Genre: UKYA Contemporary
Under Rose Tainted Skies is an unflinching and moving story of 17 year old Norah as she go es through life whilst struggling with a variety of mental illnesses, including agoraphobia and OCD. This book is less than 300 pages long, but took me almost a month to read. Not because I didn’t like it or connect with it – on the contrary, I connected to this book so much it was difficult reading at times. I had to make sure when reading this book I was in my safe space (my bed) without the prospect of having to go too far from my house that day. I won’t lie, this book did trigger me a couple of times, so if you do have experience with anxiety, OCD or agoraphobia then do take that into account.
That being said, I do not regret reading it in the slightest. I’ve read quite a few really great books that cover OCD (Am I Normal Yet? And Every Last Word come to mind) but I have never felt so connected to the main character or understood so completely how she felt. Norah is a flawed and frustrating character but every time she attempts to leave the house or try something new you’re rooting for her. The writing in this book is particularly great. There are some beautifully written sentences and metaphors mixed in with Norah’s day to day life that are balanced perfectly and work so well.
I thought that the relationships in this book were all executed brilliantly. I loved Dr Reeves’ character in particular, who is Norah’s therapist, and their relationship. She is extremely supportive and considerate and will take time out of her day to visit Norah at her house to make sure she is okay. Norah’s mum was also a highlight – prominent and good parental figures in YA aren’t always the easiest to come by but Norah’s mother was dimensional and interesting. You can tell she has her own dreams and aspirations but ultimately she loves and cares for her daughter and helps her with her mental illness every step of the way.
I wasn’t sure how I felt about Luke as a character at first, but I soon found myself rooting for his and Norah’s friendship to succeed and grow. He’s a very sweet and attractive love interest who is also human and does become frustrated and annoyed at times. I really appreciated that Louise addressed things like Luke not cutting himself off from everyone else because of his growing relationship with Norah and the overall affect Norah’s illness had on that.
Overall, Under Rose Tainted Skies is a brilliant #ownvoices debut novel that shows the effects and difficulties of living with a mental illness, not just on the person but on the people surrounding them as well. It is unflinching and raw in its portrayal of agoraphobia and an important story that should be read.