Under Rose-Tainted Skies

Under Rose-Tainted Skies

by Louise Gornall


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Norah has agoraphobia and OCD. When groceries are left on the porch, she can’t step out to get them. Struggling to snag the bags with a stick, she meets Luke. He’s sweet and funny, and he just caught her fishing for groceries. Because of course he did. 
     Norah can’t leave the house, but can she let someone in? As their friendship grows deeper, Norah realizes Luke deserves a normal girl. One who can lie on the front lawn and look up at the stars. One who isn’t so screwed up.
     Readers themselves will fall in love with Norah in this poignant, humorous, and deeply engaging portrait of a teen struggling to find the strength to face her demons.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781328742049
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 01/09/2018
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 60,579
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

A junk food enthusiast, film nerd, and rumored pink Power Ranger, Louise Gornall writes about her own experiences to help encourage and facilitate conversations with other people also facing challenges with mental illness. She lives in England. Visit her website at www.bookishblurb.com, and follow her on Twitter at @Rock_andor_Roll.

Read an Excerpt


I’m going to kill the damn blackbird sitting on my windowsill, chirping and squeaking at the top of its lungs. It hops back and forth, wings spread and flapping, but has zero intention of taking off.
     The point is, it can fly away whenever it wants. And it knows it can. It stops chirping, turns its tiny head, and looks at me. Smiling for sure.
     Smug bastard.
     I pick up my pillow and lob it at the window. It crashes against the glass then plops onto my window ledge, catching a pile of books as it dies a deflated death on my bedroom floor.
     The blackbird is unperturbed, but it pales into insignificance as my eyes home in on my copy of The Picture of Dorian Gray. Its corner is now ever so slightly out of line with the books beneath it.
     It’s the Reader’s Choice edition. Two hundred and twenty-eight pages exactly. Just like the five books under it. To the left is another pile of six books. They all have two hundred and seventy-two pages. The book on top of that pile is Pride and Prejudice, the Dover Thrift edition.
     “Norah,” Mom bellows up the stairs. “If you don’t get your butt down here in the next ten seconds, I’m canceling the Internet service.” I’ve been testing her patience for the last twenty minutes.
     “I still have a stomachache,” I call back. There’s a pause, and I think maybe she’s giving up on the idea of making me go outside.
     “I don’t care if you have the bubonic plague.” Pause. Inhale courage. Exhale guilt. “If you’re not down these stairs in the next eight seconds, you can kiss your Internet connection goodbye.” Her voice cracks, but wow, she’s really taking this whole “tough love” approach seriously. I don’t think she’s an enabler, but ever since she watched Doctor Motivator and his know-nothing special on mental health, she’s been grappling with her conscience.
     I surrender.
     To her, at least. I look back at the books, see a crumbling tower, a broken wall. Dr. Reeves is in my head, telling me to test myself, telling me to leave the discombobulated book as it is and observe how the world does not collapse around me.
     I huff a breath, climb off the bed, pick up my pillow, and place it back where it belongs. It’s one of four. They all sit angled, diamond shapes, on top of my military-smooth bed sheets.
     Neck hot, fingers tapping thighs, six beats each, I leave the room.
     But before I hit the stairs, that tiny corner, no longer in line with the other five books, is consuming me. Like that song you heard but can’t quite remember the name of. Or that actor you’ve seen in another film but can’t for the life of you recall which one. The thought is a fungus, a black mold rotting my brain. I ache. My teeth itch.
     I stand at the top of the stairs, close my eyes, and try to make my mind go blank.
     Don’t go back. Don’t go back. You don’t need to go back. Clear your mind.
     Here’s the thing. The blankness in my mind turns into a piece of white paper, the white paper reminds me of books, and then I’m thinking about The Picture of Dorian Gray again. Fuck.
     I march back to my room, push the book to its rightful position, and then hate myself.
     The blackbird catches my eye. It hasn’t budged. Bet it knew I would be back. I slam my fist into the window and shout, “Boo!” It shrieks and takes to the skies. I smile. Throw it a sarcastic five-fingered sayonara wave. It’s a small but satisfying victory.
     Then I see a boy through my window. He’s stopped halfway up the garden path and is looking at me like I’ve lost my mind. He’s carrying a box labeled Bedroom. I take note of bulging biceps testing the durability of his shirtsleeves.
     New neighbors.
     Why has he stopped? Am I supposed to smile? Wave? Throw him a thumbs-up? I feel like an idiot.
     It’s awkward; we’re both just staring at each other until a woman in a floaty summer dress sails outside. He’s distracted, so I slip away.
     Like a giant in cast-iron shoes, I make my way down the stairs. Eleven steps, so I have to take the last one twice. I have this thing about even numbers.
     You don’t have to take the last one twice, Dr. Reeves would say.
     But I do, I’d tell her. Then she’d ask me why, and I would say, as I always do, Because that’s the way my mind works.

