Finding Audrey is Sophie Kinsella’s (of Shopaholic fame) first foray into the world YA literature.
14 year old Audrey is recovering from an anxiety disorder. Whilst the reader knows that an incident at school sparked Audrey’s illness, crucially the details of the incident aren’t revealed. Rather, the focus is on Audrey, her recovery … and her hilarious family.
Audrey wears glasses to protect herself from the world, she rarely ventures out the house … the only exception being visits to her therapist Dr Sarah. Whilst Audrey’s relationship with Dr Sarah is a tentative one, Audrey decides to take on board Dr Sarah’s suggestion that she makes a documentary,
‘Just point the camera and shoot. Your house. The people in your house. Paint a portrait of your family.’ Audrey calls it ‘My Serene and Loving Family.’
The irony of this title will not be lost on the reader having just enjoyed one of the funniest opening scenes to a novel I’ve encountered. Picture the scene … Daily Mail obsessed Mum is hanging out the window with her eldest son’s computer in her arms and ‘a wild look in her eye.’ Having recently read ‘The Eight Signs Your Child is Addicted To Computer Games’ in said paper, she’s about to take very decisive action. Dad’s concern fear is that his beloved car is just below the window, 4 year old Felix is filled with ‘disbelieving joy’ and the neighbours are more than amused by the whole event!
As the novel progresses Kinsella ensures Audrey’s road to recovery is not unrealistically straight forward, it is not wrapped up neatly either. Both elements are crucial in approaching mental illness honestly, and with understanding. Kinsella has achieved a great balance in Finding Audrey. Her trademark humour is brilliantly interspersed throughout the pages whilst maintaining respect for the main topic – this is principally due to the fact that it is Audrey’s family who are the wonderful source of humour.
Finding Audrey is a candid yet warm look at hectic family life through the eyes of a teenager dealing with a mental illness. Kinsella pitches it just right.
‘It all begins with the Daily Mail. Quite a lot of things in our house begin with the Daily Mail.’