What is this about: Courtney is struggling with the idea that she might be going crazy thinking aliens are visiting her, just like her grandfather once did. The same grandfather who tried to kill her, and stuck her with a tattoo she doesn’t understand.
What else is this about?: What if you’re a 15 year old girl, trying to navigate teenage-dom and life in general, when you discover your mind is betraying you? No one believes you and you feel like you can’t trust anyone with your truth and it’s just you.
Should you read: YES.
Blurb: Fifteen-year-old Courtney Hoffman is determined not to go insane like her grandfather did right before he tried to drown her when she was seven. But something is happening to her. She’s being visited in her bedroom at night by aliens who claim to have shared an alliance with her now-dead grandfather. And Courtney knows that aliens aren’t real, which means she must be going crazy. And her mother has zero tolerance for craziness.
Then Courtney meets Agatha Kirlich, a mysterious older girl with sleuthing skills and alien-obsession issues of her own. Together, armed with ancient stories of a human-alien bloodline, a few photographs, and the creepy tattoo left on Courtney’s rib cage by her grandfather, the girls embark on a mission to uncover the truth about Courtney’s alien visitors. Ultimately, Courtney must put her fears aside, defy her mother, embrace her true identity, and risk everything in order to save herself and the world.
The Alienation of Courtney Hoffman was nothing like I expected, in fact, I still feel breathless after reading it – I’m half convinced this would be an amazing graphic novel, giving a visual representation to Brady Stefani’s imagination, and showing what Courtney’s reality is. But, back to the novel: Stefani manages to keep up a breakneck pace through the novel, never letting up as Courtney sets out on a journey to discover the truth about her past and well, aliens.
Courtney thinks she’s going crazy, because she sees aliens and people she’s never met before. And hears them. And they can hear her, which all in all is pretty frightening for a 15-year-old kid surrounded by a normal life, mother and sister and who wants desperately to be normal. She should be experiencing life’s normal problems, from bitching about her mum’s awful boyfriend to her friends and worrying about school. Instead, Courtney is worrying she’s crazy, just like her grandfather.
In the beginning, I have to admit, it took me a long while to get used to Courtney’s voice, to her straightforward, almost frenetic way of speaking – in my head, this might just be all me – but as the book progressed, and I realised she’s trying to make sense of a whole heap of disturbing things in her life, the urgency in her voice began to make sense too. Would you be any less if you thought you were going crazy?
Stefani lays out a family history for Courtney, one that he slowly reveals as the book goes on – to readers and Courtney, turning the narrative for both on its head. I feel like I would’ve liked to have known more about her grandfather, yes, the man who tried to kill her and how he affected her life but this is Courtney’s story – her journey to making sense of this world she’s been thrust into and learning to rely on herself.
It’s difficult to tell you more about the book without venturing into spoiler territory, but suffice to say, it’s for anyone who thought they who didn’t fit in no matter how hard they tried and realised sometimes you really don’t have to.