Monday, 1 August 2016

Review: Nina is Not OK by Shappi Khorsandi

Title: Nina is Not OK
Author: Shappi Khorsandi
Publisher: Ebury Press
Pages: 352
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Source: Netgalley

 Nina is Not OK
Nina does not have a drinking problem. She likes a drink, sure. But what 17-year-old doesn’t?

Nina’s mum isn’t so sure. But she’s busy with her new husband and five year old Katie. And Nina’s almost an adult after all.

And if Nina sometimes wakes up with little memory of what happened the night before, then her friends are all too happy to fill in the blanks. Nina’s drunken exploits are the stuff of college legend.

But then one dark Sunday morning, even her friends can’t help piece together Saturday night. All Nina feels is a deep sense of shame, that something very bad has happened to her…
Nina starts out as a fairly typical 17 year old, she likes to go out on the lash with her friends and her fake ID and have fun. However, Nina's life is slowly spiralling out of control - she is having some problems at home and she has just been dumped by her soul mate. Pretty quickly her drinking becomes uncontrollable and she has frequent blackouts.

Nina has an authentic voice, she could have been someone you would have known in sixth form or college. She is unlikeable at times and often I wanted to shake her and exclaim 'what the hell are you doing!' Like many 17 year olds, Nina makes some horrendous decisions. There were parts of this book I physically cringed for her, some of the situations she finds herself in were just awful.

The teen binge drinking culture is portrayed perfectly and I often had to remind myself that this was fiction. Nina's interactions with her friends and the dramas that we emerged felt very real, Khorsandi captures the teenage voice so accurately. Needless to say there are trigger warnings for alcohol abuse, abusive relationships, harmful sexual behaviour and sexual assault. No uncomfortable details were spared. The reader hits rock bottom with Nina and you cannot help feeling sympathy for her.

Sexual identity and feminism (as interpreted by teenagers) were also touched upon in this book which gave additional layers to the narrative. This book is so compulsively readable. The conclusion to Nina's story was satisfying and I felt the book ended on a positive note.

I feel like Nina is Not OK would be able to offer a great deal to critical discussions about binge drinking and rape culture and would make a great book club read. Highly recommend.

I received a free uncorrected proof from Netgalley. I was not required to give a review.

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