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 and 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 Louise O’Neill.
I want to start of this review by saying that I picked up this book because it is by Shappi Khorsandi. I am not the biggest fan of YA books and rarely read them but I love Shappi, and her stand up shows and wanted to give her debut novel a read. The second thing I want to say is that this book may fall into the older YA category – but as I don’t read YA I don’t really know and you can judge that for yourself. The third thing I want to say is that I loved it and hope very much that Shappi writes more.
Nina sort of knows that her drinking is getting more and more out of control. But being drunk helps her to forget that the her first love and long-term boyfriend hopped on a plane, found a new love and broke her heart. When’s she drunk everything is a little easier. When we meet Nina, she is getting kicked out of a nightclub for publically giving a blowjob to a stranger and the next thing she remembers is that she’s in a taxi clutching her knickers. What happened that she can’t remember?
This is a coming of age novel I wish had been written when I was coming of age. In a very funny, witty way it explores alcoholism and sexuality and how one can brutally affect the positive effects of the other. It explores rape, shame culture, and the horrific aspects of social media. When Nina starts to piece back events from the night she can’t remember she is faced with some very tough choices. Shappi has us living through ‘the worst version of’ Nina completely rooting for her to get to the other side. I knew what I wanted Nina to do but it was so easy for me to think those things – when Nina does what she needs to do I was cheering for her the whole time.
It isn’t just Nina whom I fell in love with. Beth, her best friend is me if I was white and a teenager – her feminist speeches made me grin and had me nodding in solidarity. She called out some of the double standards Nina faced for the decision she made and the assault she suffered.
This book is funny, raw, uncomfortable, and in paces it broke my heart. It’s real and one of my favourite reads of the year so far. I definitely recommend it.
Nina Is Not OK by Shappi Khorsandi is released on the 28th of July and will be available from all good and evil retailers. I was given a free ARC copy and that hasn’t influenced my opinions – I genuinely do love this book and urge you all to read it.