“Everyone’s on the cliff edge of normal. Everyone finds life an utter nightmare sometimes, and there’s no ‘normal’ way of dealing with it.” Sarah sighed. “There is no normal, Evelyn. There’s only what’s normal to you. You’re chasing a ghost.”
This book, and I’m not going to hold back here, is fantastic. The quote sums up what the book is about – a girl with extreme OCD and Anxiety Disorder who is trying, after a period of time where she has been sectioned in a psychiatric hospital, to fit back in to ‘normal’ life. Evelyn is 16 and has missed a couple of years of school (and her life). She obsessively touches things, thinks that everything has germs on it and will kill her and cannot develop relationships for fear of touching. She is struggling to come off her medication and is seeing a councillor (Sarah) every week to talk about her issues. She has also just started college, made new friends and desperately wants to meet a boy and fall in love – she thinks that this is the key that will bring her back to reality. she is also an obsessive movie watcher as she was unable to leave the house for fear of being attacked by germs in the air.
Sprinkled in with this is her friend Jane – the only one who truly knows what is going on with her mental health. Jane has just met and fallen in love with Joel, the drummer in a band and dropped Evie like a hot potato. She then makes two new friends – Amber and Lottie, who quickly become her besties. The thing is, she doesn’t want to tell them what she had been through and so keeps it from them. Evie is trying to be normal in a strange world but what she doesn’t realise is, we all are. Like Sarah says, she is chasing a ghost.
The way that Bourne talks about Feminism is also really interesting. Her observations about how women can denigrate themselves to keep a man are really interesting. My friend suddenly developed an unhealthy obsession with cricket when she met her boyfriend for example! Jane is the obvious example of this; dying her hair, getting piercings, changing her style because she thinks her boyfriend will like her better – but who did he fall in love with in the first place?
It is an empowering book. It reminded me about all the strong feelings I had when I was that age. The desperate need to fit in, talk about the right things and behave in the right way. But it also reminded me what wonderful friends I had (and still have 20 years later) who supported me as I supported them. And how much I thought I should be doing something to fit in, when really everybody was the same as me. We are all struggling with something and don’t think because you don’t know what it is that it isn’t there.
Be kind, it’s a hard old world out there and we are all struggling to make it. What this book tells us is that there is always people out there who are just the same as you. It is an emotional journey but an enlightening one. It will teach you that OCD is a scary disease and there is no cure, just ways of coping.
My only slight moan is that the portrayal of men isn’t very positive. Especially teenage boys! There are some nice ones out there, they are not all obsessed with sex and drugs and alcohol! I know there is huge dollop of feminism but by doing that she has a bit of a bash at men, which isn’t really fair!
Look out for Rose’s observation about Jane at the end of the book – it’s spot on and sums up what we are all about.
‘Why fit in when you were born to stand out? – Dr. Seuss
‘Abnormality is more normal than normality, therefore abnormality is normal’ – my best friend Lucy!