Faking Normal

Faking Normal

by Courtney C. Stevens


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An edgy, realistic debut novel praised by the New York Times bestselling author of Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys, as “a beautiful reminder that amid our broken pieces we can truly find ourselves.”

Alexi Littrell hasn’t told anyone what happened to her over the summer by her backyard pool. Instead, she hides in her closet, counts the slats in the air vent, and compulsively scratches the back of her neck, trying to make the outside hurt more than the inside does—and deal with the trauma.

When Bodee Lennox—“the Kool-Aid Kid”—moves in with the Littrells after a family tragedy, Alexi discovers an unlikely friend in this quiet, awkward boy who has secrets of his own. As their friendship grows, Alexi gives him the strength to deal with his past, and Bodee helps her summon the courage to find her voice and speak up about the rape that has changed the course of her life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062245397
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/06/2015
Series: Faking Normal Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 360,874
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)
Lexile: HL610L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

Courtney “Court” Stevens grew up among rivers, cornfields, churches, and gossip in the small-town South. She is a former adjunct professor, youth minister, and Olympic torch bearer. She has a pet whale named Herman, a band saw named Rex, and several books with her name on the spine: Faking Normal, The Lies About Truth, and the e-novella The Blue-Haired Boy. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee. You can visit her online at www.courtneycstevens.com.

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Faking Normal 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
Chancie More than 1 year ago
This book's characterization is absolutely wonderful. The unfolding dynamic between the two main characters is soul touchingly realistic and beautiful, and I loved it. This is an important story that needs to be heard. It is not another "Speak." It is a story all its own.
Book_Sniffers_Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Faking Normal is a tough novel to read. Sure, it’s about rape but what really bothered me was her incapability to tell someone “no”. I understand her not speaking out about the attack. I understand her second guessing. I understand her thinking it was her fault. However, what I don’t get is how when something is presented to her that she doesn’t want, whether it’s going to the dance, having peas on her pizza, or having her date throw himself on her. Instead of just saying “no”, she says “sure” or makes non-committal noises. There was never any protest from her. She just went along with everything and anything and it really irritated me. “I don’t understand this about myself. This invisible enemy, this inability to say no. I need answers. Isn’t there a reason why I’m so afraid to assert myself?” I loved the slow building relationship between Alexi and Bodee. They weren’t even friends before he moved into her house. In fact, he was known as the “the Kool-Aid Kid,” a kid who the school talks about because he dies his hair a different color with Kool-Aid every day. So, when he comes to live with Alexi’s family, she’s sort of forced to be nice to him. Then they slowly become awkward housemates. Over time they became friends which became each others support for the darkness they were harboring within. Their relationship and the fact that he slowly pulls Alexi out of the shadows is what kept me reading. My favorite part of the whole book is the author’s note to the readers. She talks about abuse and gives advice to those who may have been assaulted in some way. She reassures the readers that it’s not their fault, the pain of what you’re feeling will get better, and that it does not define you. I think her letter was very powerful and one that just about brought me to tears.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Misfitts bind over lyrics abd their secrets i bleeping lov this novel move over pretty girl 13 and the hunger games this is my new favorite book!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a good book for only like two bucks. Honostly i only read the sample. It sounds good.....Example: Caption Lyrics, Boys dad kills mom, boy from school lives with the girl now, who is captiin lyrics?, what is the girl's seceret? And more
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gritty, a much needed conversation that it feels like you are having with a friend. A friend that gets it and shows good comes in any form and so does bad.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed this book.
Dametra More than 1 year ago
This book has really pushed me to be inspired to do better things with my life and let go of the past. 
socraticparenting More than 1 year ago
This is a book I’ve wanted to read since I met Courtney Stevens at an SCBWI event not long before the book’s release. It moved to the top of my “to read” list this month because April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. I’m so glad it did. LHA’s Speak was groundbreaking 15 years ago. Since then, I’ve read multitudes of YA books that deal with sexual assault, and few pack the emotional honesty with literary craft the way Speak and Faking Normal do. Stevens combines a strong, well-paced plot with believable character development into a fictional story that needs to be heard. When it comes to sexual assault, every kind of “telling” takes courage. Stevens is to be commended on this powerful debut novel, and especially for her encouraging “Dear Reader” note at the end. I look forward to reading more from this rising YA star.
