Book Review: Under Rose Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

Nora hasn’t left her house in four years. Now she’s 17 and still struggling with agoraphobia and OCD. She knows she’s being illogical and irrational, but still can’t help being afraid. So she doesn’t go out. Instead she watches the world from her window and social media feed. Then Luke moves in next door. He thinks she’s smart, funny, and brave. He doesn’t just see her as someone with a mental illness. He makes her want to go out and experience what she’s been missing. But she’s still unable to do so. As they spend more time together and get closer, Nora knows that Luke deserves someone normal who can leave her house. Yet, he still chooses to spend his time with her. Under Rose Tainted Skies was about Nora’s anxiety and her relationship with Luke.

Nora was a relatable character and likeable for the most part. She had a tendency to push people away. She doubted that they could understand her situation so much she didn’t even want to give them a chance. Luke wanted to be her friend, but she pushed him away at first. They did end up becoming friends and then boyfriend/girlfriend, but she was hesitant to tell him and tried keeping it a secret. Even after he found her, she still doubted that he would understand her and understand her limitations and still want to be with her, despite the fact that he spent a lot of his time with her and spent his Friday nights watching movies with her. One day, he kissed her and she got completely upset over it, accusing him of not understanding her limitations. After that, she ignored him and shut him out. But by the end, she realized she missed him and was willing to let him in. Nora also struggled with depression and self-harm as well as agoraphobia and OCD.

Under Rose Tainted Skies was about Nora’s agoraphobia and OCD as well as her friendship/romance with Luke. The book started was kind of slow in the first half, but sped up in the second half. At the end there was an epilogue titled In Recovery. It never said or gave any indication how long it had been since the main plotline. I didn’t like this. I wanted to know how long it had been. Throughout the whole book, Nora had agoraphobia and OCD. She didn’t make much progress until the end in the epilogue. Until then, she couldn’t even step outside her door and still had all her OCD behaviors. I wish the novel had been more about her recovery and really working on making progress.

Under Rose Tainted Skies was like Underwater by Marisa Reichardt. Both were about girls who were agoraphobic. Nora was a lot like Morgan from Underwater. But while in Underwater, a traumatic experience caused Morgan’s agoraphobia, there was no specific thing that caused Nora’s agoraphobia. Also Underwater was more about recovery while Under Rose Tainted Skies was more about the struggle. In addition, in Underwater, it kind of made it look like Evan “cured” Morgan. But in Under Rose Tainted Skies, it was more like Luke made her want to get better and gave her a real motivation to do so, but he did not “fix” her. I liked this. I’m tired of books making romance look like it “cures” mental illness. Mental illnesses don’t just go away because the person has fallen in love.

I enjoyed reading Under Rose Tainted Skies. I thought it was interesting as well as realistic. I recommend it to anyone looking for a novel about anxiety, mental health, realistic fiction, or contemporary fiction. I’d also recommend to someone looking for a novel similar to Underwater or Finding Audrey.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

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