Under Rose-Tainted Skies is Louise Gornall’s debut novel and tells the story of 17 year old Norah and her life with agoraphobia.
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…
I’ve only read one other book with an agoraphobic character and even though it was really good, it doesn’t compare at all to this. Under Rose-Tainted Skies is the most fantastic and honest book about mental health that I’ve read, and I can’t thank Louise enough for writing something so truthful.
The main character in this book is seventeen year old Norah who lives in California with her mum. Norah has suffered from agoraphobia for 3 years and consequently has had to leave her school and friends behind, leaving her feeling incredibly lonely and isolated from the world outside of her house.
In 2013 I became agoraphobic after being unwell and I cannot tell you how comforting Under Rose-Tainted Skies was to read. Reading my own experience told so truthfully was reassuring and also quite freeing. I’ve actually never spoken to someone else is person who has also suffered from agoraphobia but after reading this it felt like I had. “Rose actually started off as a sort of diary entry. Some illegible ramblings on a page. I suffer from agoraphobia myself, and was getting frustrated with my stagnant situation.”
I think what I like most about Under Rose-Tainted Skies is how realistically Norah’s condition is depicted within the storyline. This so easily could have ended up a bit fantastical with Norah suddenly waking up one day and deciding that she can do anything for love and that the last 3 years of isolation were all worth it because now she’s in LOVE! But in reality people don’t fall in love overnight and even if they did, love isn’t a magical healer that can rid a person of a serious illness. Under Rose-Tainted Skies has been written responsibly and as a result will challenge every person who reads this to think about how they perceive mental illness.
There are many scenes in Under Rose-Tainted Skies that I think will be really revealing for people who have very little knowledge of agoraphobia. Often you hear it described as something where people don’t want to go outside but it’s so much bigger, so much more complex than that and Louise does an AMAZING job of including every bit of the condition without losing the distinction between Norah and her illness. Louise is the perfect author for this book because she didn’t start writing to shock or change the YA playing field, it was simply an outlet for her pain.
Norah is also a really strong character which I think is important because mental illness is too often seen as being synonymous with weakness. The descriptions of Norah’s treatment are fantastic too as they really do justice to the lengthy and exhausting efforts that are needed to begin to reverse the effects of mental health conditions. “I was getting super down at seeing the same four or five Mental Health behaviours explained away with fresh air and a better diet. Like mental health isn’t complex and multifaceted, like I (and thousands of people just like me) hadn’t been working our butts off to feel better. Pretty soon this story started unfolding and I included everything, I wanted it to be like, “Here! Read this and then tell us we’ll feel better after swapping out Mac&Cheese for a salad.””
Under Rose-Tainted Skies is a brilliant story filled with so much heart, truth and love. Whether you’ve suffered from agoraphobia or not this is an important story that I really, truly recommend to everyone.
Under Rose-Tainted Skies will be published on July 7th by Chicken House.
Thank you so much to Chicken House for sending me a proof copy.
Huge thank yous to Louise for answering my questions ❤
Louise’s blog: https://bookishblurb.com