Content warning: alcoholism, rape.

Seventeen year old Nina likes to drink. Her mother likens her to her father — which is a less than ideal comparison when you consider he was an emotionally abusive alcoholic. Still, Nina’s not worried. As long as she’s got her five year old sister, her BFF and some vodka on hand, she’s happy.

In a brutally honest look at alcoholism, author Khorsandi shows us exactly how this is a disease — not a choice nor a weakness. Honestly, this is something I struggle to accept at times. As someone whose father was once an alcoholic, I can sound to be a complete hypocrite. I haven’t seen him since I was two, which has led to some hurt feelings (and lots of therapy). But Nina is Not OK will be staying on my shelf as a reminder that alcoholism is as much of an mental illness as the eating disorder I live with.

Get ready, you’re about to feel all the feels.

A shocking opener leads to an overly-intoxicated Nina being thrown out of a club alone. The man she was with, 21 year old Alex, follows her out with his mate. What happens next, Nina can’t remember. She eventually comes around in a taxi, knickers in her hand. Your stomach will turn with unease as Nina’s mind races — did she have sex with Alex? His friend? Or both, or neither?

Either way she can’t remember, but it’s clear she’s in no state to consent.

It sounds like I’ve given so much away, and yet I can promise you — these are no spoilers. The story continues in dips and dives as Nina’s drinking and drunken exploits spiral out-of-control. Her mental health takes hit after hit, plunging her to rock bottom. When you think she can do no worse, she finds a way.

If you hear of someone suffering from alcoholism, you may think “oh, that must be hard for them.” But Nina is Not OK shines a light on the effects it has on those surrounding those who are sick. Nina may not be thinking it, but her problem takes a clear toll on all those around her. Five year old Katie regularly hears her sister and Mum fighting over her, ahem, misadventures. Her best friend says that Nina goes too far each time, from a laugh to a nightmare who needs to be taken care of.

Seemingly seeking some form of validation and lacking in self-confidence, it’s heartbreaking to hear how Nina talks of herself. She’s desperate for love, but repeatedly thinks of how she’s only good for a one night stand. Pretty girls like her friend Lottie on the other hand, are girlfriend material and can be kept around.

You’ll laugh, you’ll cringe and you’ll cry. Nina is Not OK is an emotional ride. You’ll grip your book so tight, your knuckles may turn white.

(Did anyone else notice how that rhymed?)

A must-read for anyone interested in mental health, internal journeys, cringing and stories about consent. You can get Nina is Not Okay on Amazon right here.

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Liked this? I’d say you’d also like the dazzling tale of anorexia that is Nothing Tastes as Good.