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nbookaholic More than 1 year ago
Every once in a while we come across a book that is mind-blowing-good and you love it so much that you can’t stop thinking about and can’t even talk about it for fear of incoherent rambling.  Well, Faking Normal was this kinda book. Faking Normal is contemporary done right. This poignant and powerful novel stands out among the recent young adult releases and is guaranteed to make you feel. Courtney C. Steven’s weaves a moving story of two teenagers’ journey following the aftermath of a tragedy and their discovery of the power of love, hope and healing through forgiveness.  “Me: A girl who was raped.  Him: A boy whose dad killed his mom.Us: A girl and boy who survive.” Alexi Littrell is an ordinary teenager who looks like she has pretty much everything together. But life is anything but normal for Alexi who’s dealing with aftermath of a betrayal and rape by someone she trusted. Bodee Lennox aka the Kool Aid Kid, is a survivor of domestic violence whose mother was murdered by his father.  Steven’s breaks free of the ‘strong female protagonist’ mould and gives us a heroine who’s utterly refreshing. Don’t get me wrong Alexi is strong after all, she is survivor a sexual abuse and she helped Bodee to seek closure and testify at his father’s trial. However, she was also human-She knew she needed Bodee’s help in order to understand what truly happened and to forgive herself. Bodee was amazing, guys. He’s unlike any other male hero in YA. His sensitivity, wisdom and kindness will have you falling irrevocably in love with him. The romance was the best kind-sweet and slow. Watching Alexi and Bodee fall for each other was simply beautiful. Faking Normal would not be same without Steven’s powerful writing. The captivating prose and mystery element make Faking Normal one hell of a compelling read. Courtney C. Steven masterfully tackles the sensitive subject of rape and courageously challenges the common misconceptions in rape culture in this debut. Courtney C. Steven’s heartbreaking and heart-warming debut Faking Normal will without doubt leave a mark on readers. MY FAVORITE LINE: “There are no words to this music, and that makes me sad. Every song deserves lyrics. Deserves a story to tell.”  AND THIS ONE:  “And more than that, Bodee left me with hope. For love. For wanting someone to touch me again and to lie with me without fear as my first response. Because Bodee slept in his sneakers, because Bodee asked for a kiss instead of just taking it, and because he kept space between us. He danced with two fingers until I asked for three or four... and his hand on my hip.I know we're both still broken. Both of us. But Bodee's got the glue to make us whole. He is love.”  I SWEAR THIS IS THE LAST ONE: “But today is better than yesterday. And this hurt is still a hole in me, but it's a shrinking hole.”
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was expecting something a little darker, maybe even moodier, when I picked up this book, and even though it was lighter than I expected, I still fell in love with Faking Normal. Alexi seems like a normal, functioning teenage girl, except she’s not. She’s hiding something, something that brings her to her closet nearly every night to scratch the back of her neck or to count the slashes in the vent above her bed. Faking Normal opens to a scene at a funeral for Bodee’s mom (a friend of Alexi’s mom), who was murdered by his father. Bodee is a student at Alexi’s high school, and at the funeral Alexi reaches out to him, somewhat unexpectedly. With Bodee’s help, Alexi starts to confront her problems, and even helps Bodee through his troubles as well. I adored this book, especially Bodee and Alexi’s friendship. It was easy, natural, and it was so adorable and cute. Bodee was the sweetest guy and a great friend to Alexi. Alexi was a little bit hard to like at times, mostly because, despite having her problems, I felt like she should have been a little stronger. I understand why she wasn’t, and how she couldn’t say no, but it still bothered me that she didn’t stand up for herself. Even in pretty harmless situations, she still went along with things she didn’t want to do. For the most part, I did like her character though, especially when she was around Bodee. I wasn’t expecting the ending, or rather the person revealed to have raped her. I thought it was someone else for half the book, and the other half, I was completely unaware. I liked the fact that it surprised me, but I also hated how normal Alexi managed to act around this person, how even though she felt so affected by what happened, yet showed no signs when around him. She was more skittish around the people who didn’t hurt her than around the one who did. This made no sense to me, and it felt off in the end. Overall, this was a fairly light read, though it dealt with a very serious issue. I’d recommend this book to fans of Speak by Anderson, Ellen Hopkins’ Books, or books that deal with real issues. Faking Normal was emotional, but managed to make me laugh and smile, kept me interested till the last page. 
