New Release Book Review: Nina Is Not Ok by Shappi Khorsandi

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Title: Nina Is Not Ok
Author: Shappi Khorsandi
Published: July 28th 2016
Publisher: Ebury Press
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Length: 352 pages
Source: NetGalley eARC

Book Blurb (via Goodreads):

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.

My Thoughts

Tackling an important topic, I was keen to pick up this book and see how it handled talking about topics such as rape and victim shaming. I’ve read a few books this past year that tackled this topic and though each one took a slightly different approach, I found them all to be sensitive to the situation and yet still get across how serious these attacks are. Nina Is Not Ok is no exception.

When Nina wakes up after a particularly wild night out, she has a blank spot in her memory that makes her queasy. What exactly happened after she was kicked out of the club but before she was in a taxi on her way home with her underwear in her hand? All she remembers is making out with a guy. Trying to put the night behind her, Nina feels uneasy when her best friend mentions to her the guy she hooked up with at the club – the same one that Nina made out with. When their relationship progresses, Nina battles with whether or not she should tell her friend about her unease.  When keeping things secret is no longer an option, Nina has to fight for the true events of that evening and she only has her attacker’s version to go on.

It’s difficult sometimes, to read books like this, because they can make you so angry that you want to throw the book – or e-reader – across the room. I’ve felt in a few books that the girl not immediately going to the police after the rape occurred to be the most infuriating thing – and yet I know that the thought process for rape victims is likely to make this their most common action because of the amount of victims who aren’t believed or have to fight so hard to be believed. With Nina, she doesn’t even know if anything happened and that just made it worse. To see her trying to figure out just exactly what happened to her and if she was even attacked in the first place.

But then it gets worse. When she knows for sure that she was attacked, by this point she’s lost her best friend and the evidence of the attack is all over the internet – though it puts her in a bad light more than anything else. The whole situation just made me feel angry and uneasy and it was horrible to read.

The fact that Nina carried on as normal for as long as she did was admirable but what struck me the most was how her parents and friends rallied around her when she spoke about it. The whole story is an interesting look at how a rape victim is shamed and made to feel guilty because she had been on a night out and enjoying herself. Nina does appear to have a drinking problem throughout the story, but I think this escalated because of her fears over the attack.

It’s a harsh, honest, look at the after-effects of rape and how quickly things can escalate when the victim is made to feel ashamed for something out of their control. While I wouldn’t say I enjoyed this book exactly, I found Nina to be a girl I wanted to be okay, a girl that I needed to know the ending of her story.

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About the Author

Shaparak “Shappi” Khorsandi (born 8 June 1973) is an Iranian-born British comedian.

The daughter of Hadi Khorsandi, her family was forced to flee from Iran to London after the Islamic Revolution following the publication of a satirical poem her father composed. The poem was perceived as being critical of the revolutionary regime. Shappi was raised without any religion.
Khorsandi graduated from the University of Winchester in 1995, with a degree in Drama, Theatre and Television, then moving onto pursue a career in comedy. In 2010, the University honoured her by awarding her an honourary doctorate.
Khorsandi was married to fellow comedian Christian Reilly, by whom she has a son named Charlie. They divorced in 2010. She lives with her son in west London near Richmond Park. Her father and brother are also stand-up comedians.

Khorsandi performs stand-up comedy, having been a noted performer at Joe Wilson’s Comedy Madhouse throughout 1997. She has appeared on many BBC Radio 4 programmes, including Quote… Unquote, Loose Ends, You and Yours, Midweek, Just A Minute, The Now Show and The News Quiz, as well as BBC Television’s Have I Got News For You. In July 2009 she hosted her own four-part series, Shappi Talk on BBC Radio 4, examining what it is like growing up in multi-cultural families. She also writes an occasional column for online magazine Iranian.com.
In 2007, she made her first trip to Australia and the Melbourne Comedy Festival with her show Asylum Speaker. She also appeared live on the Australia comedy talk show Rove. Later, she was nominated for best breakthrough act at the 2007 Chortle Awards. In December 2008, she appeared on the BBC stand-up television show Live at the Apollo alongside Russell Kane and Al Murray. She also made an appearance on Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow on 20 June 2009, Friday Night with Jonathan Ross on 26 June 2009 and 8 Out of 10 Cats on 10 July 2009.
Khorsandi’s memoir, A Beginner’s Guide to Acting English, was published by Ebury Press on 2 July 2009. She performed her show, The Distracted Activist, at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe from 6–31 August 2009.
She was a panellist on Question Time in 2006, and returned on 14 January 2010. During that show, she mentioned that her political support goes to Labour. She performed on the second episode of Let’s Dance for Sport Relief 2010.
In 2010, Khorsandi took part in Channel 4’s Comedy Gala, a benefit show held in aid of Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, filmed live at the O2 Arena in London on 30 March. She appeared as a guest in Genius hosted by Dave Gorman on 31 October 2010. Khorsandi appeared on Channel 4’s The Celebrity Bank Job in March 2012 and won £59,000 for her chosen charities.

Goodreads

*Picture and Biography from Goodreads

6 thoughts on “New Release Book Review: Nina Is Not Ok by Shappi Khorsandi

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