Under Rose-Tainted Skies is one of the best portrayals of mental illness I have ever read. We jump right into the life of Norah, a seventeen-year-old suffering from agoraphobia and severe OCD, and I connected with her almost immediately. She’s got a great internal dialogue going that really allowed me to live her life alongside her, balancing her emotions and the effects of her illness perfectly. I was overwhelmed at times by what was going on with her, but only in the best possible [re: most enlightening] way.
This book reminded me a lot of both Nicola Yoon’s Everything Everything (girl who can’t leave her house for medical reasons, cute next door neighbor boy who makes girl want to change her life, single mother who fills the role of best friend and caretaker effortlessly, etc.) and Elly Swartz’ Finding Perfect (girl suffering from severe OCD, which develops suddenly and leaves girl feeling helpless, strange, and alienated from the world). Both of those are favorites of mine, and Under Rose-Tainted Skies fits right in with them, and will definitely be joining them on my shelves now
That isn’t to say that this was in any way a copy or an exact replica of either of the aforementioned titles. Where Everything Everything was much more breaking free of external constraints to experience the world, I felt like Norah’s journey is more about escaping the bonds of internal constraints in order to live a less fearful life. Norah’s life is much more fear-centric than Maddy’s was. Norah’s life has a much more illness-based drive, and I really enjoyed exploring that element and gaining a better understanding of what living with her condition would be like.
And where Finding Perfect focuses more on the cataclysmic event that developing OCD can be, Norah has been suffering from severe OCD for around four years by the time her story begins. Therefore, we get to see a lot more of the ins and outs of daily life living with OCD, as well as the coping mechanisms and treatments she uses to try and regulate it.
As for the romantic element, I really loved Luke, and thought he was just the cutest freaking guy on the planet. Norah totally deserved someone as understanding and wonderful as he is. If anything, their relationship would have been so strange for someone who doesn’t suffer from any mental health issues, but even when things are intense Luke is just like, “Okay, let’s roll with this and keep moving forward” which made me respect him so much and basically AHKASDHFASJLHDFLKA him forever. Yes, I am aware that I stopped using real words. No, I will not apologize. If you read this book you will understand what I mean. He’s just… No words. None.
So, if you’re looking for a book that actually does a great service to the world of disability-lit, this is definitely the 2017 release you should be picking up.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars