Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

Monday, 14 August 2017

Agoraphobia confines Norah to the house she shares with her mother.

For her, the outside is sky glimpsed through glass, or a gauntlet to run between home and car. But a chance encounter on the doorstep changes everything: Luke, her new neighbour. Norah is determined to be the girl she thinks Luke deserves: a ‘normal’ girl, her skies unfiltered by the lens of mental illness. Instead, her love and bravery opens a window to unexpected truths...

Where do I even start with this little gem? It's difficult to say, as there are so many things I want to talk about and rave about and shout to the heavens about. This is the book I've been waiting for and I cannot express how much I needed it and connected with it. If only it had been around when I first started struggling with my own mental health, as I feel like it would have made things so much more bearable.

This isn't a perfect book, but mental illness isn't perfect either. It's raw, real, and doesn't shy away from the truth, which is so much more important. It tackles anxiety, OCD, agoraphobia, and self harm head on, taking no prisoners and making no apologies. Is it hard to read? Maybe, depending on your levels of sensitivity and how easily triggered you are. Is it important? Fuck yes.

Under Rose-Tainted Skies follows Norah, a teen trapped in her own home by her own overactive brain. Everything is a danger to her, even if it's harmless, and even the simplest of tasks are monumental to her. Such is the life of someone suffering from multiple species of anxiety disorder. Agoraphobia means she cannot walk down the driveway to collect groceries, as the world is an accident waiting to happen. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder means she cannot take an odd number of steps, as balance will be disrupted. Anxiety is a cruel mistress, sucking the joy put of everything and replacing it with a bone-crunching, throat-squeezing, stomach-churning fear. It's an incredibly hard experience to describe, but somehow this book captures it, bottles it, and tells it how it is.

The writing throughout is fairly simple, and the chapters are short so it's easy to fly through this. That doesn't mean it loses any of its impact, however. The stark nature of Norah's disorders jump off the page in contrast to the writing style, making it that much more harrowing. There's no flowery language used in an attempt to disguise the reality of living with mental illness, just truth. Which isn't always pretty.

Norah's relationship with Luke, however, is all sunshine and roses despite her illness, which I found to be lovely. Okay, it's probably more sunshine on a rainy day and wilted roses as they're both awkward and stumbling along, but each wants the best for the other. Luke is careful with her, wanting to learn more about her illness but not wrapping her in cotton wool. Norah doesn't want to stop Luke from having a normal life and - the best part - she's still ill. He doesn't come along and fix her, doesn't wipe away her anxieties and make it so that she can leave the house no problem. She still struggles, but she struggles with another person there to support her. I can't explain how refreshing and realistic it is to see romance not curing a mental illness.

This book was a roller coaster for me: I adore it's honesty. I connect with Norah perhaps more than I should. It made me feel anxious at times. It made me smile. It made me realise hope is out there. All you need to do is give it a chance.

So go on. Give this book a chance. I'm sure you won't regret it.


  1. what a great review Charlotte, i shall have to look into this one.

  2. I've heard nothing but great things about this book, so I am so glad you enjoyed it so much as well! It sounds like such a powerful but relevant story. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! <3

    1. I can honestly say that it's worth all the hype. And it's a super quick read so even if you find that it's not quite for you, there's not much time wasted :)

  3. I love it when you find that book that just *clicks*! This is on my epically long TBR since sooo many people have recced it to me :)

    (Speaking of books that click, *slides Something Beautiful by Armanda Gernantz-Hanson across metaphorical table* (I will never stop pushing that book on people.))

    1. I recommend that you bump it to the top of your TBR! If you can. And if you want to, of course :P And I'll have to look into Something Beautiful - don't think I've heard of it!


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