BOOK REVIEW – Nina is Not OK by Shappi Khorsandi

nina-is-not-okI know this has been classified as Young Adult reading, but it should also be read by all parents as a cautionary tale! It should also be prescribed reading for all high school learners – perhaps in a slightly watered-down form (teachers tend to get slightly embarassed).
Shappi Khorsandi doesn’t hold back in this bare-all, brutally honest telling of the downward spiral of Nina, a 17-year-old girl on the brink of complete and utter disaster. It’s all here … drink, drugs, sex, friends, back-stabbing friends, self-esteem and lack thereof, parental issues, peer pressure, boyfriends. I see you there, nodding along and thinking “blah, blah, yadda, yadda, heard it all before’ … but you haven’t; not this way.
Khorsandi has made it one hundred percent real, and any parent reading this should quake with fear!
And the scariest thing? Nina isn’t actually a bad girl! Nope, she isn’t. She’s a really sweet, big sister who just can’t cope with the fact that her dad (an alcoholic – it’s hereditary you know) died a few years ago, her mom remarried, she’s not keen on her stuffed shirt of a step-dad or that her mom’s become a different person now that she’s married him, and her one true love is now on the other side of the world – and is now in love with someone else. But she adores her little sister, Katie and will go out of her way to protect her, and the image Katie has of her bit sister.
And doesn’t everyone else drink anyway? How else do you have a good time when you’re 17 and you’re partying your life away? Well yes, go on and justify it all you like (as teens are wont to do), but everyone else isn’t being thrown out of nightclubs for performing lurid sex acts on others, arriving home in a taxi with no clue of how you got there, screwing strangers in the park just so they’ll buy you a drink, and drunk messaging the love of one’s life (yes, the one who now loves someone else) an untold number of times a night (regardless of the fact that he still hasn’t replied after the last untold number of nights that you did this)!
So it would seem that no, Nina is not OK.
Compile a collage of all your teenage angst and embarassments. Now compound that a hundred fold once you’ve added the complication of an alcoholic haze that allows you to misbehave so diabolically, that once your hangover mist lifts, you want to disappear into its loving embrace once again, if only to forget the truly cringe-worthy things you’re reading about yourself, splashed for all the world to see on social media.
This is Nina’s reality, played over and over, again and again. And in a way, is she grateful to social media for answering her questions about what she gets up to when the liquor takes over and all becomes a blur?
This is an extremely powerful commentary on an all too common scourge of society – after all, look around you, alcohol is so very easily and readily available. It’s thought provoking, and will hopefully encourage much-needed dialogue.
Like driving past a bad accident, where you know you shouldn’t look, but you just can’t tear yourself away, this is one of those books that begs attention. As much as you feel like you’re imposing on Nina’s life, you want to keep reading to see how much worse it’s going to get … while at the same time, you’re silently cheering her on to pull herself together and get through this truly horrendous phase of her life.
I loved this book, as much as it horrified and terrified me, it has to be read. So thank you to THE Book Club on Facebook for bringing it to my attention, and to NetGalley and Ebury Press for sending me the ARC in return for my honest review.

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