Norah’s house is her whole world. She suffers from agoraphobia and venturing past her front door is terrifying for her. Her single mother and her therapist are pretty much the only people she interacts with until a chance encounter on her doorstep. A new family has moved in next door and their son is determined to befriend Norah.

Pins and needles. Red-hot. All over my body. I twist my fingers into knots, can feel the steep decline of a shame spiral tugging at my ankles.

Norah’s OCD and accompanying anxiety has kept her confined to her house and Under Rose Tainted Skies puts agoraphobia into context with other mental illnesses. Anyone with anxiety has had days where they have been reluctant to leave their home, fearing all the bad things that could happen. Norah’s mind has trapped her, her thoughts making outside a place where she is not safe. This is the extreme but entirely relatable.

Her narrative highlight how her thought processes work. She’s an intelligent and kind girl beneath her illness. She worries how she has affected her single mom’s life. Her worrying isn’t just confined to herself. She’s obsessed with worst case scenarios, can see how dangerous everything in the world can be, to the point where she’s been banned from watching the news.

The story isn’t about her going on any adventure and even the boy moving in next door doesn’t feel like a typical romance, more the blossoming of a friendship. I would have been annoyed if it were a love conquers everything sort of story, but it’s more how having a good friend who is willing to learn, understand and be patient is a huge part of getting better.

Suddenly the only thing I want to know about kissing is how much bacteria there is in saliva.

Yeah, Luke might seem too good to be true but wouldn’t the world be a better place if there were more young people who were that kind and considerate. Some teens do have a huge capacity for compassion and empathy that we probably don’t give them credit for. Probably more than some hardened adults.

Such a moving tale and my heart went out to Norah who comes to realise she wants the same things as other girls her age. That she has a reason to get better, even if it’s hard work.

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Book Source: Purchased