**The US Edition is now available to request on #Netgalley**
YA coming-of-age, modern-day, contemporary romance that ticks every box.
Debut Australian author, Nina Kenwood's moving portrayal of a shy, sheltered teenager on the cusp of adulthood is honest, frank, insightful, inspirational, and charming, with some hilarious moments. Three pages in and I was completely devoted to this captivating book, and Natalie's relatable voice instantly transported me right back to the awkwardness and experiences of my own teen years.
Natalie's life is in limbo.
It's her summer after High School, and she's not sure what her future holds.
Exam results are in, but Natalie won't know which university she's been accepted into until the New Year.
Her two best friends - Zach and Lucy - have recently fallen in love with one another, and she's feeling like a third wheel.
Then, on Christmas Day, out of the blue, her parents announce they are separating.
Where does that leave Natalie
But a chance invitation to a party changes everything.
Things are looking up.
It's a time of new and exciting, transition and uncertainty, as Natalie tries to make sense of who she is and where she fits, as she is forced to let go of what is familiar and comfortable, and tentatively explore the unknown. Natalie is more naive and introverted than your average 18 year old. Since puberty she has been afflicted with severe, deliberating acne resulting in body image issues, social anxiety, and depression, and spent much of her high school years hiding away from the world in the sanctity of her house. Acne is a delicate topic, one most of us (myself included) have felt self-conscious about at some point, yet this is the first YA novel I've ever read to feature a protagonist with bad skin, and focus on it so openly. Even though at the start of this novel Natalie's acne is now minimised by medication, she still bears the physical and emotional scars, and has traumatic flashbacks.
'Winter is my season. Long coats, boots, big jumpers, puffer vests, beanies, giant scarves, jackets with hoods. These are safety blankets for anyone who is uncomfortable in their skin.'
I completely embraced Natalie's journey as she gradually began to accept and open herself up to others, and realise that she is not the only person with insecurities and problems. Her relationships with her parents, her two besties, and her romantic interest (whose identity I won't spoil) are realistic, touching, and sweet. Oh, and a special shout-out to Zach's wonderful, supportive family - they're adorable.
At 288 pages it's a quick read, so not too daunting if your teenager isn't a voracious reader. The perfect book for parents/caregivers to read, and discuss, with their daughters and sons. Content rating - some sexual content, alcohol abuse, a couple of instances of swearing, but nothing above pg. If you don't fall in love with It Sounded Better in My Head, like I did, then there's something wrong with you.