Many thanks to Avon and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Very Nearly Normal follows the story of Effie Heaton, a young woman who is completely unhappy with how her life has panned out; she lives at home with her parents, is completely unlucky in love, drinks too much and works a low-paying job at a bookshop. She is incredibly insecure, especially as her passion for writing has got her nowhere, and those around her appear to have wealth, success, and solid relationships. However, the bad luck that Effie has endured throughout her life seems to shift upon meeting Theo, who pushes her to rid of her grudges and jealousy, to try new things, and to live her life to the fullest; however, Theo has a hidden secret, which will change the course of their love story entirely.
When I started this book, I thought that it would be an easy, light-hearted romcom with lots of clichés, but it proved to be so much more than that; I felt so many different emotions, at times feeling happy and laughing at the blunders and awkward situations that Effie finds herself in, to feeling angry, sad and frustrated at other parts, that I will not go into detail about because of spoilers! I felt so heavily invested in the lives of the characters, and there were many aspects of Effie’s character that I found to be very relatable. Sunderland does an amazing job at exploring a huge variety of themes, from love, forgiveness, self-acceptance and jealousy, and what it actually means to be normal; the story follows the journey of two realistic, but nonetheless broken individuals, and delves into how things are not always how they seem to be on the surface, whether it be Theo’s secret, or the apparent success of Effie’s childhood friend Kate. One of my favourite things about Very Nearly Normal was the character development; Effie and Theo are both flawed and complex characters, though they were incredibly realistic, and I really warmed to both of them. I also enjoyed the characters that were not central to the main plot, especially Effie’s cat, Elliot!
Overall, this book was definitely not what I excepted; though it has many conventions of a classic romcom novel, it avoids being cliché, and leaves you guessing and engrossed until the very final pages. Sunderland delivers a really important and powerful underlying message of self-acceptance and to live life to the fullest, whilst keeping you entertained the whole way through. This is the perfect read for these strange times, and I could not recommend it enough.
Very Nearly Normal is out tomorrow, 14th May! Will you be reading it? Let me know your thoughts!
Thank you for reading ❤