*Please note: I received this book gratis in order to provide a review. This review is my honest opinion and is unaffected by the receipt of this for free.*
Around the age of 13, Norah developed OCD and agoraphobia. For the following four years, she has spent every moment, barring exceptional circumstances and therapist appointments, in the confines of her house. When Norah’s mother has to leave for a conference she finds herself in sticky position. Her groceries ha ve been left on the front porch, past the threshold of her door. When she’s unable to come up with a way of getting to them her new neighbour, Luke offers to help. He keeps coming back and soon they’re becoming friends and discovering more about each other. Norah discovers the difficulty that comes hand in hand with wanting to be around someone, who she has the inclination to touch, but the terror of actually possibly touching.
Before having a chance to read URTS, I added it to my recent Mental Health reads suggestion post and I can retrospectively say that this book deserves it’s spot in that list and on people’s bookshelves.
Let me start by saying that though this book combines the themes of romance and mental health, it by no means follows any delusions of love instantly fixing everything.
This is an important book because it describes so very deeply the thoughts and feelings of someone who is struggling with mental illness. Louise Gornall has given life to the romance genre in a way that not many YA books I’ve read have been able to do. Norah is in many ways just like every other teenage girl; fretting over text messages, what to wear, bitchy popular girls. However, she is also studious and would love to study in France, though she self-aware that she may well never get the chance.
Gornall demonstrates very clearly that mental illness does not have an on and off switch. Yes, there are good days and bad days but elements of her OCD are constantly playing on Norah’s mind. This can range from an uncontrollable need to stack things just so, or the fear of what bacteria might be on the bottom of someone’s shoes as the walk through the door. Louise’s depiction of Norah’s stream of consciousness resonates a certain level of authenticity, relating to Louise’s own experience. This adds another level of complexity and emotion to Norah’s story that I believe makes it truthful, iconic and important for others to read.
The love interest – Luke – is another point of intrigue. He’s very open and concerned about Norah. He tries to understand what she’s going through and naturally he makes mistakes. Their relationship shows that you can’t instantly understand a person’s thoughts and fears but you have to grow to understanding their limitations. At first Luke does this in a brilliant way. He helps Norah to explore the possibility of something outside her current thinking, but he gives her the power to choose to do so. It is when he takes that power away that everything is thrown into contention. Luke’s family have an equally complex arrangement that gives him a broader understanding than Norah’s previous friends and could explain his original intrigue that lead him to want to know Norah better.
This is a must-read book on mental health, that will clench your heart and take you on an emotional rollercoaster.