Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Just Another Book Crush (#12): Faking Normal by Courtney Stevens

Just Another...Book Crush! is a monthly feature where I invite an author whose book I've recently reviewed and loved to write a guest post and share their three latest book crushes. It's a feature I'm starting mostly because I'm often very shy to approach authors, especially ones I admire, and also because I love reading guest posts since, more often than not, they convince me to pick up a book even when the reviewer cannot. 

I'm so excited to have Courtney Stevens, the debut author of Faking Normal, joining us today! I unexpectedly received an ARC of Faking Normal and despite knowing next-to-nothing about the novel, the author, or the subject matter, I decided to give it a shot. As readers know, Contemporary YA is not always my genre of choice. Yet, this novel completely surpassed my expectations and I fell head-over-heels in love with its story, its message, and most of all, its strides within its genre. I only hope other readers will too. 
Alexi Littrell hasn't told anyone what happened to her over the summer. Ashamed and embarrassed, she hides in her closet and compulsively scratches the back of her neck, trying to make the outside hurt more than the inside does. When Bodee Lennox, the quiet and awkward boy next door, comes to live with the Littrells, Alexi discovers an unlikely friend in "the Kool-Aid Kid," who has secrets of his own. As they lean on each other for support, Alexi gives him the strength to deal with his past, and Bodee helps her find the courage to finally face the truth.

The Questions People Ask!

Over the last six months, people have contacted me through twitter, email and Facebook and asked a variety of questions. I thought I might cull the most popular ones for this post.

1.      Is Faking Normal true?

It’s an interesting question to be asked. I don’t blame people for asking, but it feels like the question under the question is a serious one. Have you been raped? That’s not only serious; it’s personal. Deeply personal. It was a question my friends prepared me for, and you would think the very nature and topic of my book would prepare me for. But honestly, I wrote, got an agent, and sold a book about rape before I ever realized I WROTE A BOOK ABOUT RAPE. What?!?! I didn’t exactly mean to do that. So the question still feels as if I’m standing naked in front of the world.

Here is my answer. The statistics say 1 in every 3 women has experienced sexual abuse by the age of 18. That statistic is staggering to me; staggering to me as survivor. I am not Alexi. Faking Normal isn’t “true,” but I am well-acquainted with Alexi’s pain. And my story, this is it in a nutshell: I believe there is hope on the other side of pain.

2.      Where did Bodee come from?

Following a difficult season in my life, an old friend came back into my life as a new friend. He was safe, and kind, and loved me in a powerful way.

While the character of Bodee is fictional in his circumstances, I tried to give all the safety my friend offered me to Bodee.

3.      What gave you the idea for the conversations on the desk?

I am not in favor of defacing school property, but I was at 16. (In pencil.) This is a true little snippet from life. I didn’t have a romance with the guy. He was just a friend who sat at my desk in the period after mine and we were in love with Hotel California. (So many lyrics.) On a dark deserted highway, cool wind in my hair … That’s how it started. If you have something that rich in your life, you have to work it into a novel.

4.      Will Bodee and Alexi’s story continue?

Never say never, but no. Although there is a world of story for them to live, I’d like to leave them on the page where they are and let the reader take if from here. There are many hard, hard things left for Alexi to face. I’d rather not put her through that in front of the world.

I can promise you that Bodee isn’t going anywhere. I don’t know that these two will “grow up and get married,” but they will always, always, always love and protect each other.

5.      Why did you choose to write about such sensitive topics?

I didn’t mean to.

I had an image of teenage-me crying in her closet, and I wanted to write a book for her. In developing that story, in trying to whisper, “Things will get better,” to her, the rest of the story emerged. These characters came walking into my life with weights on their shoulders, and I tried between page one and the page last, to say, “Hey, let me help you with that.”

You can read my thoughts on Faking Normal HERE. Seriously, if you haven't already added this one to your TBRs then get on it ASAP. It's worth the read, many times over.


  1. EEEP! I loved Faking Normal, and I'm so happy that you were able to get Courtney to share some answers, Keertana! I wish Alexi and Bodee had another story to share. :-) And that's so cool that the lyrics on a table is true!! Thanks so much for sharing, Courtney & Keertana!

