ARC Review and Giveaway (PH/US/CAN): Faking Normal by Courtney Steven

15726915Rating: 4.5 / 5
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Drama
Release Date: February 25, 2014
Publication House: Harpercollins
Number of pages: 336
Source: Physical ARC provided by publisher
Check out on GOODREADS
Pre-Order on AMAZON THE BOOK DEPOSITORY

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.

REVIEW

You know a book has moved you so much when you’ve read it months and months ago and can still remember the story and the values it imparted. You know a book has touched your life when every time you try to write a review about it, you can’t produce any coherent words but simply tears. Usually, when I finish a book, I think about it, write a review, fangirl a bit and then move on to the next one in tow. Here, though? There’s that unmistakable dull ache, even after all this time. There’s a reason why I haven’t written a review until now – upon finishing this book, I just found it so hard to describe the way I felt. I’m not even sure I’ll be able to give it justice now.

Faking Normal follows the story of a girl named Alexi who harbors a deep, dark secret – so dark she is even afraid of it herself. One day, she befriends the “kool-aid kid next door”, Bodee, a distraught boy who witnessed the death of his mother in the hands of his father. Somehow knowing both are broken from different circumstances, they find solace and comfort in each other, gradually pushing and encouraging each other to finally face their inner demons to find peace within themselves.

This book is not easy to digest and definitely not for the faint of heart. It deals with a controversial subject that never fails to make my blood boil: rape. Every day, on the news, I always see reports of women, girls or even men raped, and every time I do, my heart cries out. It’s a horrible thing, and it leaves me terribly aghast to know it continues to occur in our modern times; you would have thought we as a civilization would have left such a primitive practice in the past where it belongs. And majority of the time, I see the women ashamed of that fact – that they were made powerless and taken advantage of. And these are only the small percent who actually cried for help.

And the rest are like Alexi – victims who have lost their ability to cry out, to say no. Victims who fear coming out, who fear that everything they know will change once word of it gets out. Its portrayal of the silent suffering victim was so real and genuine that it felt like being in her shoes, and it was such a crappy, crappy feeling. Hurting yourself to keep the pain inside, putting on a mask pretending everything’s okay to hide the truth from yourself… it made me sad and angry for her. It hit the heart so fucking hard. Nobody deserves this kind of torture, nobody. Alexi felt like the embodiment of all the pent-up feelings victims of rape must go through and it was difficult to read. It was therefore an amazing experience seeing her finally standing up and facing the truth. Her coming out and trusting the people around her with the things she kept inside for so long was so beautiful that I cried with her, with them.

Bodee, on the other hand, was also an amazing character. Despite being a man of a few words, he was vital to Alexi’s journey as she was to his. Even though he’s the kind of guy who’d tell you the things you want to know through a glance or a small gesture, his presence was strong. I loved how he was so observant, caring, and kind. I loved how he tells a lot through his silence. It was so refreshing to finally see a male lead who speaks through his actions, who, despite having been traumatized himself, still find the strength to support other people. Have you ever seen such an amazing lead? A kind of guy who’d be willing to be strong for both of you if you can’t be strong for yourself? That’s Bodee for you.

Overall, this is truly a raw and poignant book whose painful journey will rip your heart to shreds but it is also a memorable book whose ending will leave you in tears with a smile on your face.. It’s a beautiful story of a girl and boy who, in their brokenness, find themselves supporting each other; a story of  the meaning of family, trust, friendship, and love – a love not only for others, but a love for oneself. It has everything you could ever ask for, and I’m telling you this is not a book to be missed.

GIVEAWAY

Because I (and Rashika, too!) loved this book so much, we are giving away copies of Faking Normal by Courtney Stevens. We are giving away ONE (1) ARC copy to a resident living in the Philippines, and ONE (1) Finished Copy to a US/CAN resident courtesy of the publisher (Thanks, HC!). 

Rules:
* You must be 13 years or older to enter.
* Once a winner has been announced, an e-mail will be sent. No reply within 48 hours will disqualify that entry and a new winner will be announced.
* The Social Potato and HarperCollins are not responsible for any losses or damaged goods.
* No cheating allowed.

US/CAN GIVEAWAY

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PHILIPPINE GIVEAWAY

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Faye

Faye

A 21 years old Filipina who loves books, games, languages, and most especially, food. Secretly wishes to be an astronaut so she can explore the stars. Has a love-hate relationship with Philippine politics. To get in her good graces, offer her Foie Gras, Or shrimp. Or a JRPG. A YA sci-fi book works, too. You can follow her on twitter here: @kawaiileena

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  1. Jeanne says

    I have never had to experience anything so bad that I would consider myself a victim. I am sure those that have would have a very hard time searching for answers. I only hope they would be able to get help and realize that it’s not their fault. Seek help and trust God to get your through.

