My first thought when I found out that Sophie Kinsella would be publishing her first YA novel? YES PLEASE! I flew through it as soon as I got my hands on a copy! Finding Audrey is a charming story that will pull at your heartstrings one moment, have you laughing out loud the next, and cheering on Audrey the whole way through.
The story focuses on Audrey and her family as she attempts to battle a severe anxiety disorder that has caused her to isolate herself from the rest of the world. Unable to make eye contact with others, Audrey wears sunglasses everywhere she goes, and spends most of her day in her family’s darkened den watching infomercials. Readers discover that Audrey wasn’t always this way. Her anxiety was triggered by a series of traumatic events at her school involving a group of bullying girls. Finding it impossible to socialize with others, Audrey is convinced that any chance of recovery is hopeless.
Enter Linus. When Audrey first meets her older brother’s friend, her initial reaction is to run away and hide. Over time, however, Audrey finds herself opening up to the funny, warm-hearted boy, and begins to make remarkable improvements. As the two become closer, a sweet romantic connection develops that gives Audrey the courage to face her fears in ways that she never thought was possible.
Audrey and Linus’s love story, however, are only one half of the book. In fact, my favourite part of the entire plot was watching the growing conflict between Audrey’s brother Frank and her mother. After reading an article in The Guardian, Audrey’s mother becomes convinced that Frank is a video game addict, and does everything in her power to purge him of his obsession. These scenes were hilarious and brought back memories of my own mother and brother arguing over video games when I was growing up! In fact, some of the episodes in the book were so similar to scenes in our house that it was almost as if Kinsella had been watching us through our windows! I actually ended up loving Frank’s character so much that I almost wish Kinsella could write an entire book just about him!
That isn’t to say that Frank is a show-stealer. In fact, Audrey is a fantastic character in her own right! When it comes to characters I’ve always had a bit of a love/hate relationship with Kinsella. On the one hand I find her books hilarious, entertaining, and impossible to put down, but on the other hand I always feel like strangling her main female protagonist. From Becky Bloomwood in the Shopoholic series, to Emma in Can You Keep A Secret, her female characters always seem to be too self-destructive! Audrey, however, is lovable the whole way through! She was far from self-destructive, and I loved watching her small improvements throughout the course of the story.
As much as I LOVED Finding Audrey, there was one aspect of the novel that unfortunately prevented me from giving it a full five star review: the love plot. Don’t get me wrong, Audrey and Linus are adorable together, but the development of their romance just felt completely unrealistic to me. It was almost like Linus’s affections came out of nowhere. There are a few hints in the story that Linus may have been interested in Audrey before her anxiety disorder took over, but it still felt too much like insta-love for my taste.
Despite the flaws in the love plot Finding Audrey is a fantastic read that I would highly recommend! The writing is humorous and compelling, the characters are loveable, and the book is impossible to put down! This will definitely be one of the hottest YA books this summer season!