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Book Review | Nina is Not OK by Shappi Khorsandi

Nina is Not OK by Shappi Khorsandi {Goodreads}
Published by Ebury Press in 2017
Paperback edition; 352 pages {BookDepository}

Nina is not OK is a coming of age story about Nina, a 17-year-old in her last year of college and about to do her A-levels who likes drinking – maybe a little bit too much; a lot actually. So much that most of the time she has troubles remembering what she does during those crazy nights and that’s how we meet her: after she’s been thrown out of a nightclub after being caught in a sexual activity. The next morning she’s not sure of either what she did and what she didn’t and the shame she feels is overwhelming. She promises herself she will never drink again but that is easy said than done. Shappi Khorsandi tackles the difficult topic that is addiction through the experiences of an alcoholic teenager.

This book took me completely by surprise and it broke my heart more than a little. The first half of the story is about Nina’s wild nights – and days considering that by lunchtime most days she has already swollen down 3 mini-bottles of Vodka. This first half is a bit repetitive because it’s always the same and it’s frustrating to read actually. She keeps getting really drunk, doing stupid things and then she tries to convince others and herself that she’s okay, that she doesn’t have a problem. But she does. She truly does and more often than not I was so frustrated with her, I just wanted to scream at her face. She’s an alcoholic; she suffers from a very severe addiction but she’s blind to it and although I’ve never suffered any of this or know somebody who has I believe the portrayal of addiction to be very accurate, terrifyingly so.

The second half is when the book truly picks up and I became so emotionally invested in Nina’s story. I felt so much for her and for the horrible things she had to endure. It is horrible but it allows Khorsandi to deal with very heavy topics and send a very strong message to readers. It is told with frank and brutal honesty but it also makes the reader laugh with its self-deprecating sense of humour. Some of the scenes might trigger certain readers since everything is told quite graphically and a lot of the situations Nina gets involved in are not easy but I believe this to be an important read and one I highly recommend.


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