REVIEW: Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens

We’re now on the 3rd week of April, and for me that means another SAAM UPDATE! In case you missed it, SAAM stands for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. And to support the cause, I’m reading SAAM-related books.

Last week I posted a review of Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott. Often labelled as disturbing, this is a story of a girl named “Alice”, now 15, who was abducted when she was 10 years old and has been sexually and physically abused since then.

Today, I’m sharing my review of yet another captivating read: Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens.

If you’re looking for books to read to support the cause, look no more because you can find a list here.


Faking Normal, #1

Publication Date: February 25th 2014 by HarperTeen
Genres: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Abuse
Number of Pages: 336
My Rating: ★★★★★

Amazon // Book Depository // iBooks


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.

Just when you thought you can stomach another book about abuse, Faking Normal comes along and yells in your face, “whatchUthinkin’?”

Something is hiding in my childhood. Something off.

I’ve been wanting to read this book for some time now. My friends and trusted reviewers loved it, so I got myself a copy for my birthday last year and it has been sitting on my shelf since then. I was kind of hesitant at first because it seems like another book about a victim, needing a boy to recuperate, but no. It wasn’t like that. I never thought this book was anything like it actually is. It is terrifyingly real.

I always have a hard time writing reviews for books I love because it might get repetitive and pointless especially when you have nothing negative to comment. But in my hopes of helping victims heal, I’m doing this.

Faking Normal is everything I needed realistic fiction to be. It follows the story of Alexi, a victim of sexual abuse, who has kept the secret sacred to herself and only herself. To cope with her pain, she scratches the back of her neck, “trying to make the outside hurt more than the inside.”

It’s one of those books that just stays with you and keeps you awake until 4 in the morning (at least in my case). It is indeed haunting. The author handled a sensitive topic very well, and I commend her for that. The character development was incredible and there was not a single page wasted. I’d say all characters and their stories were relevant and not only made for plot devices. They’re out there. They’re real people with real stories. They could be your friends or they could be you.

What makes this book special is the way it delivers an important message. I’ve seen reviews that are just plain disgusting, judging Alexi for not saying “No”. Traumatic incidents can make people freeze up and not be able to speak for themselves. Being unable to speak or not saying No is the same as not giving consent. If you think the same, then I feel sorry for you, because you’re just as disgusting as those abusers for blaming the victim.

This book aims to make other people understand what it’s like inside the mind and body of a victim, like why it’s never easy to just say it. These victims suffer from self-blaming and assumed embarrassment. They do not want to be pitied, do not want to be that person, do not want to speak because, hell, ‘What am I supposed to do? It already happened.’

This book would also help victims find their voice and forgive themselves. It was never your fault. 

I also really love that romance wasn’t the center of this book. Yes, all throughout the book you’d want Alexi and Bodee to just be together already, but it’s not as simple as that. This book shows two broken people finding comfort in each other. Would I say it’s a love story? Yes. The love that is often difficult to gain: the love for oneself.

A perfect mix of romance, drama, and mystery. I definitely recommend it.



4 thoughts on “REVIEW: Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens

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