Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise GornallPublished by Clarion Books on January 3rd 2017
ARC from Edelweiss
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?
So I’ve had this on my Kindle for a LONG time now but for whatever reason, I haven’t picked it up. I’ve seen a lot of positive reviews about it, which led me to finally pick it up after watching one of Emma Books’s video where she called it one of her favorite contemporaries of all time. Though it touches on a tough subject, this book is surprisingly light and even funny at times. I really enjoyed this one and recommend picking it up!
As you may or may not know, Under Rose-Tainted Skies tackles mental illness. Norah has agoraphobia, which I’ve never seen a character have in a book before. I was a little nervous about this because a lot of media portrays the illness as almost being a joke. Like in the show Shameless, I felt like they didn’t take it all that seriously and made fun of the character who had it. However, the author handles Norah’s agoraphobia in an extremely sensitive and informative manner. In addition to agoraphobia, she also has OCD and anxiety. If you’re a reader who is interested in reading about mental illnesses that isn’t traditionally represented, I think you’ll be pleased with this one. I know that some readers often believe that stories with mental illness are heavy and draining, but this one was very fast paced and easy to get through. Basically, what you can take away from this long rant is that Norah is a lovely and well written character who happens to have multiple mental illnesses that are very well researched.
And my new book boyfriend of the moment goes to Luke, who is everything that I look for in a fictional love interest. Seriously, this kid is pretty perfect for a teenage boy, or for any man for that matter. What makes Luke so freaking swoonworthy? Well I’m glad that you asked! He’s funny, sensitive, caring, and just an all around understanding sort of guy. Norah had her insecurities about whether or not she was the right girl for Luke since she couldn’t go outside. But Luke seems to love just hanging out with Norah and watching movies together. He never resents her, and instead truly understands that this is something that is out of her hands. He cares about Norah for who she is and he genuinely enjoys spending time with her. Can I please have my own Luke? Except obviously he needs to be a little bit earlier haha!
Though there aren’t a ton of characters in Under Rose-Tainted Skies, the ones that are present are memorable. As I already said, I thought Norah was a wonderful character. She was quirky and funny. Norah’s mom is also so awesome and loving. She knows exactly what her daughter needs when she needs it. It’s always refreshing to see a good mother in YA books, and she’s certainly that. Additionally, she has a therapist who is somewhat memorable. She’s not a huge part of the plot, but I still thought that the author handled that side of the story with care. Like I said, that’s really all the characters that play a fairly big role in the overall plot.
Under Rose-Tainted Skies was a beautiful story that just happened to be about a girl who has mental illnesses. As I said earlier, if you’re a fan of books that discuss mental illnesses that aren’t always brought up, this might be for you. I learned a lot more about agoraphobia, and I hope that more books in the future will be written about it. I think the best part about it was that it seemed realistic. It seems like a lot of YA books on mental illness sometimes fall into the trap that love will save you or something along those lines, but this isn’t one of those books. Norah still has her daily struggles with these three separate mental illnesses. I don’t think that I loved this book as much as a lot of other readers seem to, but I still found it to be enjoyable as a whole.
Since this book has been out for awhile now, have any of you guys read it? Does it sound like something you’d want to read? What are some of your favorite books that feature mental illnesses? Let’s talk about it!