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Under Rose-Tainted Skies 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
TheReadingDemigod More than 1 year ago
Norah suffers from OCD, anxiety, and panic attacks. She won’t leave her house or touch anybody besides her mother and her therapist. The experiences our main character goes through are incredibly realistic and it is easy to tell that the author herself has experienced similar things. The first half of this book was, unfortunately, very boring for me, and I debated whether or not I wanted to keep reading. I felt like everything was dragged out and nothing really happened to carry Norah’s story forward. However, the second half is what made me really glad I pushed through and got to learn more about Norah and how she overcomes her fears and mental illness. Louise Gornall’s writing is beautiful, and I really appreciate the way she describes mental illness. Norah’s panic attacks in particular felt so realistic to me. Some of my favorite parts, though, are the discussions of invisible illnesses and how they are just as real as any other physical illness. You cannot tell just from looking at a person that they suffer from anxiety or depression, so it can be difficult for an outsider to grasp the restrictions these illnesses can place on somebody’s life. I also can appreciate that Luke (what a sweetheart!) did not need to learn these truths from scratch. He already had a basic understanding of mental illness and never made fun of Norah or questioned her thoughts or actions. I would definitely like to read more from Louise Gornall. I love the way she writes such real characters with real experiences in such a beautiful way.
AReadingRedSox More than 1 year ago
I had heard a lot of great things about this one, and I was so excited to start reading. I was no disappointed! Gornall weaves a story that is thoughtful, lovely, and triumphant. I loved the main character, Norah, and watching her cope with everything that was happening from her. A great novel about mental illness and first love. Trigger warning for self-harm. Check out more great book reviews on my blog, A Reading Red Sox, here: http://areadingredsox.blogspot.com/
The-Broke-Book-Bank More than 1 year ago
I first heard about this book through Twitter. I quickly followed Louise Gornall and love how she brightens up my TL. If you can’t read this book, for whatever reason, following her is still a great idea, IMHO. Trigger Warning: Self-harm, Panic Attacks, Violence, I don't have agoraphobia, just an aversion to people as an introvert and a lack of ability to go out due to depression that up until a year ago was untreated. My lowest point was a stretch of 4 years where I could hardly get out of bed, let alone work and function. This however is nothing like what Nora is going through. Agoraphobia is wildly different and is vividly described. The abundance of metaphors and detailed style might be a turnoff for some. The Mental Health Rep: Brilliant. Accurate. As a former cutter, those scenes were on point and shows a side not many see or show. Love the positive therapy portrayal and the therapist being so understanding, helpful, and accommodating, It’s an ongoing process. No miracle or savior. Just her working her ass off, taking care of herself, and slowly progressing. Love how the internet and social media were incorporated. The Romance: She isn't saved by a guy or "fixed". She makes strides and progress on her own. She has a supportive mother and a therapist. She is medication resistant for common, understandable reasons. To be honest, the romance could be removed and she'd still improve. The ending would be the same. It wouldn't be as sweet and swoony and adorable, but including that doesn't lessen her accomplishments. It doesn't make her less impressive for having a support system. It'd horrendous having to do it on your own and the odds of success drastically reduced. I am glad it was included because it shows how important talking, and consent is. It shows how it should be done: depending on someone’s boundaries. Nora is touch averse, but a romantic and has dreams. However, if you’re looking for touch-averse representation beware because Norah constantly puts herself down as a “freak” and wanting to be “normal”.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the most honest, realistic portrayal of mental illness I have ever read and I wish I could articulate what that means to me, and how grateful I am it exists.
MLStoughton More than 1 year ago
I love Norah. She has a warm heart and great sense of humor. What she goes through, not just daily, but on a minute-to-minute basis seems exhausting. As the mother of a child who has gone through her own debilitating issues, I completely agreed with what Norah's mother said it was like to watch her child struggle. Luke is absolutely swoon worthy! The way he interacts with Norah is heartwarming and a few of the touching moments between them made me tear up. "U OK?" was one in particular. I can't wait to see more from this author.
NicoS More than 1 year ago
