I was given this book on the London Bookshop Crawl by my friend Bex with very little idea of what to expect. I love Shappi Khorsandi’s comedy so the fact that she’d written it was a big selling point for me. Despite me having no idea of expectations this book still managed to surpass them.
Nina Is Not OK is about seventeen year old Nina, whose dad drinks himself to death when she’s nine, shortly after her boyfriend moves to Hong Kong. Her drunken exploits are notorious at college, she’s drinking more and more and insists she doesn’t have a problem. But she can’t remember one night in particular and the situations she’s getting herself in to are becoming far more dangerous.
I cried a lot reading this book. Personally, Nina’s path is one I narrowly escaped; my dad didn’t die of alcoholism until I was twenty, so I grew up very aware of the dangers of alcohol and skipped that whole teenage-rebellion-drinking-until-you-puke stage until I was a lot older than Nina and was angry enough to lash out at everything and everyone. I could have very easily been her.
The bits that got me in the story, though, were Nina’s thoughts on what might have happened if her dad had lived long enough to get help. It’s something that occurs to you daily when you lose someone to addiction and Shappi Khorsandi writes it very very well, as well as that weird juxtaposition between life then and now, and how hard it is to feel like you fit in to a life without that chaos and worry daily.
It was a much harder read than I was expecting, and is warn heavily for sexual assault, rape and talk of addiction and death from it. But it’s also very hopeful. Nina is not OK, but you feel like she will be.