kimberlyfaye More than 1 year ago
It's difficult to put my thoughts about this book into words, which is why I've been holding off on doing a review. This book was beautifully written and equal parts heartbreaking and hopeful. It took two broken characters, Alexi and Bodee, and threw them together in a most expected way. Their bond allowed them both to heal and move past their demons. It was honest and real and I had a visceral reaction to many of the scenes. It deals with tough issues and will not be a book everyone will enjoy or appreciate. But, I did appreciate it and I respect Courtney for tackling the issues she did in this book.  Alexi was raped by someone and didn't tell anyone. The guy who did it is still in her life. We don't know who it was for quite awhile in the book. I guessed correctly, but I went back and forth a couple times wondering if I had figured it out. Regardless, it didn't matter who did it. What mattered was how it impacted her life after. She didn't withdraw from everything. She had friends. She was social. But, she spent many nights hiding in her closet and self-mutilating herself in order to cope. She feels betrayed, but also guilty. Her pain was laid right out for the reader to see.  Bodee, the Kool-Aid Kid, moves into her house after his father murders his mom. He is different. Awkward, but sweet. He is trying to cope as best he can with what life has handed him and is also trying to deal with his guilt for not saving his mother. He was a complicated kid who, even though he had enough to deal with on his own, came into Alexi's life at just the right time. Bodee helped her come to terms with what happened to her and encouraged her to do the thing she didn't want to do – confront her rapist. Their friendship was sweet and perfect for each of them at the time. The relationship that built slowly out of it was beautiful.  This book is pretty heavy on the emotions, as you can imagine. I was entirely wrapped up in Alexi's and Bodee's stories from the beginning. Both of them had been through so much at such a young age, yet neither of them acted like a victim. The outside world would have had no idea about Alexi. Bodee was in pain, but it was more internal. Their friendship, and ultimately budding relationship, built naturally over time. It never felt forced. They shared a deep connection with each other.  It's not easy to write a book that deals with rape. Courtney did it in a way that not only gave an honest look at what a victim goes through emotionally in the aftermath, but also at others' perceptions of rape. It was frustrating to me at times how other characters behaved, but it was realistic. I thought it was all handled very well, once Alexi finally decided to tell someone.  This isn't a light and fluffy book. If you have a hard time reading about heavy issues or dealing with lots of emotions, this isn't the book for you. But, if you can appreciate a story that focuses on how a character (or two, in this case) navigates the stages of grief and pain after something bad happens, and ends on a beautiful, hopeful note, you should definitely give this one a try. I think you'll find these characters and this story will stick with you for a long time. I know it will stick with me. I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Books that begin with funerals have nowhere to go but up, but sometimes the journey really runs you through the ringer....and man, does debut author Courtney Stevens reward you for braving the trip. Alexi has known Bodee, well, pretty much forever, but as any school kid could tell you there's knowing - and there's acknowledging each other's existence as you pass in the hall. So why she feels compelled to comfort him when he bolts from his murdered mother's funeral is anybody's guess. But Alexi knows that they both are fighting an internal pain that neither can give a voice to. Something was taken from Alexi in the summer and she's clamped it so deep inside that she can't sleep for the secret, hides in her closet for comfort, scratches away at her own skin as though trying to rid herself of the shell that's the only thing holding her together. The only comfort she has comes from the lyrics written on a desk she shares in a classroom...she writes a lyric that he finishes, then he does the same for her. It's a shared means of anonymous communication that she finds safer than an actual relationship with a boy. Bodee doesn't talk to anybody; he's the tall thin kid with his hands in his pockets, shoulders hunched, whose only claim to fame is that his father just murdered his mother...oh, and he has blue hair/green hair/red hair, whatever color comes in a package of a famous kid drink. Thrown together because their mothers were friends, Alexi & Bodee form a bond that has more to do with the secrets that broken people carry than with any past friendships. Can they prop each other up long enough to heal? I loved this book and only wished as I finished it that there would be a sequel. I was pleased to find a short story/prequel about Bodee on my NOOK that is a lead in for this book and just reinforces what a great character he is. If you liked Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak or Daisy Whitney's The Mockingbirds, you'll love Faking Normal.
Reading-is-My-Treasure More than 1 year ago
After finishing Faking Normal, I just sat there. I sat there, feeling so calm and content. It felt sad, but only because some tears from earlier were still drying on my face. Mostly, though, I was happy. The book was wonderful and . . . it kind of left me speechless. YA contemporary with a basis on recovery—from abuse, drugs, or anything else—are my absolute favorite. They never seem to go wrong for me—I'm always swept away in the story, the meaning, the emotions . . . and Faking Normal is no exception. It's the kind of book that, despite any flaws I find, fully deserves a five star rating. It just made my heart happy, and isn't that what a truly great book is supposed to do? ALEXIS & HER STORY Alexis is the one "faking normal" in this book. She was the one keeping her secret, hiding in the closet, blaming herself, and suffering as she tried to act as normal and undamaged as possible. Her character was a good one. The journey to finding her strength and voice was remarkable. And her reactions and struggle (as well as the reasons behind them, such as a childhood event) felt very well thought out and well done. The author did a great job with her and her journey. BODEE Bodee was . . . wow. Talk about a good character. He was never described as this hot, muscle-y, irresistible man that makes all the girls go "OMG *swoon*" (I may have stretched that last one. Just a bit. No. He was the "Kool-Aid Kid". He was the "freak" that people felt sorry for because his dad killed his mom. Bodee's was a, as Alexi herself said, a broken guy. But he was so nice And sensitive, protective, quiet, supportive . . . an all around good guy. He helped Alexi recover and open up about her secret, one step at a time. At the same time, he was able to step towards his own "recovery." The two characters were one another's rocks, and man, they were good rocks.  OTHER DETAILS I just want to point out a couple things that stood out to me about the book here. Family was good in this book. The parents didn't play very big roles, but they were still good ones. Kayla was . . . well, most of the time, she acted horrible. When it came to her little sister and and the idea of anyone hurting her, though, she was such a good, strong big sister. I didn't like here much until the end, but at that point, she had completely redeemed herself for me. While family wasn't a key element in this book, neither the parents or the sister fit into that "bad family" trope that many people notice in YA. The subject matter—well, it does focus on sexual abuse, but it's mostly on rape culture and popular views of rape. Alexi felt a lot of fear of what would happen if she told her secret. It would ruin lives. It would label her as damaged. Most of the time, she thought it was her fault . . . she let him do it, she never said no—that type of thing. The author did well with the subject matter and with including popular fears and misconceptions about sexual abuse.  OVERALL Faking Normal is a truly wonderful book. Did it have flaws? Yes, it did. Did they matter to me? Not a bit. I can barely even remember what they were. Even if I did remember, my heart tells me this was a five star book. I cannot recommend this one enough—it's a remarkable and important story that is likely to pull at your heartstrings and leave you saying "wow." Source: I received an e-arc of this book from the publisher through Edelweiss in return for an honest review.
