“You have all these fears, your body endures all this pain and heartache, but you keep going. I think that’s really brave.”- Luke, Under Rose-Tainted Skies
*I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Synopsis via Goodreads: 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.Readers themselves will fall in love with Norah in this poignant, humorous, and deeply engaging portrait of a teen struggling to find the strength to face her demons.
Under Rose-Tainted Skies is an own-voices debut novel that had initially caught my attention with its beautiful cover, but after reading the synopsis, I knew I needed to meet Norah and find out more about her.
Under Rose-Tainted Skies follows our main character, Norah Dean, and her daily struggles with agoraphobia and OCD. Norah spends most of her days at home watching the outside world through drawn curtains and only ever leaving to attend her weekly therapy sessions. But when her mom leaves for a business trip, she finds herself in a situation that requires her to step outside. There she meets Luke, her new neighbor, who becomes intrigued by Norah and decides to befriend her. But fear of being judged keeps Norah from letting Luke in and leads her to wonder if it will ever be possible for her let someone in.
Under Rose-Tainted Skies has got to be one of the sweetest and quirkiest YA novels I’ve read this year. While this book heavily focuses on mental illness, there still a few moments of laughter and fun. I loved Gornall’s simplistic writing style and how accurate and detailed agoraphobia and OCD were depicted. Gornall does not miss even the tiniest detail and I liked that. One of the messages that stuck with me throughout this book is that not all illnesses are visible. Some go much deeper, but even though we may not be able to see it, doesn’t mean we can’t empathize and try to understand how that person is feeling. I also enjoyed Norah’s relationship with her mother and how strong a bond they had.
Norah is quite the character and I absolutely adored reading her story. She has a powerful voice and you can definitely feel her emotions and her struggles. There were numerous times where Norah broke down when she was alone and those were probably the hardest parts to read for me, but they were also real and filled with raw emotion and we needed to see all the parts of Norah in order to truly understand what she was going through. What I appreciated most about this book was the fact that the romance didn’t overpower the story. Luke was not the “cure” to Norah’s illness and in no way did he fix her, but rather he was supportive and was there for her. Seriously though, these two were really adorable and I loved their nerdy banter.
I did have a few minor issues with this book, one being with the ending. I felt like it was a bit rushed towards the end with the minor conflict that came out of left field and I kind of felt like the ending was a bit abrupt. The second thing was that I wish Luke’s character was more developed. He too had his own family issues and I wish that would’ve been explored too as it could’ve added to the plot.
Under Rose-Tainted Skies was a realistic and powerful own-voices debut novel that needs to be added to everyone’s TBR. This book is as beautiful on the inside as it is on the outside and we definitely need more stories like Norah’s to be told.