Norah is a teenager who suffers from Agoraphobia and OCD. But since she didn’t develop these illnesses until she was a little older, she still remembers what it was like to be “normal”. Aside from the occasional required outing, Norah feels pretty safe in the cocoon she has built around herself and doesn’t see any need to change it. That is, until she meets Luke. He plants a desire in her to be normal that is so strong, she almost starts to believe it’s possible. Can she conquer the illnesses that have imprisoned her for years? Or will she just have to accept the fact that she can’t change the way things are? This was a really, REALLY good book. Aside from a little bit of language, which really wasn’t necessary, in my opinion, this was SUCH an engaging story. I was completely fascinated with Norah and with the way her brain works. It was so interesting to see her inner dialogue and just how she perceived things and her fears and phobias. The relationship she had with her mom was beautiful as well. And when Luke comes into the picture, things really start to get interesting! Not only is this book an extremely interesting read, it’s super funny as well. The author has a great sense of humor and Norah was such an endearing character. I was so surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. I really, really enjoyed it and I think you will too. I highly recommend it. (I received an ARC of this book, however, I volunteered to write a review. All of the above opinions are entirely my own.)
Arys More than 1 year ago
Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall is a moving, at times heart-breaking, and utterly well-written YA contemporary novel that had me from the start. The story is about Norah Dean who has agoraphobia and OCD. One day, after a not so helpful delivery man leaves the groceries outside forcing Norah to struggle with how to bring them inside, she receives unexpected help from her new neighbor, Luke. What was an awkward moment, opens the door so to speak, for a budding friendship and maybe new relationship with Luke, if she can find a way to let him in. I really enjoyed this novel. Ms. Gornell has created a very character-driven story that feels real, honest, and pulls at your emotions as you read about Norah's struggles to try to have someone new in her life and to keep them in her life as she continues to struggle with the everyday fears, frustrations, and limitations that she has to deal with. There were moments within the novel that brought about tears because I felt strongly for Norah and Ms. Gornell's words echoed for me. ...I could see all the broken parts of me. Why can’t I be normal? Why can’t I think the way normal people do? I so desperately would have liked to have him as a friend. “How can I expect people to empathize with a sickness they can’t see?” Besides the feelings this novel evoked, I also liked Norah's relationship with her mom and the friendship/romance with Luke. I am a big fan of romance within stories, but I'm glad this romance didn't eclipse the true story which was of Norah herself. Instead, it added and helped move her along her pathway. Overall, Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall was a wonderful novel that I very much recommend. I look forward to reading more by Ms. Gornell. (I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book I received from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my fair and honest review.)
Xkoqueen More than 1 year ago
Under Rose-Tainted Skies is Louise Gornall’s debut novel. It is an excruciatingly detailed look into the head of a teenage girl who suffers from agoraphobia and OCD. By excruciating, I mean that Norah’s mental health issues are painful to experience along with her. Ms. Gornall has given her readers a clear picture of the extent of Norah’s debilitating mental state by using her as the sole narrator of the story. Luke, the handsome new neighbor, is not your average 17 year-old boy. He is independent and self-reliant. His absentee parents have forced him to be more mature than his peers. Whether realistic or not, I adored his sensitivity and the patience he shows Norah. However, I frequently found his dialogue to be unrealistic for a boy his age. “You don’t seem impressed by my outdated idioms.” –Luke Norah and Luke’s relationship develops organically. It has to because of Norah’s limits. I loved that hormonal stirrings over the new hottie next door doesn’t instantly heal all that ails Norah. Instead, Norah’s interest in Luke, and to a large extent his interest in her, is the impetus for Norah to consider pushing her limits. A very frightening event at the story’s culmination, along with her relationship with Luke, pushes Norah to consider forms of treatment that she previously refused. “Your mind adapts to what worse is. Suddenly, that thing that seemed so terrifying at first is dwarfed by the next challenge that comes your way. But you adapt again, and again, and again, until you find yourself fearless.” --Audrey Clarke Ms. Gornall has drawn upon personal experiences to present a very realistic, sympathetic and respectful story about a young adult dealing with mental health issues and exploring the idea of a romantic relationship.
Caroles_Random_Life More than 1 year ago
