We need more fiction featuring illness and disability. Under Rose-Tainted Skies is about agoraphobia, although it feels as if Norah suffers more with general OCD, of which an inability to leave the house is one of several traits.
Whatever you choose to call it, this is a mental illness, and as such you might want, or expect, a cure of sorts. With blindness or paralysis, say, a story would be based on this being something that stays, and learning to live with it. Here, the temptation is to read and wait for the cure to set in; the ‘happy-ever-after’ you want from fiction.
I kept wishing Norah wouldn’t suddenly find she was back to normal because the gorgeous new boy next door wanted to be her boyfriend. It struck me as too easy an option, while I also realised that there needed to be a positive outcome, or at least hope. I’m fairly sure that OCD and agoraphobia are things we do to ourselves, unlike being bipolar, and I can sympathise with Norah, while not being quite as irrational as she is.
It seemed that Norah had a lot of problems, with what I’d call textbook OCD. Cases like hers are clearly more obvious, but hopefully also much rarer, and I’m more interested in milder forms of the same, where it’s perhaps not a 100% handicap, and sometimes barely noticeable, while still making ordinary life really hard. This was more the ‘wheelchair’ version, than the person who can walk, but who is in constant pain.
Anyway, enough of the speculating on who has it worse. We need books like this one, and I understand that Louise Gornall has (had?) similar problems to Norah.
Norah hasn’t left the house for years, except when she’s forced to go and see her psychologist (this is America), she is homeschooled and her single mother is supportive and there doesn’t seem to be money problems. And then Luke moves in next door, and he’s lovely, and he’s interested. What’s more, he doesn’t give up, he wants to understand, and he couldn’t care less about being chased by the school’s most popular girl. He wants Norah. But Norah wants him to have someone normal.
Luke is too perfect, and as I mentioned, I hoped his love wouldn’t be the one thing to suddenly cure Norah. That would have been too cheesy.
Not saying what happens…