Take_Me_AwayPH More than 1 year ago
 I have so many thoughts about this book. And none of them involve what I was expecting when I had just read the synopsis a long time ago. But I'm happy about that. Because of that, I was able to just really enjoy this and not go into it thinking that I knew too much. "'Sometimes life just sucks." pg. 65 (ARC)      When I found out about this book I was in the middle of a contemporary fiction with bigger issue phase. And when I heard about this one, I quickly added it to my TBR pile. But this one's bigger issue was a lot bigger than I thought it would be. It touches on religion, abuse, and love. And I say love because as a teen, being in love is a bigger issue. And what I loved about this novel is that Stevens wrote about all these issues in such a realistic way. I felt like I was watching this all play out in front of me instead of just the words in my head.   "'Mom and Dad believe they invited Bodee into our home to help him, but the truth is, he's helping me." pg. 97 (ARC)      This brings me to another thing that I loved about this novel. Stevens' writing style. Her writing is beautiful and lyrical. So much so that I found myself closing the back flap and even reading the acknowledgements because I wanted to continue reading her writing. She has the type of writing that you find yourself hanging on every word because you don't want to miss anything. It sort of flows all together, like a song.   "'Love is awkward sometimes." pg. 120 (ARC)       As for the romance in this one, I LOVED it. And Bodee gets an A+, Seal of Approval, and everything else from me. He was there for her through everything and he knew exactly what she needed, even when she didn't. He helped her overcome so much in that short time, and I was so thankful that she had someone. Because that's what she needed. And it was obvious because he drew it right out of her. With his support, she was able to conquer her demon.   "'Easy is empty." pg. 298 (ARC)      The person that did that to her stole away her ability to love and I'm so happy that she gained not one, but so many more people after she lost him. With her being able to look at him all the time, she was so brave. I think that Stevens did a great job of keeping the attacker away from the reader, but I was able to figure out who it was. But all the same, the effect was not lost. "It won't come with a bow on it, but God'll tie it up." pg. 308 (ARC)      This novel realistically shows that life isn't always perfect. It gives a harsh look into certain issues that some teens face: love, lies, abuse, and religion. I absolutely loved this novel and am looking forward to anything else that Stevens may write. Especially Bodee's tale, "The Blue Haired Boy," that comes out in March.
Angelb4u77 More than 1 year ago
I wanted to connect with this book, I did not want my head to implode, I did not want to turn against a victim, but… This was a tough story to get through, and not because rape is the topic at hand, but because of the angle from which it is approached.  Instead of exploring the social complexities and honest emotional aftermath of her rape, the narrator, Alexis stages the first TWO-THIRDS of her story as an agonizing WHODUNIT—complete with misdirection and red-herrings.   This gimmicky plot device does not do the crime of rape justice—especially when Alexis has breezy, nonchalant social encounters with her rapist after the fact.  Sure, the story is called Faking Normal, but that implies everything looks okay on the outside while inside there is emotional chaos.  But in all these scenes with her attacker we never get ANY emotional indication that she is freaking out over having to endure his presence—that’s because the gimmick of the story is to keep us guessing WHO he is.  This much Alexis will tell the reader about her rapist: he’s on the football team, he has a girlfriend who is close to Alexis, and she, Alexis, didn’t exactly tell him NO.  In fact, she admits that she didn’t put up any fight or give him any indication that what he was doing wasn’t okay with her (other than silent tears—but the guy was crying, too, presumably because they were cheating on someone they both care about).  What?!   To make matters worse, Alexis’s inability to say NO is not an isolated innocent.  After her rape, she goes to a dance with another football player, Hayden, and though she KNOWS he’s been drinking and could be more trouble, she follows him alone out to his car and willingly allows him (again, never even whispers the word NO) to aggressively do whatever he pleases with her—that is until her knight-in-shining-Kool-Aid (aka Bodee) shows up and beats him up.  Sure, Hayden is a scumbag, but Alexis even admits that had Bodee not shown up (like she was passively waiting for him to do), she would have let her ‘attacker’ go ALL THE WAY.  Really?  Can we even call him an attacker at this point, and what are we to make of her claim of being raped?  Would she have accused Hayden of the same if Bodee hadn’t shown up?  Alexis’s introspection points to yes.   Context is everything in this story, and by the time Alexis is ready to give us honest narration she’s become neck-scratchingly impossible to like.   Okay, this would be a good time for me to point out that my review of this fictional story is in no way meant to discredit or disregard the pain and struggles faced by real life victims.  