  2. says

    Beautiful review Faye, just reading it makes my heart cry out for the characters in this book! Reading books with abuse, especially rape as a subject matter always terrifies me, it happens everyday and its heartbreaking how most of the victims feel ashamed, like its their fault that this has happened to them. That said, I am glad that there are books like this that gives you hope. I need to prepare myself to read this, but I definitely will. Thanks for bringing this to my attention!
    Amir recently posted…{Kindle Deal} K.F. Breene’s Growing Pains Series for .99 + Giveaway!My Profile

  3. says

    “Usually, when I finish a book, I think about it, write a review, fangirl a bit and then move on to the next one in tow.” lols, same here. I’m so sad I didn’t request this, but I’ll get to read it soon:) In every review, just as you, people point out how real this book feels. GIMME THE FEELS!!! I love me some kind nd caring love interests and everyone just can’t seem to shut up about Bodee. Cannot wait to meet him:) Gorgeous review, Faye!
    Siiri recently posted…Review: The Temptation of Lila and Ethan by Jessica SorensenMy Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      Absolutely! The positive feedback are all well-deserved, imo. I don’t usually read them either, and it’s hard for me to really feel for fictional characters with these things since experiences in the real world are far more real, but the author had this awesome voice that just made everything genuine. Love this one to death ><

  4. says

    Oh my gosh! This sounds absolutely heart-breaking! What a beautiful review though, Faye! I feel like bursting into tears just from simply reading this review! I’ve heard a lot about this particular novel, and I don’t think I’ve even read a single negative review about it! The characterization and the romance definitely sound like they’re top-notch, and that’s always great!

    I think I’m going to give myself a little time to emotionally prepare myself for this, but I’ll definitely give it a read. Thanks for another fabulous, heart-felt review Faye! :D
    Zoe @ The Infinite To-Read Shelf recently posted…UninvitedMy Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      OMG, you’re so hitting the nail on the head! It took me mooooooooonths, even a YEAR, to write a review for Blood Song, which is probably my most favorite book of all time. It’s feels like whatever singing praise you give, it just does not give the awesome experience justice!

  5. says

    Yay, I’m glad that you loved this book so much! I’ve been seeing positive reviews for this one everywhere, so I’m definitely going to be trying to read it soon. Poignant and emotional stories are so heartbreaking but at the same time so reflective. When you get into a character like Alexi’s head and really explore what it’s like to cope with rape, it must be so hard to deal and even worse than just hearing about it. Sometimes the best books are the hardest to read, especially with such a underrated topic like rape culture and the act in general! Fantastic review, Faye! <33
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  6. says

    Faye, what a gorgeous review! I’m so happy to hear that you loved this as much as I did. Rape is a topic that I think makes most women’s blood boil, so I complete get your feelings for this book, because I experienced similar emotions.
    The author did a fabulous job at portraying Alexi. And Bodee! <3 I love that you talked about how his silence would speak to her. That was one thing that really touched me throughout the book. Lovely review, Faye!
    Nick @ Nick’s Book Blog recently posted…The Object of My Affection #2My Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      I wish there were more heroes/male leads/love interests like Bodee. Sometimes we all just need a reassuring glance and a pat on the back

  7. says

    I’ve heard a lot of great things about this one, can’t wait to get my hands on it (: This book sounds like something I would love, and the fact it created a long lasting emotional impact on you is making me want to read Faking Normal even more. I think your review totally did the book justice, as I reaaaaalllly want this one now. Haha, hopefully luck is on my side with this giveaway[;

    Fantastic review!
    Larissa recently posted…Review: Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. JensenMy Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      Yaaay! Nothing gives a book blogger more happiness than making you want to read a book after their review! :D I hope you win as well!!

  8. says

    This is such a gorgeous review Faye! I normally have to write my reviews straight after I finish a book, but I agree with you this was such a difficult book to write a review for, but you have pretty much nailed how awesome of a job Stevens has done with this book. I adored the journey that we got to experience with Bodee and Alexi and the amazing friend that Alexi was able to find in Bodee. I agree that this will remain a memorable read for many months to come!
    Jasprit recently posted…Review: Anything to Have You by Paige HarbisonMy Profile

  9. says

    I wonder what will blow up after my comment today! *pokes comment screen*

    I just finished this one yesterday and it was a fantastic book! I also felt like I Was in her shoes her pain and self blame was so genuine and she was so easy to connect to! And BODEE! “It was so refreshing to finally see a male lead who speaks through his actions” You could NOT have said it any better! We need more male characters like him in YA, imo! And I have been craving Kool Aid ever since LOL! So happy you enjoyed this one it’s really an important book that touches on such an often misconstrued topic! Lovely review, doll!
    Giselle recently posted…Review: The Winner’s Curse by Marie RutkoskiMy Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      *snort* It’s funny that we don’t feel safe even in commenting now!

      Yeah, the self-blame was hard to take in. I thought to myself if this is what other rape victims go through, and when I try to put myself in their shoes, I can’t help but want to cry sometimes >_< It must be so hard! Thanks, Giselle!

  10. says

    Ahhh I LOVED Bodee. He was such a great character- I feel like there aren’t too many love interests in contemporary YA quite like him. He was so interesting to read about!
    And Alexi too- her journey was so poignant. Gosh, I really want to reread the book after reading your review!
    Nara recently posted…Review: Death Sworn by Leah CypessMy Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      Awww <3 Bodee really was a great character. I wish there are more like him. Sometimes we don't need to be loud to send our messages across.

    • FayeFaye says

      They are! We need more books that tackle important social issues, not only to portray their suffering and make it relatable to us, but to inform and raise awareness as well.

  11. says

    I honestly love reading books with dark themes. The last book I’ve read that has the same theme was Going Under and just like what Faking Normal did to you, it left something in me after I finished reading it. I love that the characters seem tangible and does the words through actions.
    Charlie recently posted…Book Blitz: Almost Bad Boys (Giveaway)My Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      Yeah, there are similarities in them, and the voice is kind of the same, too. I hope you love it, Lyn!

  12. says

    Really wonderful review. This is one of those books that I am sure I will be reading at some point, but like you, it’s a subject that really makes me so angry and upset, therefore I have been waiting until I feel like I am ready to read it. I am glad that this book seems like it tackled the difficult subject matter the right way and truly showed the way the victims feel about what has happened to them.
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