Book Review: OCD, The Dude, and Me by Lauren Roedy Vaughn

OCD, The Dude And Me CoverBook: OCD, The Dude, and Me by Lauren Roedy Vaughn

Published March 2013 by Dial Books|234 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Blog Graphic-What It's About

With frizzy orange hair, a plus-sized body, sarcastic demeanor, and “unique learning profile,” Danielle Levine doesn’t fit in even at her alternative high school. While navigating her doomed social life, she writes scathing, self-aware, and sometimes downright raunchy essays for English class. As a result of her unfiltered writing style, she is forced to see the school psychologist and enroll in a “social skills” class. But when she meets Daniel, another social misfit who is obsessed with the cult classic film The Big Lebowski, Danielle’s resolve to keep everyone at arm’s length starts to crumble.

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

I didn’t like OCD, The Dude And Me as much as I thought I would.  It really seemed like a book I would like, but I ended up being slightly disappointed.

For one thing, she doesn’t seem to be OCD at all, which is weird for a couple reasons.  One, we see her inner thoughts, so it’s weird that it doesn’t come up.  And two, other than needing her books to organized in a certain way, and being upset that they get knocked over and doesn’t have time to re-organize, or a reference to flicking a light switch on and off…I didn’t get the OCD part of it all.  She definitely has social anxiety, and possibly PTSD, but OCD seems random.  Because of the diary/essay format, she comes across as quirky more than anything else.

Two: I didn’t get her obsession with The Big Lebowski, which only shows up in the last third of the book, and for no reason.  If she’s so obsessed with it, why did it randomly come up?  I’ve never actually seen The Big Lebowski, so unless there are references in the book I’m not picking up on because of that, it seems to be a non-factor.

Three: For someone who’s supposed to be a senior in high school, she writes a lot younger than that.  The whole prom thing was slightly confusing, because I really forgot most of the time that she was older than she sounded.

Four: The essay and diary format was interesting but it felt like overkill and a little too much.  Granted, there were a few times where I couldn’t help but laugh, but it would randomly switch between essays, journal entries, notes, and letters, and it felt really jumbled and not very coherent.  Which is sort of understandable, given we get some inner thoughts, and it flowed okay, but not well enough.

Five: We don’t see much reflection or change in Danielle.  She seems to remain pretty much the same the entire book, and she fell pretty flat.  Also, for someone who hasn’t had a friend in years, she seemed to get close to Daniel pretty fast, which is surprising, considering she seems to have a lot of anxiety about talking to people. Maybe it’s because of the format, but given the format, I felt like we should have seen even a slightly different Danielle by the end of the book.

Six: What is so alternative about this high school?  All of the kids seem to be be perfectly fine, and it didn’t make sense why it was so alternative, because really, it came across as your typical high school.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

2 stars.  It was okay, but not the book I expected.  I’m feeling pretty ambivalent about the book.

Book Review: Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

Every Last Word CoverBook: Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

Published June 2015 by Disney Press|257 pages

Where I Got It: I own the e-book

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

If you could read my mind, you wouldn’t be smiling.

Samantha McAllister looks just like the rest of the popular girls in her junior class. But hidden beneath the straightened hair and expertly applied makeup is a secret that her friends would never understand: Sam has Purely-Obsessional OCD and is consumed by a stream of dark thoughts and worries that she can’t turn off.

Second-guessing every move, thought, and word makes daily life a struggle, and it doesn’t help that her lifelong friends will turn toxic at the first sign of a wrong outfit, wrong lunch, or wrong crush. Yet Sam knows she’d be truly crazy to leave the protection of the most popular girls in school. So when Sam meets Caroline, she has to keep her new friend with a refreshing sense of humor and no style a secret, right up there with Sam’s weekly visits to her psychiatrist.

Caroline introduces Sam to Poet’s Corner, a hidden room and a tight-knit group of misfits who have been ignored by the school at large. Sam is drawn to them immediately, especially a guitar-playing guy with a talent for verse, and starts to discover a whole new side of herself. Slowly, she begins to feel more “normal” than she ever has as part of the popular crowd…until she finds a new reason to question her sanity and all she holds dear.

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

This book is so, so special!  It’s my favorite book of the year so far, and I love it for so many reasons!

Like, I love that there’s a book about a character who’s OCD.  It’s nice to see a book about someone who’s not depressed/suicidal.  Don’t get me wrong, there are some fantastic books that deal with depression/suicide, but it’s really nice to see a book that deal with mental illness- and something that’s not depression.  Reading this book really makes me want to read more books that deal with mental illness that’s not depression.

I also love that she sees a psychiatrist, and that we actually see her sessions- and that while she worries about her friends finding out, she does work hard to not let it take over her life.  I loved that she had swimming and that she had the Poet’s Corner, and that poetry became such a great outlet for her.  The poetry throughout the book was beautiful, and she has such good friends in the Poet’s Corner.

The ending had me crying, and it was one I didn’t see coming, but at the same time, it somehow fit with what was going on in Sam’s life.

I also really liked the aspect of Sam’s friendships with the popular girls.  It was interesting to see her have such toxic relationships, and how hard it was for her to let them go because they had such a shared history.  But she really did become a lot stronger than she already was, and she really become someone completely amazing.

The note that Stone had at the end of the book was also really nice to read because it felt like Stone put a lot of care into the book, and into making sure that her portrayal of Sam was authentic and accurate as possible. Something about Sam’s story rang true, and while it isn’t representative of every single experience of OCD,  I also thought it was a really great representation of one person’s story.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

5 stars.  I think this book is really special and amazing, and words cannot express how much I loved this book!