In fact, a part of me worries that light-handed stories such as this cheapen those struggles. But there’s a question this story presents (and fails to adequately answer): WHY is it impossible for Alexis to say NO?   Side note: it’s hard to believe that Alexis is perfectly at ease with Bodee (who now lives with her since his dad killed his mom) showing up bare-chested in her bedroom in the middle of the night to watch her sleep (not to mention actually hiding under her bed at one point).  I get that he is supposed to be her charming confidant and guardian, but this seems a little stalkerific/creepy and the mixed-message this presents for young readers is truly astounding since all other males in the story are presented as lurking predators (except for THE lurking predator, of course).  At least put on a t-shirt, Kool-Aid.  (SPOILERS:)  Alexis’s rapist is Craig, her sister’s 27-year-old fiancé.   So, yes, it was STATUTORY rape, which I believe is a very serious crime—but a completely different animal than date-rape, or not-saying-NO-to-a-pushy-teenage-boy-‘rape’, which is how she alludes to it throughout.  Her parents were right there in the house by the pool where she was raped.  Had she reminded Craig that they didn’t want to betray her sister, had she fought, screamed, or simply said NO, I believe that Craig, based on all he had to lose, would likely have balked, backpedaled, apologized and NOT have raped her.  There is a lot of talk about him taking the time to put on a condom and kiss her all over and slowly remove her swimsuit and lay her down, implying that he had plenty of time to do the right thing—but this also means Alexis had plenty of time to say NO (in a million possible ways).  Yes, Craig was her ‘best-buddy’ and her hero, and what he did was an abuse of adult power, but if my hero/sister’s boyfriend/coach/anyone ever tried to push themselves on me I (and I hope most young girls) would instantly see him in a darker light, shoot him down, scream for help, run away, fight, anything but lie there and allow it.  So what makes Alexis silent and compliant? Here’s the answer we’re given: when she was an impressionable child of six, Alexis caught her sister and Craig having (consensual) sex in the den while they were babysitting her.  To keep her from telling her parents the two of them say that Craig (her ‘best-buddy’) will be sent away if she tells, and that she must always keep their secret if she wants to keep the family whole.  That’s it.  But Alexis implies so much more damage was done.  The misconceptions about sex here are horrendous.  Yes, they were scum for threatening a six-year-old, yes it sucks that a six-year-old had to glimpse teen sex-capades, but Alexis likens this moment in her life to the proverbial molester-uncle forever threatening her not to tell…and it’s just not.  The reality seems to be this: two (fairly typical) teenagers got caught messing around and didn’t want to be punished.  Their threat to her would likely have been the same had Alexis walked in while they were raiding the liquor cabinet.  And ultimately this only speaks to why she doesn’t TELL on Craig—it says nothing about why she allowed him to take her virginity.  Incidentally, to mirror Alexis’s inaction, Bodee is also given an extreme moment of paralysis—while his dad is choking his mother to death.  A full grown teenager with strong arms and an ax to grind against his abusive father (and who has no trouble ripping boys out of cars when they are making out with girls he likes) just hid under the porch and let his father MURDER his beloved mother.  Didn’t try to go to the neighbors right next door for help, didn’t call 911, just let it happen.  WHY? They WHYS are the catalyst of this story, the WHYS are what the entire story (not just the last third) should have been attempting to answer.  But no depth of thought is ever really given to this matter.  Indeed, it is basically implied that children are victimized simply because they are clueless and helpless and scared.  Fine, accept that and you would expect there to be a MAJOR punishment laid down on Craig.  Nope.  Doesn’t happen. To quote Bodee, ‘It doesn’t come with a bow on it, but God will tie it up’.  Alexis interprets this to mean that things will be alright, but not overnight.  Except in this book they are.  Because once the sight of a free bird at her window tritely convinces Alexis to finally tell on Craig (I’m serious, a bird is all it takes after ALL this) everything gets wrapped up in sparkly, happy, glory-filled bows.  Her sister (despite being a notoriously unforgiving bitch who loves to point fingers and play the victim) immediately forgives and sympathizes with Alexis, breaks up with Craig, and demands he quit coaching the football team and leave town forever.  And that’s it.  Their new (and fully damaged) family dynamics are completely breezed over, and Craig, despite being declared a capital-R rapist (one step below a murderer in my book) is never brought to actual justice, the cops are never called, he’s never labeled a sex offender and is presumably free to rape other girls in his new town.  And Alexis and Bodee: they live happily ever after—in her bed, literally.   The End.      Yeah, my head imploded. 
