OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: July 23, 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: OCD, friendship, therapy, romance
Format read: ARC Paperback provided by Simon Teen (Thanks!)
Summary: During a blackout at a school dance, Bea meets Beck and helps him through a panic attack. She has no idea what he looks like until he shows up in her group therapy session at Dr. Pat’s. Bea is sure her and Beck have a ton in common, but her feelings for him don’t stop her from fixating on a musician, pinching her thigh, or saying the first thing that pops into her head. Her relationship with Beck isn’t the only thing on shaky ground; there’s also the future of her best friendship, and most importantly, the struggle to accept who she is and work through her past.
This book. THIS book.
Even though I loved them for the unique stories they were, I can only compare my OCD Love Story reading experience to Wild Awake. The cover promised me this bright, happy story and the inside gave me something entirely different. A female character dealing with demons, in denial about those demons, and going through hell to hopefully move one step forward. (Whether she knows it or not.) Both debuts are filled with bittersweet moments, difficult moments, happy/sweet moments, and force you to really take your time going through the pages. Both authors are extremely talented; great language usage and a main character full of personality. And just like with Wild Awake, I want you to love OCD Love Story as much as I did.
Bea has such an enthusiastic personality. She wants to be a costume designer. She likes hot chocolate. She loves boys! She also enjoys listening into her therapist’s session before hers. The compelling and beautiful couple that have sort of a sexless marriage. Then she starts noting their secrets in a mini notebook, and driving by their place… and things get messy. Even though Bea has been actively in therapy for a period of time and is now taking part in an OCD therapy group, she is convinced she is not the weird one. That she’s not ripping her hair out of her head or washing her hands until the skin flakes off so she is okay compared to everyone else.
The realization that she is not and can’t grasp exactly what she is doing — jeopardizing her best friendship, halting her potential romance with fellow OCD groupee, Beck — is painful to watch unfold. I had to close the book a few times and take a deep breath because I just wanted to help Bea and make it all better. But I couldn’t. Haydu does a great job showcasing different OCD cases without making it feel medicial or too technical. Instead there is always that underlying feeling that dealing with OCD is a process and even making strides does not mean you are all “fixed.”
As for romance, I really liked Bea and Beck together even though I couldn’t quite tell if they would get it together. At one point, Bea says something to Beck like: Let’s stop being weird about the shit that we do. But even this acceptance that Beck is obsessed with working out or Bea drives super slow on the highway no matter what the weather doesn’t always mean sunshine and butterflies for them. Their connection is strong and they do understand each other, but sometimes you are not sure if they are actually helping one another or enabling in some way. I was rooting for them so much, both individually and as a couple.
OCD Love Story is so skillfully written: from the vibrant dialogue to the hard to read moments and also to the detail planting that Haydu does so well. She carefully plops in little clues, meant to explain the events that led to Bea becoming so fixated on certain things. I was actively telling myself to pay attention to those small facts, stringing them together until the whole story pieced together rather nicely.
My favorite stories of any genre are the ones that make me curious, leave me thinking about the characters way after I’m finished with the book. I’m still wondering if Bea’s best friend was actually just a good friend or totally cold-hearted and not understanding enough. I’m thinking about Dr. Pat and her way she worked with her patients. And what about the musician and his wife? Haydu gives us such a multi-dimensional story that I feel like I need to read it again to pick up all the great details she lovingly pieced together in this story. Most importantly, she gave us a character to really care about even when it hurt to do so.
All I can say is: Bravo.