Completely Normal (and other lies), by Biffy James
This is a young adult novel you won't want to put down! I was immediately invested in the protagonist, 16-year-old Stella, whose conversational, witty voice drew me in from the first page. We learn that the hottest guy in school, Isaac Calder, has been killed in a car accident and everyone is grieving - most of all Isaac's popular girlfriend Grace.
We also learn that Stella and Isaac had been more than just friends before his death - but because it was a secret relationship, Stella can't publicly mourn Isaac's death the way Grace can.
Stella does her best to keep her secret and grieve in private, but the truth usually has a way of finding its way to the surface...
As Stella starts to form a genuine friendship with Grace, I began to feel a growing sense of unease as I kept reading, waiting for the secret to be exposed, wondering how this would impact on the girls' new friendship.
I love it when a book has me invested in the plot and the characters like this, and I need to keep reading so I can know that the main character will be ok!
The writing is fresh funny, smart and insightful. Themes of grief, mental health, fractured families, body image, consent and friendship are handled with honesty and sensitivity.
I love that Stella was presented as a flawed and vulnerable character. I really enjoyed her character development as she comes to understand that lying to yourself and others means you can't be the most authentic version of yourself.
The blurb describes this book as being perfect for fans of John Green, Krystal Sutherland and Sally Rooney - so if you enjoy these authors then you'll love this book too.
Thanking Hardie Grant for my review copy of this wonderful book.
Published by Hardie Grant Kids