Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens | Book Review




book synopsis When Alexi is raped over the summer she keeps it to herself and deals with her pain by hiding in her closet and harming herself by scratching huge gashes into her neck and compulsively counting the vent grates. When her mom’s best friend dies her son Bodee, who is also Alexi’s quiet and mysterious classmate who dies his hair with Kool Aid, comes and lives with them. They recognize pain and hurt in each other and keep the secrets both are keeping while trying to help each other move forward.

good books to readGAH this is so hard to pinpoint my feelings as to why I did not click with this one. But pretty much the whole time I was reading I was like, “Self. Put this down. You do not like it.” But since I struggle with putting books down and wanted it confirmed WHO the rapist was and who Captain Lyric was, despite being pretty sure I knew BOTH, my eyes kept trucking it page by page. It’s hard because it’s a very important topic — a girl is raped and her virginity is taken from her and she’s been keeping quiet about it but struggles with it every day and has to SEE her rapist regularly. She blames herself and has started harming herself. It’s an important story to be told for sure and I thought the story itself was great and the discussion that could come from this book is fantastic. PLUS there are a SLEW of 5 star reviews on Goodreads from people I trust. I SEE obvious difference in feelings and I’m just wondering what disconnect happened for me??

I think the first thing that made me just not click with this one was the writing. I do not know what it was about this but it was grating every nerve in my body. I just would stop after certain sentences and just feel annoyed. Things like, “he’s only a garnish to Collie’s caviar” or “things between us are still messy like pumpkin guts.” The writing and the main character’s voice just was not my thing apparently. I have no way to try and describe WHY it didn’t gel with me but I only know the feeling I got when I was reading. (Am I the only one this happens to?) No doubt Courtney C. Stevens is a skilled writer and brings much depth to a story but there was just something in it that didn’t work for me.

The other issue was the relationship between Bodee and Alexi. I liked it to some degree, in theory, and thought it was sweet. I appreciated the relationship between them, both the friendship and the budding romance, and how it slowly grew and there were some very sweet moments and I didn’t feel like their relationship overshadowed the rest of the story. I liked how he helped her work through things and she was there for him as well but it just seems like he came waltzing into her life, in the midst of his own tragedy, and saved the day! It just rubbed me the wrong way and felt very convenient that he seemed to know her so well immediately despite the fact they barely knew each other and in such a short time frame?

The other thing is that when I read books and the author makes me feel like characters are alive, I can SEE them. That might sound weird but they just FORM for me. I feel them. I see them. But there are times when I read that I FEEL like “yeah, they are fictional characters” and this was one of those time. They didn’t live and breath for me like they should have considering the very raw emotions captured from the characters who were going through such painful things.

This was a minor thing but captures some of the things that came together for this not to be my thing. I didn’t like the fact that within two weeks, after HE just went through a traumatic experience losing his mom in a brutal manner, he says, “At least I found you” after she says she’s sorry he lost his mom. I just…didn’t get it. There would have been nothing I could have found, a leprechaun with a pot of money or Adam Levine in my bed, that would have made me feel that way when I lost my mom. This is the kind of stuff that just made me disconnect from this. I know they are teens and FEELINGS come easy but it just took me out of the book.

But, like I said, I had to keep reading to figure out for sure who hurt Alexi and who the mysterious Captain Lyrics was so it hooked me there. I was right on both accounts. I should have probably just flipped to the end to find out but I hoped I would have finally, at some point, connected with this book because there was an important conversation going on within the pages and characters who should have resonated with me more. Obviously I FELT for the main character but too many things took me out and distracted me for me to be truly impacted.

I feel bad about this book not really working for me because it was an important story and it so SEEMS like a book that I would have LOVED but it just didn’t click with me at all. So here are some other reviews of people, whom I trust, who it worked better for so I highly suggest you check them out to get a better picture:

Keertana’s review in which she saysI am, rarely, impressed by Contemporary YA, but this novel is worth every penny. I hardly need to say it, but if I do, then pre-order this one at once – it’s going to be a definite favorite this year.”

Jen’s review in which she says,With one of the most realistic storylines and a slow-burning relationship transition from friendship to romance, Faking Normal impressed me to no bounds”


book reviewsIt’s hard to pinpoint so much of why this book didn’t work for me though I’ve tried to give you some bits and pieces as to why it didn’t. I seem to be WAY in the minority with this one and I hate that all the raw emotions that everyone else felt while reading this just didn’t happen to me. I hate that I didn’t FEEL these characters. But sadly I didn’t. It’s just that feeling I got when reading. It just didn’t do anything for me and I felt more annoyed than NOT while reading. I was so often taken out of the reading experience to care. Also, and such a side note, but the author seems like SUCH a sweetheart and that makes me feel even worse about this somehow. I watched one of her videos after reading this book and desperately wished I loved her book. 🙁

short book reviewCourtney J. Stevens Faking Normal

books you may also like

Live Through This by Mindi Scott, Fault Line by Christa Desir, What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton

for-fans-of-bookBooks tackling tough topics such as rape, victim blaming and self harm | gritty contemporary YA stories| books with close knit families & healthy friendships

Let’s Talk: Did you read this one? Heard of it? If you read it and it worked better for you let’s talk! I want to know what I was missing and would love to hear your thoughts on what I’ve said! Did ANYBODY feel similarly to me because I feel like I really missed out on a WOW story considering other reactions.

