“Finding Audrey” by Sophie Kinsella, Delacorte Books for Young Readers , 288 pages, $19.99 hardcover
Author Sophie Kinsella is most notably known for her chick literature “Shopaholic” series. Kinsella explores a more serious topic — teen mental illness — in “Finding Audrey.” The book opens a portal into the life of Audrey, a 14-year-old with complicated anxiety issues.
Audrey is no longer able to attend school because of an incident involving bullying by other female students. Not a lot of information is given about the incident, but nonetheless, it is the catapult for the downward spiral in Audrey’s mental health.
Audrey now wears sunglasses all the time. She is barely able to leave her house, nor look others in the eye while holding a conversation.
Audrey’s family is forced to put her needs ahead of theirs. Yet each family member finds something or someone to obsess about while Audrey is trying to become healthy again. Audrey’s brother finds an escape in computer gaming. Audrey’s mother becomes overly concerned with her son’s gaming habits allowing her to turn her worries about Audrey onto someone else. Audrey’s father is attached to his phone as a way to detach from his family’s problems.
Among the important questions Kinsella poses: At what point should the needs of others come before Audrey’s mental health?
Audrey finds a confidant in Dr. Sarah. However, she is still paralyzed by the anxiety that has made her teenage life utterly boring, yet exhausting.
“Finding Audrey” is unlike many Young Adult books in which the romantic interest swoops in and solves the problems. Audrey is able to see Linus as a safe haven rather than the boy who has come to rescue her.
Audrey’s personality is the complete opposite of “Shopaholic” heroine Becky Bloomwood, a glamorous socialite ready to take on the world. Audrey is in a cocoon hiding from the rain.
“Finding Audrey” is an enjoyable, yet important read for teenagers and parents.