Marianne's Reviews > It Sounded Better in My Head

It Sounded Better in My Head by Nina Kenwood
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it was amazing

It Sounded Better In My Head is the first novel by Australian author, Nina Kenwood, and winner of the 2018 Text Prize of YA and Children’s Writing. When Natalie’s father announces on Christmas Day that he and her mother are separating, it’s a shock. This news, and their infuriatingly calm manner of imparting it, is almost eclipsed, however, by the fact that they kept this from her for ten months. Her world (already somewhat disordered when her two best friends, Zach and Lucy decided they were in love) has now turned upside down.

Further disruptions to her reassuringly predictable, neatly mapped-out life are not welcome, and when Alex decides to take a romantic interest in Natalie, she’s wary, even sceptical: surely he’s not genuinely interested; there must be some other motive. An added complication is that Alex is Zach’s older brother, and Zach is uncomfortable with the whole situation for a number of reasons, only one of which doesn’t totally irritate Natalie.

Kenwood gives the reader a cast of very believable characters who are appealing for all their flaws and quirks. Eighteen-year-old Natalie is, as Zach says, “smart, funny and interesting”. Kenwood includes lots of entertaining dialogue which means that readers should avoid reading this novel in the quiet carriage on public transport as the inevitable laughing out loud might disturb other travellers, but this also means it would make an excellent telemovie.

For the extremely fortunate many who will never suffer it, in Natalie’s description of her experience with cystic acne Kenwood shines a spotlight on the effects, both physical and psychological, of this devastating condition: “...pimples that turned, almost overnight, into deep cystic acne. Thick, hard, welt-like lumps formed under my skin on my back, shoulders, neck and face... It was gross. I was gross. I woke up every day thinking that for a long time.”

In particular, thoughtless, uninformed or downright nasty comments from strangers about appearance undermine self-esteem: “My body was a shameful disaster. I was too embarrassed to go outside unless I absolutely had to. No, it was worse than that. I was too embarrassed to exist” to the extent that Natalie actually decides “…’my parents are splitting up’ is a refreshingly normal and acceptable problem to have, and it’s far less embarrassing than an ‘I-have-an-infected-pimple-that’s-so-huge-and-disfiguring-that-it-has-sent-me-into-a-spiral-of-depression-so-I-won’t-be-getting-out-of-bed-today kind of issue’”

So Natalie’s anxiety over what could be her first love (and possibly first sex) is, naturally, enhanced by her insecurity, and her second-guessing just about every social interaction is hardly unexpected. Her voice is genuine, often self-deprecating, and her inner monologue oscillates between hilarious and heart breaking.

While it is labelled Young Adult and will definitely appeal to that age group, that does not mean that older adults will not enjoy it. This is an outstanding debut novel; if you've overdosed on psychological thrillers lately, take a break with this delightfully fresh and funny feel-good story.
This unbiased review is from a copy provided by Text Publishing
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Reading Progress

August 13, 2019 – Started Reading
August 13, 2019 – Shelved
August 13, 2019 –
page 130
42.76% "such fun!"
August 14, 2019 –
page 206
August 14, 2019 –
page 292
August 15, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-8 of 8 (8 new)

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message 1: by Suzanne (new) - added it

Suzanne I'm going to add it. Just read an article on it in The Age. Hope you like it, Marianne!

Marianne I'm enjoying it very much, Suzanne

message 3: by Suzanne (new) - added it

Suzanne That is excellent to hear, Marianne.

message 4: by PattyMacDotComma (last edited Aug 15, 2019 08:24PM) (new)

PattyMacDotComma Sounds like a good one, Marianne. Everyone was a kid once, and sometimes it's good to revisit those feelings.

I've always loved the sentiment of that title, too!

Marianne As you can tell, I really enjoyed it!

message 6: by Suzanne (new) - added it

Suzanne Marianne wrote: "As you can tell, I really enjoyed it!"

Oooh, Marianne. I won't read your review, but am very pleased to see your 5 star rating.

message 7: by Sharon (new) - added it

Sharon Excellent review, Marianne. Adding this one :)

message 8: by dewdrops (new) - added it

dewdrops @marianne amazing review

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