At seventeen, Norah has accepted that the four walls of her house delineate her life. She knows that fearing everything from inland tsunamis to odd numbers is irrational, but her mind insists the world outside is too big, too dangerous. So she stays safe inside, watching others’ lives through her windows and social media feed.
But when Luke arrives on her doorstep, he doesn’t see a girl defined by medical terms and mental health. Instead, he sees a girl who is funny, smart, and brave. And Norah likes what he sees.
Their friendship turns deeper, but Norah knows Luke deserves a normal girl. One who can walk beneath the open sky. One who is unafraid of kissing. One who isn’t so screwed up. Can she let him go for his own good—or can Norah learn to see herself through Luke’s eyes?
This was first recced to me as a book similar to Everything, Everything but it doesn’t make everything better and the disability doesn’t vanish under the power of true love. I couldn’t put this book down for I wanted to know what was going on, not only with Norah but with Luke as well. The temptation with stories like this is that the guy becomes a bit Manic Pixie Dream Boy so he doesn’t really have a life of his own, he’s only there to ‘save’ the girl. Not so in this book!
Luke was his own person. With a past that wasn’t ridiculously tragic, he’s easygoing and awkward and you could see why he was interested in Norah. It would be very easy for it to be Luke is just interested in Norah for plot reasons, but you understood why he liked Norah and you saw why Norah liked him. Their relationship was built up really nicely and even when Luke messed up and Norah overreacted, you saw them understand what both of them had done wrong. Luke went over the boundaries that Norah had set and Norah completely shut him out after that, despite the fact she didn’t want to. I really liked how that was handled because Luke isn’t shown as right for doing what he did but he’s also not shown as a terrible person, just human. The supporting characters like Norah’s mum, Luke’s mum and Amy were all done really nicely (though I wish Amy had gotten more characterisation than ‘mean girl’).
I really liked the plot. I don’t want to talk about it too much here because I was completely surprised by the plot twist and would want people who are going to read this to be that surprised as well, but I loved how it wasn’t ‘boy comes along and fixes girl’s mental health problems’. It was far more about Norah deciding to do it herself and struggling the whole way, but she decided that it was an acceptable risk (a big thing for her) and I really appreciated that little epilogue.
This book is an #ownvoices book and I really appreciated that so I knew there was a far greater chance the representation would be handled well. I read this for the Mental Health Readathon as well.
Five stars and I would definitely recommend it!