This book slipped right into my own heart with issues that touch me deeply. It is told with true authenticity from an author who knows exactly what she is writing about. I can’t tell you how much I nodded along and how often it tugged at my heartstrings as I recognised myself in the words I read. I don’t suffer agoraphobia, which is the main point of this book, but I am often trapped in my own head and my own self-harm and mental health issues, and this book understands it all.
Gornall writes with unflinching honesty, pulling you inside Norah’s head and inside her house. Norah is an agoraphobic teen who wants an ordinary life, but her brain won’t allow it. When she sees the new family move in next door, Luke brings more conflict to her troubled mind. The risk he offers is almost more than she can cope with, and her inherent awkwardness and fear threaten to ruin their friendship. First love is often hard enough without figuring in fragile mental health.
I didn’t want this story to become a girl meets boy, boy fixes mental health story, and it didn’t. Gornall’s honesty and grit when writing a romance with Norah’s mental health demonstrates that relationships can help, I mean love and support can work miracles, but showed that the fight towards combating mental health issues require much more than that and is something that is a constant throughout life. There are no romantic fixes and that works.
You will come away from this book appreciating the frustration and debilitation of agoraphobia, panic, anxiety, and much more. But more than anything the author and Norah offer hope, and at the heart of helping mental illness is hope. An important novel that gives real insight, honesty, humour, and hope.