Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
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…
A dark, funny - sometimes shocking - coming of age novel from one of the UK’s leading comedians. NINA IS NOT O.K. will appeal to fans of Caitlin Moran and Lena Dunham.
This is a book I would have adored reading when I was a teenager. I lived for books like this for no other reason than they were teen books set in the UK. That’s what drew me to this book in the first place, that and it is about a 17 year old girl with a drink problem.
It’s Awkward and Cringey, But That’s Not A Bad Thing
It’s an awkward read for so many reasons, but awkward in a good way. The kind of awkward which makes it relatable. You know that cringey feeling you get when you’re hungover and you remember that really embarrassing thing you did which was completely hilarious when you’re drunk but mortifying when you wake up and realise everyone else saw you too? You feel that a lot during this book because Nina’s inhibitions when drunk are non-existent.
You spend the first half of the book experiencing life with Nina and her slow descent into having a problem with alcohol. It’s awkward and so very refreshing because it feels genuine. Then you have the second half of the book where steps are taken towards recovery. You see more of the real Nina as people realise she has a problem and try to help, although some are more helpful than others.
Nina is An Awful Drunk, But An Amazing Person
Nina is not the most likeable of characters, when drunk she may be the life and soul of the party to those who don’t know her, but those who do just worry. She takes things too far and makes bad decisions and it’s not fun to watch. I think I began to like her more once she realised what she was doing was going too far. As Nina grows as a character she becomes a person you might actually want to speak to. She may be blunt and sarcastic, but she also cares and you see that as you experience her regrets the next day. This is a girl who is being forced to grow up and feels like no-one understands her.
Basically, Nina is a train wreck just waiting to happen. She is lovely, but she’s such a stereotypical teenager who thinks she always knows best it’s ridiculous. I loved and hated her in equal measure because she is awesome that way. I grew to like her more and more as the book progressed because I could relate to her. I’m not an alcoholic or anything, I meant I could relate to her issues as a teenager and the simple fact it’s in the UK (that’s seriously significant for me.
It’s Book Which Isn’t Afraid To Let The Real World Creep In
I don’t know, this is an awkward book to read, but also a good reality check. It takes a very different look at the teen experience of growing up and drinking. We all assume it’s a right of passage to get drunk and act stupid, but for some, they don’t learn their limits and head in a downward spiral and this book was certainly open to that fact.
I love that this book deals so smartly with consent, as well. Nina is a girl who drinks and only truly begins her downward spiral (and climb up) after a terrible night she blacks out and suspects way more happened with a stranger than she would have ever agreed to. The consent is obviously non-existent when it comes to him, but Nina also finds herself sleeping with others when drunk and it’s excellent seeing the obvious difference between what happens with the first bloke and with the others. Is her behaviour questionable and does she regret what happened afterwards with those guys? Most definitely.
Let’s Talk Generalities and Summarise
This is basically a really intense read for so many reasons. It deals with a lot of issues, addiction and consent being the main ones, but also deals with loss, abuse, growing up, and dealing with parents who have moved on to new relationships and families and feeling left behind. It’s an interesting read I would recommend to others, but be aware it’s not always a comfortable read.
Do you prefer lighter books or are you okay with more serious books too? Do you find yourself reading books you know would have appealed to you when you actually the target age as well?