My feelings towards this book are a little cloudy.
Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall follows Norah, a seventeen-year-old girl with severe obsessive compulsive disorder and agoraphobia. Norah spends her entire life in her house, only venturing outdoors for weekly meetings with her psychiatrist. When a cute new boy moves in next door, Norah fears her mental illnesses will prevent them from forming a relationship.
I remember seeing Under Rose-Tainted Skies a lot when it was first released, but I couldn’t really remember most people’s thoughts towards this book. However, I decided to pick this book up anyway after I went into my library looking for another book that included a character with obsessive compulsive, but they did not have it. As a result, I went in this book with only a vague idea have the plot. After reading this book, there were aspects that I liked but also aspects that I believed needed improvement.
I think the strongest aspect of this book is its portrayal of mental illness. In the author’s note, Gornall explains that she struggled with mental illness in similar ways to the main character. As a result, I believe both obsessive compulsive disorder and agoraphobia are both authentically represented within this book.
That being said, there are several aspects in which Norah’s mental illnesses are used that I did not enjoy. While I think the author tried to stay away from the “love cures mental illness” trope, I do believe this was used to a degree within this book especially in the end during Norah’s recovery. Additionally, I didn’t care for the situation (unrelated to the love interest) that forced Norah to confront her mental illness. Without giving away any spoilers, I felt like this particular scene didn’t fit in with the rest of the book and took away from the realistic quality to this book.
As for the characters, I didn’t love them or hate them. Norah is a similar character to many books with the same them with her somewhat sarcastic personality. Luke, her love interest, is pretty nice, but unremarkable. Additionally, his other somewhat-love interest is a cardboard cutout character tat personally did add much for me to the plot. The final other big character in the novel, Norah’s mom, was okay but her actions often confused me and felt inconsistent for the way the author wanted to portray her. For example, readers are told Norah’s mom sacrifices her career for her daughter, however, she goes on a lengthy business trip during particularly stressful time for Norah.
I also had mixed feelings towards the plot and pacing in this book. This book wasn’t extremely long (I think it was almost three hundred pages), but it took me awhile to read. The plot moved fairly slow and not much happened until the last thirty pages or so of the book. That being said, when the action picked up, it felt out of place and inconsistent with the rest of the book as I mentioned earlier.
Overall, Under Rose-Tainted Skies isn’t an awful book by any means, but it also wasn’t one of my favorite books of the year. For me, it needed a little something extra with the characters or plot to make it stand out more. I give this book three out of five stars.