I thought that this book was very well done. It wasn't a feel good novel and it could be almost hard to read at times. It really felt like an honest book and that is what I really liked about it. It can be really hard to imagine the reality of living with mental illness as Norah does in this story but this book does a nice job of giving the reader something to think about. This was definitely a book worth reading. Norah is a teenage girl that spends a lot of her life in fear. She has OCD and agoraphobia and her life is very different than most other teenagers. She stays in her house and the only person that she really spends any time with is her mother. When Luke, the new next door neighbor, helps her get the groceries in her house, she really isn't quite sure what to do with him. Luke starts spending time with Norah at her house and they develop a very close relationship but Norah fears that she is keeping him from doing things. This book is told from Norah's point of view. We get to see inside of Norah's head and know exactly what she is thinking and it could be hard at times. Simple things could end up being really hard for her which is incredibly frustrating to her. She wants many of the things that other teens want but she doesn't know how to overcome her crippling anxiety and fear in order to allow it to become a possibility. I thought that Norah's inner dialogue were some of the most powerful moments in the book. I would recommend this books to others. It was an honest look at mental illness that really was eye opening at times. This book could be hard to read at times simply because of how realistic it felt. I thought that this was a strong debut novel for Louis Gornall and look forward to reading her future works. I received an advance reader edition of this book from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group via NetGalley.
book_junkee More than 1 year ago
I was intrigued at the premise of this and quite eager to read it. I really liked Norah. She's struggling so hard with her illness and it was captivating being in her head. The relationship with her mom was fantastic. I enjoyed their banter and her mom's absolute devotion and support. Of course Luke is adorable. I loved seeing their relationship grow. I wasn't sure what to expect when the MC is agoraphobic, but the plot was realistic and quite engaging. There are sweet swoons and laughs and heartbreak. Above all else, I was rooting for Norah from page one. Overall, a quick read with a hopeful ending. **Huge thanks to Clarion Books and Edelweiss for providing the arc free of charge**
onemused More than 1 year ago
"Under Rose-Tainted Skies" is an incredible book about mental illness, healing and familial love. Norah lives with her mother and suffers from her agoraphobia and OCD. She sees a therapist regularly, and though she has already made progress before the book begins, she still has difficulty throughout her day and life. Her mother is her primary source of support and stability. Norah's. life changes dramatically when her mother's work trip becomes a hospital stay and the boy next door begins teaching out- and throws a party. The boy next door, Luke, becomes the focus of many of Norah's thoughts as she gets to know him more and he finds ways to communicate with her that she can tolerate. By the end of the book, we can really see the progress Norah has made from the beginning of the book. Although slow, this progress did not come easily. Norah is an incredibly strong person and her courage, although she doesn't see it and focuses on her failings, shines through the story. The author has done an amazing job of capturing mental illness and the stigma and misunderstandings they constantly face. Norah is an easily likable character and explains how things feel to her incredibly well, giving the reader an intimate portrait of OCD and agoraphobia. Her mother is really Norah's hero in the book; she is an unbelievable source of support and understanding that not everyone with mental illness is lucky enough to have. She is a wonderful example of how to support and encourage someone in this kind of situation. Luke was another great example and, to an extent, part of the catalyst for Norah to begin coming out of her cocoon. Even though he isn't perfect, he's doing his best to respect Norah's needs and research how he can support her on his own. This is a fantastic book and a must read for people of all backgrounds who want/need exposure to the reality of mental illness (and secondarily, has a cute romance besides). Please note that I received this book from the publisher through netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
ReadingwithPugs More than 1 year ago
I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I enjoyed this book very much. This is the story of a girl with a mental illness and how her life is controlled by the limitations that illness puts on her. I thought the writing was well done, not too overly descriptive and kept the story flowing nicely. I never felt stuck, bored or disengaged from the story or the characters. The story is not an easy one to read because Norah, our main character, suffers a great deal with her OCD and agoraphobia. She cannot even leave the house due to her fears and it is very difficult to watch her go through that. I think the author did a great job of not sugar coating how difficult mental illness is and how guilt can also play tricks with you when you are sick. There were certain parts of this story that I could very strongly identify with Norah. I have a physical illness that is also invisible but it is debilitating none the less. I have limitations about being able to participate in functions and going out the same as Norah and as we watched her go through he guilt she felt she was inflicting upon her loved ones because of her illness, I felt a kinship to her. Anyone that suffers from illnesses that limit them and / or are interested in stories about mental illness I would strongly encourage to read this book.