By Shaifali Agrawal
Title: Finding Audrey; Author: Sophie Kinsella; Publisher: Random House; Pages: 280; Price:Rs.399
“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,” wrote Leo Tolstoy.
In “Finding Audrey”, we enter a family which is messed up and argues a lot.
Audrey, a 14 year old girl, suffers from social anxiety. Her brother Frank, 13, is obsessed with the Land of Conquerors computer game. Her mother is obsessed with the Daily Mail and is always worried over Frank’s obsession and Audrey’s mental health.
Kinsella proves her writing prowess once again with her latest Young Adult book that tackles serious issues like social anxiety, computer games addiction, and bullying in a fun and humorous way. Fans of her chick lit might feel a little too old for this one; but it would still make you laugh out loud, at certain places, regardless of your age.
The first chapter, that was made available before the publication, starts like every teen’s horror story: The mother is on the verge of tossing Frank’s computer out of the window. Rewind one month prior and you witness the family that is on its ups and downs, like a zagged graph.
An example of a dialogue between the mother, who did not understand the game her son was addicted to, and Frank, goes like this: ” ‘But why does everyone have to be so greedy and violent’, (the mother asked and) Frank snapped, ‘It’s Land of Conquerors, Mum, not Land of Community Service Volunteers,’ and she did look a bit embarrassed.”
Replete with chirpiness, wit and humour, “Finding Audrey” also has moments that make you go “aw”. It makes you aware of how much every member of a family gets affected, emotionally and mentally, when one person is going through a tough time. “Because of me, Mum looks all tense and tired instead of shiny and happy,” Audrey says in the book.
The other family members – Felix, Audrey’s little brother who is four, looks at most life events with disbelieving joy; and the father, pitifully and hilariously juggles between taking the mother’s side or staying out of the daily arguments with the kids.
Kinsella, being a mom of teens herself, tells the story of the crazy yet funny family, through the eyes of Audrey. It is probably an attempt to make the teen readers see their parents’ side of the story – their much misunderstood aggression and worry over their children’s health and happiness.
The book, aimed at teens, a first one for The Shopaholic Series-fame author, is similar to the author’s writing style in her Contemporary Romance genre books. The exchange of little old-school notes between Audrey and her crush Linux reminds of the SMS exchange between Poppy and Sam in “I’ve Got Your Number”.
This book would be relatable to all teens – and their parents.