Faking Normal

Faking Normal

4.4 21
by Courtney C. Stevens, Emma Galvin

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Alexi Littrell hasn't told anyone what happened to her over the summer. Ashamed and embarrassed, she hides in her closet and compulsively scratches the back of her neck, trying to make the outside hurt more than the inside does.

At school, nobody sees the scratches or her pain. The only person she connects with is the mysterious Captain Lyric, who writes song

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Alexi Littrell hasn't told anyone what happened to her over the summer. Ashamed and embarrassed, she hides in her closet and compulsively scratches the back of her neck, trying to make the outside hurt more than the inside does.

At school, nobody sees the scratches or her pain. The only person she connects with is the mysterious Captain Lyric, who writes song lyrics on her fourth-period desk for her to complete. With pencil marks and music, Alexi carves out a comfortable space for herself as she and the Captain finish each other's songs—words on a desk feel safer than words spoken aloud.

But when Bodee Lennox, the quiet and awkward boy next door, comes to live with the Littrells, Alexi discovers an unlikely friend who understands her better than anyone. He has secrets of his own and knows all about suffering in silence. As they lean on each other for support, Alexi gives him the strength to deal with his past, and Bodee helps her find the courage to finally speak up.

With her powerful, moving debut novel, author Courtney C. Stevens emerges as an extraordinary new talent to watch.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Somewhere between Sarah Dessen and Laurie Halse Anderson lies Stevens’s rich debut about two adolescents grappling with extraordinary trauma. Alexi Littrell has two close friends, dates football players, and has a family that her older sister’s fiancé describes as “the best family in the world.” But she is carrying a secret about something that happened to her over the summer and is self-harming to mute the pain. Her classmate Bodee’s Kool-Aid dyed hair and quiet demeanor already set him apart from peers, but after his father kills his mother, he becomes even more of an object of pity and curiosity. When Alexi’s parents invite Bodee to live with them, the pair become friends, with Alexi helping Bodee release his guilt over his mother’s death and Bodee encouraging Alexi to speak out about what happened to her. Though the busy plot sometimes swallows Alexi herself, the mood is intense and the story moves briskly, complete with an ending so surprising that some readers may flip back to the beginning to start fresh. Ages 14–up. Agent: Kelly Sonnack, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Feb.)
Ruta Sepetys
“A beautiful reminder that amidst our broken pieces we can truly find ourselves.”
Children's Literature - Justina Engebretson
Alexi Littrell is discovering how hard it is to pretend that life is normal when nothing will ever be the same again, and she cannot tell anyone why. She wishes she could forgot about summer and what happened in her own backyard, but even her compulsive scratching cannot tear it from her memory. Then there is Bodee Lennox, better known as the Kool-Aid Kid; he was always an outcast before, and now he is the boy whose father murdered his mother. As fate would have it, Bodee comes to live with the Littrells, and an unusual friendship develops between these two teens who are both battling their own demons and pain. Can these two hurting souls help each other face the pain of their past to brave their futures? Put simply, this young adult novel is brutally honest, concealing little of pain and revealing much about life and people. The two main characters are as complex as the circumstances surrounding their teenage lives. Their relationship is the beacon of light in a rather dark plot; it is the one thing that really stands out as innocent and good where so much hurt and pain exists. Music is a healing instrument in Alexi’s life, and many teens will appreciate and relate to this. Parents should be cautioned about the moderate to heavy amount of profanity and sexual references and topics, as well as the presence of drinking and compulsive, destructive behaviors. Descriptions are suggestive but not graphic. Overall, this book is well written and unique, with a heavy plot that is most likely not appropriate for younger teens. Reviewer: Justina Engebretson; Ages 14 up.
Voya Reviews, April 2014 (Vol. 36, No. 1) - Jamie Hansen
Sixteen-year-old Alexi Littrell has a secret. Consumed by guilt and shame, she decides her loving parents and supportive big sister can never know what happened to her at the backyard pool over the summer. While she fakes being normal at school and home, Alexi develops a series of bizarre coping mechanisms and even resorts to self-harm. Only when her shy, clumsy neighbor, Bodee Lennox, in the midst of his own family crisis, comes to live with the Littrell family does Alexi find someone in whom she can confide. By helping Alexi cope with her pain, Bodee finds the strength to move past the murder of his mother. In the emotional climax, Alexi confronts the person who assaulted her and begins to heal her broken life. Debut novelist Stevens has written a powerful and fast-paced first-person story of a young woman who finds an inner strength she never knew she possessed. Further editing to moderate some overwritten passages could have rendered the novel’s message even more effective. Omitting some extraneous and repetitive narrative threads—like the dating woes of Alexi’s girlfriends and the many scenes set in the AP psychology class—would have helped tighten the plot. Although clearly intended as a work of bibliotherapy, Faking Normal deserves a place in most libraries serving young adults. Reviewer: Jamie Hansen; Ages 12 to 18.
Kirkus Reviews
Reminiscent of Melinda in Speak, Alexi tries to find her voice after being raped. Only the self-inflicted scratches on the 16-year-old's neck reveal any sign that someone close to her coerced her into having sex at a football party. Now Alexi is "faking normal" to protect the perpetrator and try to keep the event in the past. But socially awkward Bodee, aka "Kool-Aid Kid" for his penchant for temporary hair coloring, knows she has a secret—because he has one too. After his abusive father kills his mother, he's invited to finish the school year at Alexi's home. As a tentative friendship blossoms, Alexi and Bodee become allies—and more—as they help each other deal with their life-changing traumas and face recovery together. Stevens' debut effort keeps it real and never preachy as Alexi and her BFFs question their sexuality and relationship expectations. Even more realistic are Alexi's reactions to the rape as she wonders why she couldn't utter the word no, whether a rape actually occurred and how her family will react. The perpetrator's identity, confounded by plenty of red herrings, remains a mystery until the very end. Also adding mystery and romantic intrigue is the clandestine "Captain Lyric," who corresponds and seems to acknowledge Alexi's pain through covert song lyrics left on a school desk. A story that resonates. (author's note) (Fiction. 14 & up)

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Product Details

Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

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