A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Teens will learn a great deal about various forms of OCD and anxiety disorders, dispelling the myth that OCD only presents itself in one way. The various triggers and symptoms of OCD are obvious in Bea, Beck, and their therapy mates; exposure therapy is also explained as a way to help people with OCD deal with their compulsions. Bea and Beck's unlikely love story will show readers how difficult it is for some people to deal with their personal anxieties and how much help they need to make it through the day without giving in to their compulsions.
The book encourages therapy -- and support from family/friends -- as the most important aspect of dealing with mental illness. Honesty and self awareness are also stressed, because Bea can't get better until she's truthful about her compulsions. Bea's comments about her feelings for Beck also show how much more meaningful sex is with someone you love rather than someone you don't want to disappoint.
Positive Role Models
Dr. Pat is a dedicated therapist who genuinely cares about her patients. She makes herself available outside of working hours to help distressed patients. Bea and Beck, despite their OCD, have good intentions and are there for each other unconditionally. Bea's best friend Lisa shows how fine the line is between support and enabling.
Violence & Scariness
There's no overt violence, but there are several moments readers may find disturbing: Bea is obsessed with the potential safety hazards around her and can't stop thinking about how various "normal" people do violent things, like kill with everyday objects. Bea keeps scrapbooks and journals filled with articles about violent crimes, car crashes, etc. An OCD character describes how his younger sister died; another picks at his face so much there are big scabs all over it; one character obsessively pulls her hair out. Bea's compulsion to "check in" on the objects of her obsession (like her ex-boyfriend) are stalkerish and creepy.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Bea is not a virgin and refers to her sexual experience on a few occasions. Two characters have sex, but it's not explicit, described more from both an emotional perspective and a physical one. Before they starting having sex, the characters kiss and make out several times -- in cars and on couches and beds. In the end, Bea explains the difference between having sex because you don't want to disappoint the other person or you "don't want to make it a big deal" and really wanting to because you care about and love the person.
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Occasional strong language includes "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "assh--e," "douchebag," and insults like "freak," "weirdo," "stalker," "ugly," and more.
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Products & Purchases
Occasionally the brand of a car is mentioned, like Volvo or Ford, or the prescription drug Zoloft.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
There's some underage drinking and mention of prescription drugs, as well as smoking. An adult whom Bea's obessed with smokes cigarettes, so she learns to smoke.
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.