BlkosinerBookBlog More than 1 year ago
    I wanted to read Faking Normal because I am drawn to anything about self-harm. I used to be a cutter and still get the urges to sometimes. But books like this aren't really a trigger for me, just like I can read about suicide and depression. Everyone should know their limits. To me, it is very therapeutic and it gives me a sense of really being connected with the character and knowing that I am past that and they can heal as well. But I think that it handled these touchy personal subjects in a delicate and tasteful way.      Courtney Stevens wrote a winner in Faking Normal. I was able to connect to Alexi, her pain was palpable and I totally relate with the putting on a mask and pretending like everything is okay on the outside when deep down there is pain. I don't share her particular pain of the past but there are things that I never wanted to talk about either, and put on that front. But her journey to realizing that she can trust her family and the right friends with her heart and her pain is so beautiful, watching her become strong enough to tell the truth and stand up for herself is amazing.       I think that Alexi's silence is all too common. That she thinks she can handle it, and that she doesn't want the pain to be out in the world. She thinks it is her fault which is also common in these cases. I think that in these aspects, it keeps it really realistic and makes her sympathetic to what others have experienced. She couldn't find her voice to say no, but she was crying. She blames herself in this way too, while I wished she would have made a clear word or pushed him away, if she didn't want it, it is rape. That is hard too, that fine line of letting it happen and it being rape. But I think with the obvious circumstances when you find out who, it is a line that never should have been crossed. They weren't in any sort of relationship and it wasn't a precedent. So, like I said, amazingly handled, and I think that it shows a new issue. When she was raped but unable to actually verbalize no. Her silence is such a theme in this book, and finding her voice is such growth in her.      And the circumstances for how it comes about is through Bodee. He is the underdog, the Kool Aid kid because he dyes his hair a rainbow of colors with Kool Aid and his painful past. He is quiet, awkward, but loyal to a fault. Over time as they are living in the same house, they begin to talk with each other or even just sit in silence together and they have a bond because they can recognize that pain beneath the surface. I loved everything about Bodee--that he doesn't have the need to fill silences, that he is strong, observant, and that he's a good guy. He steps in and talks with Alexi, lets her know that she can trust him and he proves himself as a friend over and over and going above and beyond what even a best friend might do. He is an ultimate book boyfriend and he is what made this a 5 star, amazing instead of just a 4, I love it. Because it is a friendship, a slow burn, a build up and anticipation. They want to help each other through their pain, give their fears and past a voice, help the other one be stronger.      "And I promise to stop whoever is hurting you."      I stand there barely breathing and he says something that sounds like "Even if it's you."  How can you not love a boy man like that? Life has shown him the hard way that it can be cruel but also beautiful and even when he didn't before, to stand up for who he cares about and help them get out of the way of pain.  He is so well developed and fleshed out. Amazingness.     The story never lets up and there is character development and relationship progress at every turn. I thought that I had everything figured out but I didn't. There were things and twists that took me by surprise and ended up making it even more powerful. I read this literally in one sitting, and it kept this stay at home mommy who has to get up at 7am up until past 3 devouring these words and characters that stole my heart.      So, I saw on my dear friend blogger The Eater of Books (even though the issues didn't sit well with her, she like me loved Bodee) but she posed the question, why do people cut, that it didn't make sense to her personally. So, as I have experience with this, I ended up writing a novella, and thought that I would put it here since it relates to the book. So... I will chime in and say that the cutting-- the nails on the neck--scars on wrist, whatever, I have been there and done that. It really does provide a sense of relief if you have ptsd or depression or even something hard in the past.  It gives a sense of control, and release. I used to do it because I wasn't in control of what my parents did, where I lived, what other kids said about me behind my back, what my boyfriend did--if he paid attention to me, if he was mean to me, and even if I gave a voice to it, I couldn't really explain. I felt like I couldn't control anything, but I could control physical pain that I could feel. YES, it has been mainstreamed as "emo" and therefore it really doesn't have some of the seriousness that it should. It can be a cry for help, but it most likely to the victim can be a physical marker of the emotional pain that they feel inside.  Maybe that explains a little better the why.      And back to the book. The ending is amazing and even though I didn't want to leave the characters because I loved them and wished for more time with them, every thing was wrapped up well. It gave that perfect balance of realistic, giving hope and healing as well as giving me a taste of what their truly happily ever after could be. I wouldn't want them to completely have it in a powerful, deep and emotional story like this, because that would be glossing over their problems instead of seeking true help and healing.     This kinda describes their ending, their friendship, their trust, their relationship.  I know we’re still broken. Both of us. But Bodee’s got the glue to make us whole. He is love. - ARC, Faking Normal Bottom Line: Powerful, emotional, and I related with Alexi and loved everything about Bodee. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
(Hey guys do not faint or try to die on this chapter. Firework requested to kiss in the story sometime. Im gonna do it.) I got up from my bed and went downstairs. I had smell a big delicioius smell from my kitchen. Firework must have cooked breakfeast while I was asleep. "Hey why are you covering my eyes,Firework?",I asked."I want it to be a suprise for my coltfriend.",Firework said. I started to blush."I can't wait to see what's for breakfeast.",I said. Firework uncovered my eyes. It was waffles with cinnamon and melted marshmellows."Mmm my favorite.",I said. I was wondering how I could repay her. I grabbed her hoof and kissed her on the lips. "Wow.",Firework said."Hey I couldn't just eat the waffles without repaying you.",I said."Oh Blazin my parents are coming to see if you are the right colt for me.",Firework said. "Wait i'm not a colt anymore i'm a hedgehog.",I said."It doesn't matter what you are just be yourself.",Firework said."Ok.",I said.
