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‘Finding Audrey,’ a touching quick read

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For anyone who made it their New Year’s Resolution to read more books, Sophie Kinsella’s ‘Finding Audrey’ is for you. The novel is easy to read (since it’s probably been a while), and as heartbreaking as it is encouraging.

Audrey wears dark glasses all the time, even in her house. Around her family and friends, she’s funny and outgoing. However, Audrey suffers from debilitating panic and anxiety attacks. Her backstory is cloudy, but she was bullied by girls at her school until she dropped out, leaving her living at home, her only safe space.

But then Audrey meets Linus, her brother’s friend, and begins to make bigger steps towards recovery. She makes it to Starbucks, and Linus slowly guides her out of her shell. It isn’t a love story, however. Audrey must choose to fight her fears each time Linus invites her out.

Sophie Kinsella’s writing is witty and readable, and her characters are expertly crafted. Not one moment in the book is insignificant.

The members of Audrey’s family each play a unique role in her life as the family takes steps forward together. She has a Daily-Mail-loving mom, hard-working dad and two siblings, one a computer game lover, and the 4-year-old who is the only person Audrey can look in the eye.

The book starts pretty fast, as her mother throws Audrey’s brother’s computer out the window. Audrey also reunites with an old friend who doesn’t quite understand how mental illnesses work, confronts a bully, dates a boy, gets lost in a park, and plays one crazy video game.

Oh, also? British accents.

photos courtesy of finding briar.com

The most important part of the book is what goes on in Audrey’s head. She doesn’t view situations the same way as a “normal” person. She calls her anxiety her ‘lizard brain’ because it’s an inherent hide/run signal. For instance, Linus invites her to Starbucks, and she has to calm herself down about nothing the whole time she’s walking there. Then, they’re talking, and things get uncomfortable for Audrey.

“I’m starting to panic. My chest is rising and falling. I can’t stay. I can’t do this. Dr. Sarah’s wrong. I’m never going to get better. Look, I can’t even sit in Starbucks, I’m a total failure. And now darker thoughts are circling my head, dragging me down,” Audrey thinks.

The story is partially narrated through Audrey’s video camera, a suggestion from her counselor, Dr. Sarah., who tries to keep Audrey on track and cautions her, two steps up, one step down.

Because often, that’s what it feels like to live with a mental illness. Audrey must climb a mountain just to reach Starbucks.

So, if you’re lucky enough to be able to, grab yourself a warm drink and get ready for a moving, refreshing read.

 

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