I hate this review because it’s a mess. But please know that I don’t blame the book for it. This book is amazing.
TITLE: Under Rose-Tainted Skies
BY: Louise Gornall
GENRE: Young Adult Contemporary
PUBLICATION: January 3rd 2017 by Clarion Books
This review is long overdue. I really find it difficult to review this and I almost don’t. But I knew I have to because I’m using this for my A to Z Reading Challenge and the books for that challenge need to be reviewed. So here it is.
The reason it’s hard for me to review this because I don’t know what to say. This book tells a story of Norah, a 17-year old girl who is agoraphobic and has OCD and anxiety. This hits home. I picked up this book because of the cover. It’s one of the most gorgeous covers I’ve ever seen but when I read the blurb, I was hesitant. I had to read its reviews and I read people talking about the ending, which seems horrible. And I thought, this will be “All The Bright Places” all over again. So I had to read spoilery review. For some reason, I couldn’t give up on this book. I really wanted to read it but I need to make sure this won’t affect me the way “All The Bright Places” did. Thankfully a one or two reviewers mentioned about that particular scene at the end. It’s not actually the ending, more like a climactic scene and I decided I can get over it. It’s not the same as All The Bright Places so I finally read it.
Getting into Norah’s mind is easy thanks to the author’s writing. I can say that the author knows what she’s writing about. Right from the first chapter, the reader can’t help but symphatize to Norah. Like I ‘get’ her and my heart is breaking. I’ll probably feel the same way even if I don’t have anxiety and OCD. Unfortunately, I have and this is why it was hard for me to review this because I know the review will be like a personal diary.
Three years ago, 2017, that was around the time I started blogging, that was also the year I said is the worst year of my life. For some reason, I didn’t get out of the house for a year. I’m not exaggerating. Anxiety and depression are the worst. That year, I only went out once, it was Christmas season and just an hour to buy a gift for someone. I bought all my gifts online but there’s one that’s not the exact thing I wanted. So I had to have the exact thing. Which leads me to talk about OCD. Just to be clear I’m not diagnosed with it, but I don’t have to to know. First, I’m not stupid and two, I know myself more than anyone so I know if something is wrong with me. I know I have OCD even though it’s only mild. Mild or not, it’s still OCD so please don’t judge me by telling me I might be wrong. Maybe you’re thinking, maybe the things I do are just habits. Like that one former friend of mine who had the audacity to tell me I should change my habits and I have terrible mannerisms. Here’s the thing, a habit is me praying before sleeping at night, a mannerism is me yawning even though I’m not sleepy (Seriously, I’m so weird). I know what habits and mannerisms are. There are things that I do that are not both. AND PLEASE PEOPLE, MENTAL ILLNESS IS NOT A CHOICE, YOU CAN’T JUST TELL ME TO CHANGE IT OR STOP IT. It will be like telling me to sleep with my eyes open. I can’t just simply do it.
Reading this book is like reading about the worst thing that could ever happen to me. It’s like a book of prediction even though I don’t think I will come to this. Like I said, my condition is TOO mild. But it helps me to understand Norah so much that she is so real to me and her experiences and struggles are scary for me. I think the author really did a good job at writing such realistic representation of someone of this condition. Especially the part indicating that Norah knows what she’s doing is irrational, at least as people with no mental health condition is concerned, but she can’t do them. She knows she can but she won’t. So as much as representation goes, this one is really well done.
I also like the fact that the romance in the story didn’t cure the girl. Most of the stories with illnesses, especially mental illnesses, the one with the illness usually gets a little better and learn how to smile and everything whenever they meet someone — that’s not the case here. Here, Norah didn’t forget even once about why she can’t have relationship with Luke, and Luke on the other hand wants to. Luke’s character is also very realistic because it was shown that he doesn’t fully understand Norah’s condition. Unlike in other books where the love interest just magically became an expert because for some reason some authors think it is sweet if the love interest knows what they have to do with the characters with mental illness. That’s not how it works in real life. And I like how the ending showed both the side of Norah and the side of Luke starting to do what they should in order to go forward. On the side note, I love the support Norah is getting from her mother and doctor.
Finally, I couldn’t give this book a perfect 5-star because I think even though the representation of mental health illness is well done and it’s very realistic, still the writing style itself is a bit too young. Another thing is THAT SCENE, the one the reviewers talked about. I’m a little thankful that it’s not as terrible as the thing that happened in “All the Bright Places”, but on the other side, that scene is still terrible. First, it came out of nowhere. Suddenly, this serious book, with cute romance in it is a freaking thriller. And second, to have that scene with Norah, is the worst thing. I know there should be a scene that pushes her to step out but there are so many things that could’ve happened instead of THAT. I seriously wished Norah was just seeing things but I remember, she’s not schizophrenic so I knew it was really happening. I freaking cried and I had to stop reading because I was imagining myself being Norah and I JUST CAN’T.
So yeah, 4 stars.
What do you think of this book? Have you read it, or planning to? Let’s chat.