In UNDER ROSE-TAINTED SKIES, Norah is house-bound because of her agoraphobia and steps out of her comfort zone when she develops a crush on Luke, the cute boy next door.
What intrigued me: I've been looking for more mental illness #ownvoices stories because I've been disappointed with books by authors who don't write from their own experiences lately.
Compelling story and lovely protagonist
UNDER ROSE-TAINTED SKIES is a very quiet story of a girl with OCD, agoraphobia, anxiety, and depression. It's definitely unlike anything I've ever read before, because it absolutely does focus on Norah's struggle with her illnesses while telling a compelling story that you'll surely grow very fond of. From her daily struggles and little things she needs to check periodically to her crippling fear of other things and her reaction when confronted with them, UNDER ROSE-TAINTED SKIES shows the full spectrum of Norah's illnesses and tells the story in an honest and compelling way.
It absolutely shows that Gornall knows what she's talking about. I've never read anything like this. Protagonist Norah is so lovely and adorable that can only get invested in her story even if you don't share her mental illnesses. Gornall doesn't shy away from anything and describes Norah's life in such a brutally honest matter that it's awe-inspiring.
Mental illness without romanticization
The thing I love most about UNDER ROSE-TAINTED SKIES is how unapologetic and honest it is. It's not a love story, not a fun contemporary, not a coming-of-age story, it's just a novel about a girl with mental illnesses and her daily life, with a side of a little romance. If you're looking for a typical YA romance story, this is the wrong pick. UNDER ROSE-TAINTED SKIES feels a little literary and different, just completely unique and very much delightfully so.
The side romance actually is what I was scared about the most because I feared this might venture into romanticization as so so so many other novels about mental illnesses do. The protagonist falls in love and suddenly they're cured.
That's absolutely not what UNDER ROSE-TAINTED SKIES does. It does quite the opposite of romanticization actually by having the love interest Luke seek to understand Norah's illnesses and not trying to change a single thing about her. They're such an adorable couple and it's so refreshing to read a love story involving a sick character who doesn't change a single thing about themselves to be with their partner.
Overall: Do I Recommend?This is the kind of story I'm hoping many people with illnesses will pick up. It's so heart-warming to see a story like that and I can just whole-heartedly recommend UNDER ROSE-TAINTED SKIES to everyone who's either living with similar mental illnesses and/or seeks to read and understand what life for people with these illnesses might look like. UNDER ROSE-TAINTED skies is bold, daring, and beautiful. Give it a shot.
Note: Trigger warning for self-harm
Publisher: Clarion Books
Genre: YA / Contemporary
"Norah has agoraphobia and OCD. When groceries are left on the porch, she can’t step out to get them. Struggling to snag the bags with a stick, she meets Luke. He’s sweet and funny, and he just caught her fishing for groceries. Because of course he did.
Norah can’t leave the house, but can she let someone in? As their friendship grows deeper, Norah realizes Luke deserves a normal girl. One who can lie on the front lawn and look up at the stars. One who isn’t so screwed up. "(Source: Goodreads)