and just observe for a few days and then to try to work up to interviewing her family, and then try interviewing someone outside of her family. What I found really neat about this was that once she was given this assignment, the book was split up between a narrative and a screenplay, which was a lot of fun.
I liked that Sophie Kinsella had Audrey wearing dark glasses to guard herself from the outside world. Audrey gives a bit of an explanation about the dark glasses, “…if you ask me, most people underestimate eyes. For a start, they’re powerful. They have range. You focus on someone a hundred feet away, through a whole bunch of people, and they know you’re looking at them. What other bit of human anatomy can do that? It’s practically being psychic, is what it is.
But they’re like vortexes too. They’re infinite. You look someone straight in the eye and your whole soul can be sucked out in a nanosecond. That’s what it feels like. Other people’s eyes are limitless and that’s what scares me.” (Finding Audrey, pg 27). I thought this was a pretty powerful and insightful statement.
Would I recommend this book? Definitely – it is something that would be especially enjoyable to the female readers out there, but that doesn’t mean that guys wouldn’t like it too. I almost feel like it would be a good book to share with any parents that find themselves in a similar boat as Audrey’s parents. It’s fictional, sure, but reading about Audrey’s illness from her perspective could help some parents better understand why some things work and other things don’t, and how it is a slow process to get better. I think it is a great book to read for entertainment’s sake, but it could also be used almost as an educational tool for anyone in a situation similar to Audrey’s.