Lisa-LostInLiterature More than 1 year ago
Alexa is a terribly broken and sad teenager. She suffered a horrible event that she blames herself for and refuses to face head-on or deal with appropriately. For the sake of her family, she pretends all is well and tells absolutely no one about what happened to her over the summer. She ends up blocking the incident in her mind in hopes of forgetting it ever happened… but this just forces her to deal with the stress in other ways, such as scratching the back of her neck obsessively. Alexa befriends Bodee, otherwise termed “the Kool-Aid Kid” by the kids at school. They are both suffering, and neither one of them knows quite how to deal with it. Together they learn how to face their fears, as well as how to overcome them. There was an added mystery to this emotional story as well. We get a list of suspects presented throughout the story, yet it’s very difficult to figure out who actually did these horrible things to Alexa until she figures it out for herself. Touching on several sensitive issues, such as rape, self-harm and depression, and the blaming of oneself in order to deal with a horrific event, this story is also about healing and moving on after something tragic. It’s the perfect balance, and definitely worth a read. A wonderful debut from a sure-to-be up-and-coming new author. I’ll be reading The Blue-Haired Boy: A Faking Normal Story in the very near future. Grab your tissues and be prepared for all the feels.
Sarah_UK1 More than 1 year ago
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.) 16-year-old Alexi is hiding a secret, a secret about something that happened to her over the summer, one that is driving her to hurt herself and stopping her from sleeping. If she tells, she’ll ruin one boys life, but the secret is ruining hers. Can Alexi really live with this secret? Will she ever find the strength to tell someone what this boy did to her? And doesn’t he deserve to have his life ruined after he ruined hers? I really enjoyed this book, the mystery of what had happened and who had done it was super intriguing! I liked Aleix, and I really felt for her and what she had gone through. It was easy to see why she was so upset, and why she was having such problems coming to terms with things, and I loved the way that Bodee found a way to help her. I totally got why she felt so scared, and why defending herself was so difficult, and I really wanted her to get things out in the open and begin to feel better. I really liked the storyline in this book, and the mystery aspect was done really well. I loved how we had a list of suspects, and it was really difficult to actually know who it was that had done the deed, and I was torn as to who I thought it was, and I really didn’t guess the culprit until the moment before it was revealed. So impressed with the mystery in this book! There was romance, but it was subtle, and it was friendship becomes love rather than anything else. I loved the way that Bodee was there for Alexi, and supported her through what she was going through, the same way that she supported him. There was also a mystery side to the romance as well though, with a mystery man who left Alexi notes in the form of song lyrics, that she would then write the next line to. I really liked this mystery too, and I really couldn’t wait to find out who ‘Captain Lyrics’ was! The ending was also done really well and everything came together at just the right moment. I liked the way that things were resolved, and I loved the way the romance ended too. I really did love the mystery and romance of this book; it made this un-put-down-able! Overall; intriguing mystery and sweet romance – highly recommended! 8.75 out of 10
Alyssa75 More than 1 year ago
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens Publisher: HarperTeen Publication Date: February 25, 2014 Rating: 2 stars Source: eARC from Edelweiss Summary (from Goodreads): An edgy, realistic, and utterly captivating novel from an exciting new voice in teen fiction. 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. When Bodee Lennox, the quiet and awkward boy next door, comes to live with the Littrells, Alexi discovers an unlikely friend in "the Kool-Aid Kid," who has secrets of his own. 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 face the truth. A searing, poignant book, Faking Normal is the extraordinary debut novel from an exciting new author-Courtney C. Stevens. What I Liked: I know, I know. I'm as shocked as you are, when looking at the rating. I was so sure that this one would blow me away. I love Courtney - she's amazing and super sweet - and I have been looking forward to reading this one. I don't read too many tough-issue books, so it has to sound pretty good for me to decide to read it. Right? In this book, we have Alexi, who was raped by someone (we don't find out definitely until the end, but the astute will pick it up from the beginning, it was super obvious to me), and Bodee, whose mother died (it's more complicated than that). Bodee comes to live with Alexi's family (his mother and Alexi's mother were good friends). Throughout the book, the pair help each other battle their demons and heal.  But neither teen's road is straight and narrow. Alexi struggles physically and mentally, by harshly scraping her nails down her neck to make herself bleed, and by shutting out everything about the rape. She blames herself for not stopping him. Bodee blames himself for watching his mother die. He is quiet and serious, but no where near as twisted and messed up as Alexi (in my opinion).  