Standalone – very real and vulnerable snapshot of today’s society from a seventeen year old girl’s point of view
Reviewed by Gitte & Jenny
‘Is it right to accept you cannot help someone?’
Riveting. Heart-breaking. Realistic. Honest. Funny. Devastatingly dark. Brilliant! We could go on. And on. Nina is Not OK is a very real and vulnerable snapshot of today’s society from a seventeen year old girl’s point of view. A striking coming of age novel which highlights the downfalls such as binge drinking, addiction, sexual consent and the pit falls of social media. It also highlights the nature of friendships and family relationships. Understanding and forgiveness. Rights and wrongs. There’s a saying we thought of often whilst reading this book; be careful not to lose a diamond whilst being too busy collecting stones.
‘Sometimes, when I’m on the underground, and I hear the rumble of the train in the tunnel, I press my back right up against the wall, as far away from the platform as possible, just in case, at the very last second as the train hurtles onto the platform, I go mad and jump.’
Nina is Not OK was a difficult read in the sense that we start off by experiencing the ugly side of human nature- under the influence and follow through a journey of hatred, doubt, abuse and tragedy to make it out on the other side with a deep breath and an exhausted exhale. We have to applaud Shappi Khorsandi on a fantastic first novel, it was addictive and overwhelmingly well written. It’s incredibly hard to write an ‘easy read’ which has such a profound emotional affect and be so witty at the same time. This Author achieved just that as her writing felt unique and incredibly authentic. We cared deeply for Nina no matter how many times she challenged us.
‘I’m jealous of all these ‘great’ girls who are ‘girlfriends’, who don’t drink so much and don’t fuck someone just so they can have a cuddle. I’m jealous of these girls because the men who tell me to leave their house, don’t want them to leave.’
Nina, at first comes across harsh and self-serving yet intelligent and beautiful. A façade hiding a multitude of personal problems and unresolved emotional distress. Nina drinks to feel, yet in the same breath- drinks to not feel. An oxymoron. She lost her Dad at an early age to alcoholism and feels left out in her current family setting. Losing her boyfriend to another girl is the final catalyst in her turmoil of emotions and Nina loses herself in alcohol and meaningless and destructive sexual situations. The feeling of rejection, disconnection and an overwhelming loss of control can devastate anyone. Any human contact and acceptance no matter the form is sought to validate you and verify you are alive and being seen.
‘There is no ‘rite of passage’ to get out of booze. Booze sits its arse down in your life, pretends to be your friend, then trips you up, kicks you and throws rocks at you. You push it away; it runs back at you harder and knock you over. You barricade your door against it, and it’ll climb through your window. If you promise yourself you won’t drink, it’ll laugh at your promise, drag you screaming to the ground and batter you unconscious.’
There are so many beautiful relationships woven into the ugly reality of Nina’s alcoholism; a disease that takes hold and affects everyone involved. It throws one test after another to see at the end of the day who is left standing. An outside projection of internal hurt, grief and loneliness. A need to be understood and an inability to cope.
‘I was upside down, inside out and back to front. I was myself, just the worst ‘version’ of myself.’
Coping mechanisms are not automatic they are learnt through observation or taught. Shappi Khorsandi highlighted and touched upon these and so many subjects and issues that we currently experience or see in our society in this gripping read. From a rough beginning to an emotional harrowing un-put-down-able read. There is no question. One of the best books of 2016!
‘When you see someone that drunk, you look after them, or you find their mates and get them to look after them.’