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Friday, June 14, 2013

I Was Totally Loving It Until ...

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Danielle Levine's used to feeling like an outcast, even at her special school for "high-potential kids with learning disabilities."  Even there, her OCD makes her a total freak.  How does the 18-year-old with the unruly red hair deal?  By chronicling everything she thinks and feels in exhaustive detail.  She collects her writings—school essays, e-mails, letters, personal "me-moir" entries, etc.—in a perfectly organized, color-coded binder she hides under her bed.  

Since Danielle doesn't have much of a life in the first place, she's not expecting anything different from her senior year of high school.  She'll do what she always does—blend into the scenery, lust after gorgeous Jacob Kingston from afar, and, above all, keep her weird, obsessive rituals to herself.  The one place she can't seem to restrain herself, though, is in the essays she writes for English class.  That's how she ends up in an off-campus social skills class with kids who are even less communicative than her.  Her last year of high school cannot possibly get any worse, can it?

It can.

Danielle has a place to vent all her anger, humiliation, self-loathing and fear, not to mention a cool aunt who always gives excellent advice.  But, Danielle still longs for a real friend, someone her age who understands her.  Jacob would do very nicely.  Too bad that option's about as likely as Danielle fitting into a pair of size 2 jeans.  Fortunately, friendship is closer than it seems.  So is happiness.  Even for a chubby ginger with a major case of OCD. 

The first thing that drew me into OCD, The Dude, and Me, a debut novel by Lauren Roedy Vaughn, is the voice.  Vaughn's a high school teacher English teacher, who's definitely got the lingo down.  Danielle feels authentic, like a real teenager struggling with all the problems with which real teenagers struggle every day.  But, it's her painfully distorted view of herself that makes her so sympathetic.  Because I found Danielle such a compelling heroine, I enjoyed all her jottings about life, love and The Big Lebowski.  In fact, I was loving everything about the novel—until Daniel came along.  Not only does he embody one of the biggest clichés in contemporary YA lit, but he also has some disturbing quirks and illegal hobbies.  Why those things needed to be mentioned is beyond me, since honestly, they contributed nothing to the story and made me think less of both Daniel and Danielle.  Call me a prude, but there you go.  Overall, I found OCD, The Dude, and Me engrossing, but the Daniel thing really derailed my enjoyment of the book.  Which is a real bummer.  

(Readalikes:  Reminds me a little bit of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

 for strong language (a handful of F-bombs, plus milder invectives), sexual innuendo/content and depictions of illegal drug use

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of OCD, The Dude, and Me from the generous folks at Dial (an imprint of Penguin Books) via those at Pump Up Your Book Promotion.  Thank you!


  1. Okay, I have to have this one. I have OCD too and I'm always interested in how authors treat it.

  2. I like reading books with characters who have some form of psychological challenge, but not so sure about this one after reading your review.

  3. Another interesting book about someone with OCD, but non-fiction, is Saving Sammy. Can't remember the author's name (Sammy's mother) but highly recimmended. Oh, and a novel with a main character with OCD (also recommended) is Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes.


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