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?
Initial thoughts: I appreciated this book. I wouldn’t say enjoyed, because sometimes this book was difficult to read and it honestly hit home more than I was expecting. Norah’s voice is both unique and authentic, frustrating yet endearing. Norah’s story is achingly honest and I highly recommend it!
Before I talk about this book, I wanted to note that the cover is beautiful! Its simple and yet very symbolic of the subject matter of the story. While I saw this book recommended by a number of bloggers, I was first drawn to it by that gorgeous cover.
I really appreciated this story. Norah was a realistic narrator and I felt like her illness was not glamorized. I could feel how desperately Norah fought against her mind every single day and honestly, at times it was hard to read. I found it fascinating to read through her thought process. Norah understood that her fears were irrational and yet her mind and body constantly rebelled against her. Gornell did an excellent job of including every detail of Norah’s life to make her more realistic from her morbid attitude, guilt over her mother taking care of her, to her obsession with social media to stay connected to the world.
If you’ve read the synopsis, you know that Norah meets a boy named Luke. Luke is the cute boy next door that takes an interest in Norah despite the fact that she will not come out of her house. Do I think Luke’s behavior is realistic of a teenage boy? I don’t know, probably not. He was incredibly understanding and patient for a high school boy, but I found it endearing all the same. What I really did appreciate about Norah and Luke’s relationship is that is never felt forced. While they had some cute moments, many were awkward and fumbling. Norah’s illness constantly prevented her from acting on her feelings. At one point Luke makes a comment to say how exhausting it must be to suffer from her anxiety, and I felt it reading Norah’s story. It was exhausting. And debilitating, And absolutely terrifying.
I also really appreciated how Luke didn’t ‘cure’ Norah. While the story definitely ends on a positive note, Norah still struggles with her illness every single day and that won’t change overnight.
I’m not sure what I was expecting when I picked up this book, but it was a heavier read than I thought it would be. I also related to Norah, and empathized with her on a much deeper level that I anticipated going into the book. This is such an important story to read. I highly recommend that all of you read Norah’s honest, thoughtful story. I hope you enjoy it!