Book Review: Under Rose Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

Title: Under Rose Tainted Skies
Author: Louise Gornall
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: 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?

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Oh. My. Goodness. I’d heard about this book for a couple of months, what with the controversy over Everything, Everything and the ever growing conversation on own voices. But it wasn’t until the new trailer for Nicola Yoon’s book came out that I decided to pick this one up.

I was not disappointed.

Norah is significantly inhibited by Agoraphobia and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. She does not live in spite of her mental illness, she lives with it. It has encumbered her entire life, forces her mother to find jobs that allow her to stay home most of the time, and keeps her from creating meaningful relationships outside of family and her therapist.  Louise Gornall’s depiction of mental illness is not pretty, and does not lend itself to the self deprecation we’ve become accustomed to.

Norah cannot physically leave her house. Impending threats such a germs, attackers, air born illnesses, car crashes, etc prevent her from stepping outside her front door. And it’s not because she’s sick. At least, she doesn’t have any physical ailment. But mentally… she’s all kinds of crazy.

I’ve been very open about my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder on this blog. It’ snot easy being afraid of everything. And while I don’t have the agoraphobia to go with it, my anxiety is just as loud and proud because of my disorder. This book was actually quite triggering, because Norah has some of the same obsessions that I do. The smae compulsions.

When Norah meets Luke, her first instinct is to push him away. After I finished this book yesterday, I had an anxiety attack that unfortunately involved my own boyfriend. When it was over and I was able to reflect, I recognized myself in how Norah acted towards Luke. It was simultaneously freeing and terrifying.

Under Rose Tainted Skies is unequivocally real, raw, emotional, and intriguing. It is a wonderful representation of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and how it affects not only the patient, but those they love. I want to give this book to everyone who’s been affected by my illness.

PS: Alongside this book of very important mental illness conversations, it is also a book littered with high key crushing on boys and romantic notions about kissing and loving someone else. I am absolutely crazy about Norah and Luke.

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