Review: Nina Is Not OK by Shappi Khorsandi

Nina Is Not OK by Shappi Khorsandi

Title: Nina Is Not OK
Author: Shappi Khorsandi
Genre: Contemporary
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Publisher: Ebury Press (28th July 2016)

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, funny – 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 Lena Dunham.


Rating: **** (4 stars)

NINA IS NOT OK is Shappi Khorsandi’s debut novel. It tells the story of seventeen-year-old Nina who has one more year to go before she is off to university, but a lot can happen in a year. Nina does not have a drinking problem, but she does enjoy going out and partying – what seventeen-year-old doesn’t? After one particular night out, things start to spin out of control.

Ebury Press kindly offered me the opportunity to read NINA IS NOT OK, and after reading the blurb I jumped at the chance. Going into the novel I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I can honestly say Khorsandi blew me away. At its heart NINA IS NOT OK is a story about growing up; it is not an easy read, but Nina’s story is a powerful one. Khorsandi touches on some interesting and complex ideas through the narrative, and I think she explores these ideas well. I think to say that NINA IS NOT OK is an “issues” book would be to sell it short. A lot of tough topics are touched on, things that a lot of women have to deal with or know of friends who have. NINA IS NOT OK is a really compelling story.

As I mentioned earlier, NINA IS NOT OK explores a lot of different subjects to great affect. The plot of the book basically follows Nina as she prepares for her A levels whilst things around her change. Friendship plays a huge part in the story. Nina has a core group of friends at the start of the novel, and we get to watch how things between them as they change over the course of the novel. The turning point in the novel occurs when something happens to Nina, as the blurb hints, and the rest of the book is about the repercussions of that event. I think Khorsandi writes this particularly well, and does a good job in showing the differing reactions to the event. My only slight niggle with the book was that I wish that there was more of it.

NINA IS NOT OK is very much a character driven novel. At the heart of the book lies its main character and narrator Nina, who when things begin is seventeen. Khorsandi gives Nina a really strong voice, and I found her to be a relatable character. It was really interesting to see things from her point of view, and I really enjoyed her narrative voice. Khorsandi does a brilliant job with the secondary characters. Nina’s relationship with her mum, half-sister and step-dad was well written and totally believable. I particularly enjoyed the way Khorsandi wrote Nina’s relationship with her little sister Katie. Nina’s relationships with her friends are also well written.

If you are looking for a new contemporary read with very little romance, then I highly recommend NINA IS NOT OK. Khorsandi tackles a difficult subject well, and tells a compelling story.

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