Alexi Littrell hasn’t told anyone what happened to her over the summer by her backyard pool. Instead, she hides in her closet, counts the slats in the air vent, and compulsively scratches the back of her neck, trying to make the outside hurt more than the inside does—and deal with the trauma.
When Bodee Lennox—“the Kool-Aid Kid”—moves in with the Littrells after a family tragedy, Alexi discovers an unlikely friend in this quiet, awkward boy who has secrets of his own. As their friendship grows, Alexi gives him the strength to deal with his past, and Bodee helps her summon the courage to find her voice and speak up about the rape that has changed the course of her life.
Find Your Brave
When I met Courtney Stevens at SEYA Fest this year, she signed a note for me that said, “channel your brave.” It hangs front and center above my computer monitor. I like a lot of the authors I’ve met at SEYA, but I was blown away by Courtney’s openness and compassion. So of course I had to try her books.
Faking Normal is, to me, very much a book about finding bravery. Alexi and Bodee come to terms with their pain in different ways, but it’s beautiful to watch them discover and support each other. If I had to pinpoint one thing Courtney excelled at in this book, it’s the relationships. Alexi’s friends and family are all multi-faceted and believable.
I don’t have any experience to speak to Alexi’s trauma, but I very much sympathize with the concept of “faking normal.” Absorbing Alexi’s journey through that type of invisibility opened up old wounds. I fear that many teenagers struggling with their own pain will find that they don’t have a Bodee Lennox. But hopefully the messages of bravery and healing are powerful through the page as they are in person.
Faking Normal is an honest, heartfelt read. Proceed with caution if you have reason to believe that the themes might be triggering. And I hope you find ways to channel your brave.
[It feels especially important that more readers find Courtney’s books. If you want to help with that, post reviews of any of her books to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads. If you share them with #Reviews3030 or email me (ytbellereads AT gmail.com), you’ll be entered to win a preorder of your choice! Entries end 7/6/17.]