Audrey, 14, is on a long, slow upswing from disabling anxiety disorders that resulted from the vicious abuse of bullies at school.
Under the guidance of thoughtful Dr. Sarah, Audrey begins to deal with her inability to make eye contact—or even to leave the house—by crafting videos of her quirky, near-farcical family, a nifty narrative device that especially shows off her “twitchy” mom. Audrey's brother Frank is determined to win an online gaming championship with his team, in spite of their mom's frenetic attempts to remake the family based on newspaper advice—which, sadly for Frank, includes giving up computers. Complicating this is the fact that Frank's team includes sensitive Linus, who delicately, tenderly navigates Audrey's vividly portrayed roadblocks. As their relationship blossoms, Audrey gains both strength and courage. The counterpoint of absurd humor against Audrey's uncertain progress toward healing, graphically depicted in her appealing and slightly ironic first-person voice, is compelling. Since the nature of the bullying is never fully revealed, it can readily represent the experiences of other victims. It's only as the narrative approaches its conclusion that the true source of the dysfunction in Audrey's family is revealed: all of them have become victims in myriad ways.
An outstanding tragicomedy that gently explores mental illness, the lasting effects of bullying, and the power of friends and loving family to help in the healing. (Fiction. 12-18)