The Perpetual Page-Turner


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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. Aww Jamie it’s okay that you didn’t enjoy this one as much as everybody else did! I’m just glad you’re honest with it. 🙂 It looks like there were only a few things here and there that you didn’t like. I didn’t notice or feel a lot of the things you did, like how Alexi and Bodee’s relationship rubbed you the wrong way since it was too convenient. And I loved Stevens’ writing! Anyhow, thanks for being truthful and of course, linking to my thoughts! <3

  2. This one is on my wish list but I haven’t read it yet. Ugh it’s always so disappointing when you’re the odd man out on a hyped up book! Sorry this one didn’t work for you.

  3. I struggled a bit with this one too, for some of the reasons you state. My biggest issue though was I felt so disconnected Alexi. I struggled to understand a lot of her actions and that made it really hard to connect with the story overall.

    Sorry this one didn’t work for you either!

  4. Okay, your review made me feel better. I didn’t click with this and I feel so bad. I think she tackles a difficult subject matter and I give her points for that but I kept wanting to put it down. I was so prepared to like this book and it shocked me when I didn’t. I just had a lot of issues with it.

  5. I’m reading this one right now! I’m definitely clicking with it more than you did, so that’s something! I appreciate the fact that we know what HAPPENED to Alexi already (but not the nitty gritty) in the beginning so we’re with her as she’s figuring it out.

    I also really liked the back and forth between Alexi and her friends, her sister, and her mom. Granted, I’m only about 1/3 of the way through, but I also like how her friends and she don’t always see eye to eye but remain solid anyway. I appreciate that SO MUCH. That they can disagree and remain friends without getting crazy bitchy.

    Anyway, I’m curious to see how this progresses! Thank you for your honesty in the review! Yeah, Courtney seems like a total doll for sure!

  6. Even though I ended up having a far more positive experience with Faking Normal than you did, I can certainly see where you’re coming from. Although I grew more comfortable with Stevens’ writing style as the novel progressed, I found that it had a tendency to be hit-or-miss. There were times that I thought the use of prose was absolutely brilliant, and others when I found it over-worked and awkward, which is something I discussed in my own review, which will be posted as we grow closer to the publication date. I can also understand complaints re: Alexi and Bodee’s relationship monopolizing the story and Bodee ‘fixing’ Alexi, even though I might not agree. I appreciated that their relationship appeared to be mutually beneficial and that they were able to empower one another to move past unimaginable trauma. That said, you’re right – It is a little strange how quickly and closely they were able to grow despite having little to not interaction beforehand. I must admit that Bodee is one of my favourite fictional characters in recent memory. I recognize that he might not have been the most realistic character, but I was able to connect with him in a very significant way. I liked that he was an old soul who seemed wise beyond his years, and that he was able to be such an empowering and stabilizing force in Alexi’s life. I’m sure you’re not the only one who struggled to connect with this novel though, and I predict that it might prove to be a polarizing read given the manner in which it’s written and the subject matter on which it’s based. I really appreciated that you were able to discuss what didn’t work for you, as I encountered a number of the same issues, even if I was ultimately able to look past them.

  7. Oh Jamie don’t worry about being the black sheep with this book. No one is going to absolutely love every single book that someone else loved. It’s okay that you didn’t click with it. I am sorry that you didn’t love it though.You wrote an honest review and that’s what matters.I absolutely loved this book I thought it was essentially perfect but you didn’t have that experience and you know what Jamie? That’s okay. Hopefully the next book will be better for you.

  8. If it makes you feel better, I didn’t really love this one either. My review goes up in a few weeks, but almost the entire thing is me being all angsty about Bodee and Lexi’s relationship. I LOVED their friendship, but you’re spot on when you said it feels like he just came in and saved the day. I hatedddddd that aspect. Like, just no. Especially since he had his own shit to deal with. So basically, I FEEL YOU.

  9. I’m reading this right now and I’m liking it so far. But not loving it. I think that Bodee isn’t dealing with his own grief very well and by that I mean not dealing with it at all. I just feel like he should be more devastated and less able to fix Alexi’s problems you know? What he went through was super traumatic, but he doesn’t seem all that messed up because of it. I do like their relationship though. I think it’s sweet and I like that he pushes Alexi. I was right about the rapist, but I don’t think we’ve learned who Captain Lyric really is yet. (I totally don’t believe who we’re being told is Captain Lyric right now…) Hopefully I will like the way this ends.

  10. I am really interested to read this one, I think it will definitely be one of those books you have to be in a certain mood to read and enjoy. Great review!
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

  11. The synopsis of Faking Normal really captured my attention however having read reviews I’m kind of in two minds as to whether it’s my kind of book. The very brief snippets of text you shared really irked me, it didn’t seem ‘real’. ‘He’s only a garnish to Collie’s caviar’ – do people really talk/think like that? Like really?
    Like you, characters come to life for me when I’m reading and so when they feel fictional it definitely puts me of continuing with a book.
    I’m quite unsure about reading Faking Normal…

  12. I think I will read this eventually because of the important subject matter and generally positive reviews but i’ll have to be in the right mood for it. Those sentences you provided as examples of the writing and his comment about loosing his Mom do worry me a little. I might be in the same boat as you and just not really connect with it. It sucks when you don’t feel as strongly towards a book as you had hoped or as everyone else seems to but it happens.

  13. I’d heard of FAKING NORMAL a while ago, but the idea of it just didn’t click at all with me. It seemed like a perfectly good story in general. But there was just something holding me back from wanting to read it! I might try reading it in the future, but I’ll definitely keep your thoughts in mind since they offer a contrast to the praise I’ve seen lavished on this title.


  1. […] ● Jamie @ The Perpetual Page-Turner wrote “It just didn’t do anything for me and I felt more annoyed than not while reading. I was too often taken out of the reading experience to care.” (Read the rest of the review Here!) […]