„Finding Audrey“ by Sophie Kinsella
An anxiety disorder disrupts fourteen-year-old Audrey’s daily life. She has been making slow but steady progress with Dr. Sarah, but when Audrey meets Linus, her brother’s gaming teammate, she is energized. She connects with him. Audrey can talk through her fears with Linus in a way she’s never been able to do with anyone before. As their friendship deepens and her recovery gains momentum, a sweet romantic connection develops, one that helps not just Audrey but also her entire family.
First of all let me say this: the thing about this book that I had the most trouble with, is this synopsis. This book is not about Linus, or Audrey and Linus and how they instantly fall in love and her social anxiety is fixed. No. So if you’ve read this synopsis and thought it was going to be that, it is not. And you should read „Finding Audrey“ immediately.
Because the thing is, you are one of two people. Either you are Audrey, somebody coping or struggling with some form of social anxiety or general anxiety (that would be me!) or you know someone like Audrey. You know, that quiet girl that doesn’t like to make eye contact, doesn’t say much even when you approach her, and generally shies away from any kind of social interaction? She is probably struggling with social anxiety. And you are probably talking about her behind her back, gossiping, and making it worse for her by the minute.
Too many people don’t understand what social anxiety is, or how it works. That it’s not just something you can shrug off, that it takes a lot of effort to find the courage to come talk to you, or ask you something or to even look at you, if you are not one of the few comfort people. And that right after, our lizard brain is probably buzzing, „catastrophizing“ our conversation, picking apart all the things that were said and weren’t said, but should have been said.
Why is eye contact so hard? Why can you write notes/letters/emails, but not talk to me? Why don’t you go out with us and our new friends at the weekend? Why don’t you come to this social gathering from our work place? It’s all really hard to explain.
Sophie Kinsella does an amazing job of showing these things through Audrey, and how she struggles to do things that might seem ordinary to you, going to Starbucks for example. Or saying hello to her brother’s friends. The relationship she develops with Linus is beautiful, and might seem like insta-love, but Audrey does go through a lot of internal struggle thanks to Linus too. And the way that he approaches her anxiety… well, I might have fallen in love with him too.
The actual plot, Audrey getting the task to record a video diary, seems kind of unimportant against the backdrop of her struggles. The stereotypical parents, the weird computer game competition subplot or that certain plot points are never revealed might have bothered me in any other book. But in „Finding Audrey“ they are just background noise to a perfect book about a girl struggling with social anxiety. I really enjoyed it, and I think it could be an important read for people struggling with social anxiety even a little bit. Or for those who don’t, but really want to understand the people who do.