Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens
When we first meet Alexi, she is at the funeral of her mother’s best friend. Alexi knows the son because he goes to her school and is known as “the kool-aid kid:” an unkempt, seemingly uncaring student. Every single morning he colors his hair with kool-aid so it is never normal.
During the funeral, Alexi thinks, “But this is always what he’ll go back to: No Mom. That’s a forever change. I never understood life could be so dramatically sectioned, but it can. And is. There is only after. And before. My moment was by the pool, Bodee’s is by the casket.”
Readers slowly get clues about what happened at the pool. Alexi can’t talk about it, but whatever it is causes her to continually scratch her neck, smell chlorine in lots of places, hide in her closet, and ultimately hurt herself. When Bodee comes to live with them, he immediately sees through Alexi's "normal" façade. Slowly they develop a relationship, and Bodee reveals his own secret. Both are faking being normal.
Of course Alexi was raped, (any reader will intuit that), and most readers will be able to discern who the rapist was. The crux of the book is really how any teen would handle a rape. Alexi blames herself, makes excuses for the rapist. As teens react to Alexi’s choices, adults hope that teens also understand how to react if something like this happens to them or to a friend. This was a good read, and while the book is perhaps not the most lyrically written, it is an important subject to keep teens talking about.
As with many recent books, there is a playlist of songs throughout the book. Music is important to both Alexi and Bodee, and music has power.
Recommended 8th grade up
bullying, child abuse, cussing, death, drinking, grieving , kissing, rape