OCD Love Story Book Poster Image

OCD Love Story

Unique novel about OCD teens in love is disturbing but good.

What parents need to know

Educational value

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.

Positive messages

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

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.

Sex

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.

Language

Occasional strong language includes "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "assh--e," "douchebag," and insults like "freak," "weirdo," "stalker," "ugly," and more.

Consumerism

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.

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.

Parents say

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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?

QUALITY

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.

Families can talk 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?

Book details

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
Number of pages:352
Publisher's recommended age(s):14 - 17
Available on:Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle

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Teen, 15 years old Written byadrian4556 April 22, 2016

interesting

Ok so I checked this book out from my school library and I started reading it and it got kinda weird cause as I kept reading into the book I started noticing I started having issues like Bae had and it was really weird and as I got closer to the end the less I was affected then in the end i was like totally like her. like I couldn't even spend money cause I was afraid of losing it and i know I will never see it again. then I finished the book and it mostly stopped I still felt a little attached to random objects still but other than that when I turned in the book it all stopped and I felt normal again. Vodo or am i just way to much into books?
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 15 years old Written bysstauss September 8, 2016

Romance Fanatic Strikes Again

This book is really good, but focused more towards highschool students!! Not explicit scenes, but making out/ kissing is present. Along with the therapy sessions there's a couple 'different,' kids- one picks his face, another girl tears her hair out... litterally. Strong themes, but not a ton of sex or violence.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models