A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Sophie Kinsella's Finding Audrey features a 14-year-old protagonist suffering from anxiety and depression after being bullied at school. Audrey's wacky family and cute new crush, Linus, stand by her as she strives to recover. Though the book often has a funny, lighthearted tone, it imparts a lot of lessons, including what it feels like to suffer from panic attacks (and some steps for managing their severity). Parents can use this book to talk about bullying -- and about the benefits and liabilities of video game playing (which Audrey's parents and brother are trying to negotiate). Audrey and Linus strike up a romantic relationship, and she kisses him. There's some swearing, especially from Audrey's older brother, Frank (including "f--k" and "s--t"). Audrey takes prescription medication for her anxiety.
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What's the story?
In FINDING AUDREY, Audrey is on a break from school, trying to recover from a horrible but unspecified bullying incident at school that left her susceptible to panic attacks and unable to venture outside her house or make eye contact. Her therapist encourages her to make a documentary, and she records her home life, including often very funny interactions between her well-meaning but clueless parents and her older brother, whom they've banned from playing video games (but he finds ways to play them anyway). Plus, the film gives her an excuse to talk to cute, caring Linus, a friend of her brother who believes Audrey can get better.
Is it any good?
This book takes on some serious issues -- bullying as well as depression and anxiety -- and still often comes across as sweet and funny, partly due to Audrey's (unintentionally) hilarious family. When her mother suspects her brother is playing computer games instead of doing homework, for example, she stands on top of the playhouse in the yard to peek in his window and ends up breaking the roof and being wedged inside the house.
The novel succeeds primarily thanks to the tender romance that blossoms between Audrey and Linus, who's very patient with her, even as he pushes her outside her self-imposed boundary by doing funny things such as asking a random man feeding ducks at a park if ducks are vegetarians. Ultimately, Finding Audrey is a charming story that will entertain tween and teen readers even as it encourages them to think about some heavy subjects.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the debate between Audrey's mother and her brother Frank. Do you think computer games have value, or can they be detrimental?
What exactly do you think happened to Audrey? Does her situation seem realistic to you?
What would you do if you saw someone being bullied? How can you avoid cyberbullying?
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