Published July 28, 2016
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
WOW!! I really do have to give this one ALL THE STARS!
I first came across Nina is Not OK after a friend reviewed it.. After reading her review and the book description I wanted to read it right away.
The book opens as seventeen-year-old Nina is being marched out of a club by a bouncer. Her best friends, Beth and Zoe are still inside, while she’s outside so drunk she can barely stand. Some time later she arrives home by cab, with her underwear in her hand, shocking her mother with the state she’s in.
When she awakens the next morning, she’s relieved that she is in her own bed fully clothed. However, she has no memory of how she got there. This isn’t the first time Nina has drank so much she’s blacked out, with no memory of what happened. Although her memory is almost blank she feels deeply ashamed at the little bits she does remember. Her mother is also not impressed and is losing patience with her, though she tries to be understanding as what’s happening with Nina is not unfamiliar to her.
***Possibly very minor spoilers***
Nina’s father was also an alcoholic. One minute a happy drunk and the next he was yelling and throwing things. Her childhood was chaotic. After he passed away her mother got some help and eventually met and married Alan. He is a quiet man that Nina finds boring but grudging admits he’s a good father to her little sister Katie.
Nina is trying to get over her recent break-up with ex-boyfriend Jamie. The break-up was out of the blue and Nina is still trying to make sense of it. And drinking seems to help her forget about it, at least for a little while.
When her step-father gets a job in Germany, they are all to go live there for a year. Nina is livid and refuses to go with them. It’s decided she will stay with Beth and her father while they are gone. Nina’s drinking gets worse and she’s making some dangerous choices. Everyone is worried about her but Nina thinks she’s fine. But one night things go way to far and even Nina knows it. She’s taken to rehab. It takes time but she realizes that she does have a problem a huge problem and that she needs help. That the people in rehab truly understand.
“For the first time I’m with people who have boozed in a way that normal drinkers don’t understand. Those who say getting wasted is a ‘rite of passage’ don’t get it. We are not ‘hard-core’. We are not ‘party animals’. We are ill.”
For awhile things are okay. Nina works the AA program. “One Day at a Time” becomes her mantra. New Year’s Day though, Nina’s world explodes. Angry and ashamed she doesn’t think that she can make it through this.
Some readers may have a hard time liking Nina. She can definitely be hard to like sometimes. I’m in no way shaming her, as many addicts can be hard to like. Nina is an addict, an alcoholic. Generally addicts in the throes of their addiction don’t treat people very well. They will often lie and manipulate in order to get what they want. Nothing is ever their fault etc. I feel like the author definitely succeeded in showing how a teenage addict could act.
There were many times that I loved Nina too. Her relationship with her sister, Katie is beautiful. Katie brings out all of the softness in Nina. Nina does not like six-year-old Katie to see her drunk and feels terrible when she’s hung-over and grumpy with her.
**Warning** There are some brutally honest and graphic descriptions of situations that may upset and/or trigger some readers. However, I didn’t feel like the author was trying to sensationalize these situations but trying to show the reality of what was happening in Nina’s life.
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”
Literally painful to read at times. The writing is authentic and accurate. The author tackles so many of the issues that our children are going through today. Drugs, alcohol, sex, school pressure, social media, relationships and more. I really became more and more emotionally invested into Nina’s character as well as some of the other characters as the book went on.
This is definitely one of best books I’ve read lately. I loved so many of the characters, they were so well developed. The author is also a comedian and although there were many dark issues in this book, there were also some incredibly funny parts too.
Thank you to NetGalley, Ebury Press and Shappi Khorsandi for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.