The Turner family consists of Audrey, Frank, Felix and the parents. Audrey and Frank are both teenagers and Felix is still a little kid. But ever since a traumatizing experience at school, Audrey's anxiety towards pretty much anything went through the roof. She can't help but think everyone's thinking about her and judging her every time she's in public. As for Frank, he's addicted to a certain videogame, League of Conquerors, and believes if he gets good enough, he can go to this special championship and earn 6 million dollars, and if not be a gamer when he grows up. But the mom is extremely against Frank playing this game, believing it's rotting him, but something that influences Audrey in this dilemma is Frank's friend Linus, who's beginning to show Audrey straight-up attention. The thing is, she doesn't know if she's ready or not. Or ever will be. But her therapist believes it is time, and Audrey knows she won't be able to stay confined forever. Eventually the outside world is going to eat her up. Or will it embrace her?
Most contemporary books I read (which, admittedly, isn't that many) involve school, jobs and friends. Finding Audrey takes a lighter approach in its world expansion decisions; Audrey is out of school for the rest of the school year and it's spring, and she is so frightened of the world that her entire world might as well just be her stuffy bedroom with sore earmuffs and melatonin. And most of the book is spent with family connection storylines, most of which require the audience to be with the entire family, and so they're all at home too. And it clocks in at just less than 300 short pages, and like Kinsella's Shopaholic series only this time as a standalone instead of eight in a series, if you're looking for something unchallenging that won't require any labour to read, Finding Audrey is worth a glance.
I myself am surprised at the complexity of Frank vs Mom. I had a few fights with my parents over my computer obsession at an earlier age and sometimes the one little "You-just-don't-get-it" will drop from the sky. I also couldn't help but wonder how many other readers would pick up this book and get the same reaction as me. Probably not many computer geeks will pick the book up, and if a mother stumbles upon this, I think they'll have plenty to enjoy here. Frank believes in his dream to make it to the LOC Championships like he's been thinking about it since he had baby teeth, and says that videogames are also educational; Minecraft for architecture, Sim City for business and maintaining a city, etc. And Mom wants Frank to get a summer job, go for runs, learn to play the guitar like their dad did/does, and believes he will never get anywhere with videogames. They're both right but both sides refuse to consider the pros of the other. And Kinsella doesn't seem to have a certain side to this argument, amazingly letting us decide who's more in the right. I think writers could get a good scope of good argumentative dialogue here.
Audrey is also a great character. I used to be almost as shy as her. If I didn't train to get over it as the years went by, I'd probably wear dark sunglasses too. I still have some fear of walking up to someone I don't really know, especially if they seem busy, or make a phone call to someone I don't know well, or at all. I remember in public school, during recess I'd usually sit by a tree or a pole by myself and wait for the bell to ring, too afraid I was no fun for any of my athletic and feet-tapping friends. The slow development she gets from being with Linus really works, because it's a lot easier to go somewhere you're scared of when you're with someone for support, and when Audrey gets that privilege, she does get better bit by bit, and it's not all entirely Linus's doing.
Now, despite Frank's gaming obsession, apparently he's on the cross country team at school and got a 95 on a Chemistry test. I found that a bit unrealistic. I also found it unrealistic when after a disaster, Audrey hails a taxi due to her fear of strangers, even though the taxi driver would be an even bigger stranger than who she was with. And most of the first half of this book is spent with that Frank banter and it got a little bit noticeably repetitive, and I felt the ending was realistic and somewhat warm but had a decision in it that disappointed me considering the impressive buildup scattered throughout the book. I also feel I got left out on a few too many parts of the old storyline and I wanted to know a bit more about this universe the Turner family grew up in. But I can't deny Finding Audrey's relatability. It doesn't even have to try to be relatable. It just is. Shyness and willingness to stay unhealthy are traits lots of kids feel, whether it's for a phase or for a few years, or even longer. And the desire to protect your child and show them the ways of life you deem correct from your own experience is a trait lots of parents feel. Its lightness might not make it stand out and win a trophy but it's a book hard to extremely dislike.