A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that OCD Love Story is realistic teen fiction that tackles an uncomfortable subject: high schoolers with OCD. An at times unnerving romance about two teens with extreme compulsions, the book includes mature descriptions of sex, lots of OCD rituals and behavior (such as stalking, constant exercising, tapping, hair pulling, and more), and a few instances of underage smoking and drinking. There's occasional strong language as well as some disturbing explanations of how to stalk someone. Despite the heavy themes, the book will make readers sympathetic to young people struggling with mental illness.
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What's the story?
When the lights go out during a private school mixer, Bea hears someone having a panic attack, moves near the stranger to offer comfort and ends up kissing the guy in the dark. The guy -- Beck -- and Bea end up reacquainting themselves in group therapy for teens with OCD. Only Bea doesn't feel comfortable with the diagnosis, preferring to think of her stalkerish tendencies and various safety anxieties as idiosyncracies or the result of a bad breakup. As Bea and Beck (a germaphobe and compulsive exerciser who does everything in increments of eight) start their OCD LOVE STORY, Bea secretly indulges her obsession with Sylvia and Austin, a glamorous couple she spots at her therapist's office. Bea struggles to give her heart to Beck -- the one guy who really understands her -- when she can't stop thinking about Austin.
Is it any good?
In her first novel for teens, author Corey Ann Haydu skillfully tackles a most uncomfortable topic. Bea isn't exactly a likable character; she's an unreliable narrator who can't see the truth for most of the story: She's extremely obsessive compulsive, and her need to check in on (eavesdrop, follow home, call, etc.) Sylvia and Austin (and her ex-boyfriend, who took out a restraining order) isn't just a quirk; it's disturbing. Readers will want to cringe as Bea's mental illness makes her (and Beck) perform certain rituals, like driving less than 30 mph and turning around and around to make sure she didn't hit anyone or anything. But thanks to Haydu's excellent writing, Bea manages to remain someone you root for and hope gets better.
Bea and Beck's relationship isn't the typical swoony literary romance. Their first "proper" date is tragicomically filled with OCD obstacles -- he can't stop washing his hands or tapping the table eight times, and she can't stop focusing on the pointy utensils as safety threats. Still, they make sense together, in a dysfunctional but sweet way. They understand, although they each exhibit a different form of OCD, what the other's triggers are and why they just have to do seemingly irrational things. After getting through group and exposure therapy together, Bea and Beck share a remarkable commitment to each other that's touching and intimate. In the end, although much has gone wrong for them, they -- with a lot of a help -- realize that life can and does indeed get better.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about books about mental illness. Why are they important for teens to read, even if they're uncomfortable? How are Bea and Beck an unlikely romance in contemporary YA fiction?
Do you think OCD Love Story may help readers recognize obsessive compulsive behavior and anxiety disorders they might be dealing with? How can readers learn from Bea, Beck, and their therapy group and seek out help if they're suffering from anxiety or OCD?
How does the book portray teenage sexuality? What do you think about the fact that Bea is more sexually experienced than most YA protagonists? How does her attitude about sex and relationships change over the course of the novel?
- Author: Corey Ann Haydu
- Genre: Contemporary Fiction
- Topics: Friendship, High School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Simon Pulse
- Publication date: July 23, 2013
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 17
- Number of pages: 352
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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