  2. Wonderful post Keertana!! Now you've got me all interested in Faking Normal. Courtney's answers were heartfelt and wonderful. I loved Courtney's snippet about desk conversation. Can't wait to get my hands on Faking Normal (:

  3. I like that you wanted to write a story like that. Cos yes those teen years

  4. Oh wow! This book seems like a really powerful read. I haven't read much on this topic, but this post certainly perks my interest in this book! It sounds like a painful yet full of hope contemporary that I'm going to really love. :)

    Thank you for sharing with us, Courtney and Keertana! :)

  5. Of the four authors I met at Story Crush, Courtney's words about her story were the most moving. And clearly the most personal. I could tell so much the care she placed in her story, especially in wanting to creating safety for Alexi and Bodee, and for giving them each other for support. I actually wasn't going to read this book before I went to the event, because I avoid these "the thing that happened that night at party" books. BUT I completely changed my mind after hearing her talk and just finished this book last night. It was tough, but beautiful. Thanks for this interview. You know I love these posts.

  6. Awwww, this was such a sweet and very powerful guest post/interview. I love her answers and I love the author as herself even more. :) Thanks for the wonderful opportunity to get to know the writer behind this powerful book, Keertana! And to you lovely author, thank you for writing <3

    Faye @ The Social Potato

  7. A GREAT interview. Not only does this book tackle a difficult subject but it's deeply personal to the author, too. I definitely have a couple of students in mind who would love this book.

  8. Courtney's interview was really just.... it overwhelmed me. I am really glad she decided to put this story out there for all of us to read and fall in love with. It was beautiful and worth every second I spent reading it.

    Also I am really glad Bodee won't be leaving anytime soon :) I mean I knew he wouldn't, it's just reassuring to hear that from the author as well.

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us Keertana!!!

    Rashika @ The Social Potato

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  10. I've heard so many amazing things about this book Keertana, I can't wait to finally experience it for myself. I'm clearly going to need to have tissues on hand (and most likely quite a bit of chocolate), but as painful as this story sounds, I love what she said about hope:)

  11. I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed this book, Keertana! I interviewed Courtney, too, and she is a sweetheart. And her answers to these questions are so thought-out and beautiful. I must get to reading FN soon!

  12. Somehow just by reading her answers I feel like I'm going to love it. I have seen Faking Normal around but like you YA contemporary stories are hardly ever my first choice. I must get to this one. Great story about hard issues are always my fave when it comes to contemporary. Great interview, Keertana :)

  13. What a great interview. As hard as it is to say what is extremely personal, I would say that I believe that it would help girls in the same situation even more. I think it's because she would know that you didn't just research it, but you understand in a way no one else would. Also, with statistics like that, we ALL know at least one (most likely more) who has gone though this terrible ordeal.

  14. What a wonderful interview! I put this on my TBR pile after reading your beautiful review, and it is so wonderful to hear how these characters came to be. I can't wait to read this! Thanks for sharing :-)

  15. What a beautiful post! This makes me want to run out and buy a copy of Faking Normal ASAP! I applaud the courage it took to write a novel like this and share some personal pain, but this sounds like a story that gives hope as well. Lovely post! :)

  16. I really need to read this book, I love how realistic it sounds and it deals with a very deep subject.

  17. I've been thinking about reading Faking Normal, but I wasn't convinced that I'd like it after reading only blurb.
    Courtney answers are awesome - I used to have "chats on desk" with my friend all the time. :)

  18. Put this on request at the library and I'm really looking forward to reading it!
    Jen @ YA Romantics

  19. Wow! Just wow! I only had a vague idea of what this story was about and wasn't drawn to it, but now that I know the full extent of it, I'm annoyed with myself. Why didn't I do a little more research? This is personal and powerful. Dark and hopeful. Faking Normal is an example; it's the type of story that needs to be read, discussed, and shared by all. Because as Stevens so eloquently wrote, "there is hope on the other side of pain," and that's an important message to learn --for anybody. Thank you for this post Ms. Stevens, and thank you for sharing, Keertana! I'll have to make time for Faking Normal and soon.

    Marlene @ The Flyleaf Review


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