This book is one of the few books that make me laugh out loud. Audrey, the witty narrator and main character, is fourteen years old and has a severe anxiety disorder which was caused by an incident at school that is never discussed. She never leaves the house and wears dark sunglasses so that she doesn’t have to look anyone in the eye, even members of her family.
Her fifteen-year-old brother, Frank, has devoted his life to playing video games for fun and for competition. He plans on joining a team and winning a world championship. Her younger brother Felix is about four, and an excited witness to the chaos of the family.
Their mother worships the Daily Mail, and one day reads an article about how computers and video games poison children’s minds. From then on, she’s bent on banning computers from the house, which is devastating news to Frank. Their father is distracted but well-meaning, although he doesn’t generally get involved in the issues their mother obsesses about in the Daily Mail.
Throughout the video game drama, Audrey slowly becomes friends with her brother’s gaming friend Linus, who is interested in her and wants to help her recover. Gradually she gets more and more comfortable around him. Soon they are going out together to places like the local park and Starbucks, where Audrey gets practice asking strangers questions like what ice cream is being told and what time it is.
Another part of the book is frequent video transcripts from a documentary that Audrey films of her life as part of her therapy. They’re like treats in-between the chapters.
But the best part about the book is simply how funny it is. I laughed out loud at countless places. What makes it so funny is that the things that happen to the family in the book really happen in real life. Every situation is funny in some way:
“I’ve often noticed that people equate ‘having a sense of humour’ with ‘being an insensitive moron.'”
The story ties up excellently in the end. It’s a simple story is some ways, but also very complex. There’s not really any sort of dramatic climax (although you could argue that there is), but it stills ends really nicely.
Five giant stars!