When I first started this book, it reminded me of Everything, Everything. Except in this story, it is not the Mother keeping the daughter inside the house; its 17-year-old Norah, whose crippling anxiety has made it impossible for her to leave.
There is a lot to come to grips with in this book. Norah suffers from a multitude of fears and phobias, brought on by agoraphobia and OCD. Luckily, she lives with a compassionate, loving mother with unflinching patience, and a caring doctor who caters to Norah’s changing needs. Of course, it is Luke, the new boy next-door (an overdone plotline, maybe, but it still works for me) who makes Norah rethink her world, and, in the same way, Luke’s worldview changes dramatically because of her.
It is not all sunshine and lollipops when Luke moves in, however. While the intense drama that followed later bordered on the implausible for me, I understood the necessity of the device to allow Norah to come to grips with her life. Despite the implicit danger the author contrives, in some respects I thought, ah, if it were only this easy.
I like that this is almost an ordinary teen romance; while it is an important theme, mental illness is only one of the facts of Norah’s life, not her whole story. Instead, this is a story about two new friends getting to know one another and finding their place in the world, and it is told with empathy, compassion, and grace.