I really like how Stevens brings about Alexi and Bodee's relationship. That is a truly progressive and meaningful relationship. It starts with an understanding between the two, but then develops into friendship, then trust, then love. That was well done by Stevens. I really, really like Bodee. Stevens didn't make him out to be a sex demon on legs, like most YA heroes seem to be these days. He's a teen boy who seems awkward and quiet and dyes his hair different colors. I really, really like him. Somehow, he understands, he empathizes, and he KNOWS. He's a genuinely good guy, an old soul, a decent person. I wish I knew a guy like that.  Bodee is basically why this book got two stars, and not one star. BUT, not in the way you're thinking. Read above. He's a well-rounded character, well-developed, and truly likable. What I Did Not Like: On to the difficult part. I hate writing in this section when I know that this book could be a perfectly amazing read for someone else. Like, it's probably just me who didn't enjoy these things! I mentioned that I don't read a lot of tough-issue books - well, this book features some of the reasons why I don't read them. Let me preface this by saying that I am in NO WAY ridiculing the act of rape. I sympathize with rape victim, and I would never ask that on anyone, to be raped. No woman deserves that, ever. For example (exhibit A, etc.), I really, really dislike Alexi's excuses. It's utter bulls*** (oh, you thought I was finished with the bulls*** reviews? Nope. You were wrong. I don't think this is first one of 2014 though!). She blames herself for getting raped, because not at any point did she try to stop him, and neither he nor she was drunk. WELL, GIRL. SEX DOESN'T JUST HAPPEN. IT'S NOT SOMETHING THAT OCCURS IN 10 SECONDS. Especially the way the author described it - the dude massaged her shoulders. He touched her. He put on a condom. THESE THINGS TAKE TIME. HOW THE HECK DO YOU NOT FEEL UNSAFE. There is a part in your brain that detects when you feel unsafe - that's what makes the hairs on your neck stand, or whatever. FOLLOW YOUR INSTINCTS. And at no point during the rape did she cry out or scream or tell him to stop or anything. She CRIED, and even that was silent. According to the book, she ran out of words. REALLY?! That's such bulls***, in my opinion. You're about to have a traumatic experience, and you don't think to, I don't know, FIGHT BACK, OR SCREAM, OR SAY GET AWAY FROM ME?! That's utter bulls***. Girls these days no better, ESPECIALLY if they are sober or not under any influences, and ESPECIALLY if the guy is sober and not under any influences as well. So, I think Alexi is full of s*** and excuses. She didn't want to tell anyone, because she blamed herself. Okay, wow. THAT makes sense. Yes, you didn't fight back or scream. But that doesn't mean you didn't get RAPED. That doesn't justify the fact that something bad happened. Oh, and get this: she didn't want to say anything not just because she blamed herself, but because she didn't want to ruin his life. OH MY GOSH YOU ARE SOOOO SMART, ALEXI. I'd want to ruin his life just as badly as he ruined mine. He'd be serving some serious jail time, or worse. I wouldn't be sparing him because I want him to have a good life! Are you f***ing kidding me?! And even in the end! What was that?! Did he get life in prison?! NO. I'm not going to say what his punishment was, but it wasn't enough. It was NOWHERE NEAR ENOUGH. He got off with a slap on the wrist, basically.  Ugh, the ending. It was so hunky dory. Miraculously, Alexi's relationship with her sister is cut and pasted back together. Everything just happens to fall into place for Alexi. Everything works out. You know what gave Alexi the courage to speak up? A bird. A bird flew past her and she was like, oh, freedom, I want that. WELL IT TOOK YOU LONG ENOUGH. And goodness, there are birds EVERYWHERE. NOW, you conveniently see one and decide to spill. THAT makes sense. Also? Someone please explain to me why cutting yourself (or scraping your fingernails against the back of your neck, like Alexi does) makes sense. Tell me how that makes things better. Tell me how physical pain makes emotional or mental pain go away. It. Does. Not. This is more of a general thing, than something to do with the book. I know it is a response that victims of crimes have, but it really makes no sense to me.  Anyway. I don't deal well with excuses and bulls***, and Alexi is full of both. And when you have a problem with the main character, and the book is written in first person, then you have serious problems with the entire book. Sad life. Would I Recommend It: This is tricky. If you're anything like me, then no, don't waste your time with this one. Tough-issue books are definitely NOT meant for everyone, but that doesn't mean that I don't enjoy one every now and then. I thought this one would be different, but alas, it wasn't for me.  However, I know that this book is a much-anticipated read for many people. And to them, I say, READ IT! Go for it! Don't NOT read it because I didn't like it! Because chances are, you'll love it! This is an excellent book... for those who deal with the things I hated. Rating: 2 stars. I totally understand why most readers will LOVE this book, but it just was NOT for me.