Bullying leaves fourteen year-old Audrey paralyzed with an anxiety disorder. Now she hides behind sunglasses within the safe walls of her family’s home. When her therapist challenges her to create a video diary, Audrey begins filming interactions between family members. Her mother, believing Audrey’s brother has a gaming addiction, sets out to cure him, by force if necessary. Frank, Audrey’s brother, just wants to enter a gaming competition, and he’ll do whatever he has to do to get time online practicing for the big day. The competition prep introduces Audrey to Linus, her brother’s gaming buddy. Linus seems to like Audrey, despite her anxiety. His enthusiasm for her wellness seems to propel Audrey forward, but a spike in anxiety always seems just a breath away for Audrey. She wants to flip a switch and be normal again, but she must learn that therapy and life don’t work that way. Sometimes it’s the unexpected daily victories that deserve to be celebrated.
While at first this might seem like a dark topic for an author famous for her laugh-out-loud stories, Kinsella brings the zany fun in the interactions between Audrey’s family members and even in some of Audrey’s own experiences. I loved that this isn’t a story strictly about a girl’s battle with mental illness, but that it shows the way Audrey’s experiences have affected each person in her family. Audrey’s mother absolutely cracked me up. Her hypervigilance and worry were so easy to identify with and, taken to the extreme as they were, easy to laugh at.
It’s also not a story about how getting a boyfriend saved a poor broken girl. Audrey’s relationship with Linus certainly plays an important role in her recovery. He challenges her to do things that she’s frightened of doing, and then his enthusiasm becomes its own reward. Sometimes he misunderstands Audrey’s needs, and that causes some problems. Those difficulties made sense and added another element of realism to the story.
Fans of Kinsella’s other books will definitely enjoy the situational humor and wit of Finding Audrey. Readers looking for a lighthearted read will find that despite the heaviness of the topic, this is a fun, inspiring story.
Extreme profanity used infrequently.
Audrey and Linus spend time snuggling on the couch and kissing.
Vague references to instances of bullying that were severe enough to cause Audrey to have a breakdown.
Audrey takes medication for anxiety. She decides to quit her meds on her own and must deal with consequences.