OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I thoroughly enjoyed reading the way this story unabashedly goes full-on into the minds of teens with OCD. The way it manifests itself in the MC Bea and the boy, Beck, who has an anxiety attack when the lights go out at a school dance. Bea knows how to help Beck get through this. She's been there before herself. Recalling the way Dr. Pat would talk her through an anxiety attack, she helps Beck do the same. Then he's gone. But not before they've kissed in the dark.
Bea's friend Lisha is straight up and blunt with her whenever her compulsions show up, invading their time together. She's only got Bea, and admission to Harvard to help her get through the year. Bea has her notebooks. Scrapbooks, really, filled with all the details and clippings and notes she's written down to keep track of those people she compulses about.
Then there's the way she sees the world, the secret clues hidden everywhere, if only you'd look for them, see them the way Bea sees things. She's a very conscientious driver, so much so, she's likely to slow down and circle the block "just in case" she's accidentally run over someone or something, or she may have dented the side of her car, and she'd better just check, just in case...
Bea's past has been suppressed, due to the trauma and violence she witnessed by a boy she used to be in love with. Well, she was more or less obligated to make sure he's safe and okay and she'd better keep checking up on him. That is, until the restraining order keeps her away, and she winds up in therapy with Dr. Pat.
Then, Bea starts compulsing about a new couple, the gorgeous hipster couple Austin and Sylvia, who just happen to have a session before hers. When she sits in just the right chair, she can even overhear all of their most vulnerable and intimate session details, which she has to just take notes on in her notebook with the pink star on the cover. Eventually, she follows them to their house and writes details about their apartment, about Sylvia's smoking habit, and then she's developing her own habit so she can bum a cigarette off Sylvia, just to make sure she and Austin are okay. Never mind it takes her four hours to get to their apartment, when she's got to slow down her driving, just in case. Accidents happen when you least expect it, and she's got to know if Austin and Sylvia are safe.
But, when Bea begins group therapy, and discovers that Beck is in the same group, she finds herself irresistibly attracted to him and his compulsions. He's obsessive about clean hands, so much that his skin is dry and cracked and flaking off. And, he works out. Too much. He's got massive muscles and a thing with the number eight. As Bea and Beck get to know each other, Bea's secrets get bigger and bigger. Can she keep it up, and keep Beck's interest, even though she's stalking Austin and Sylvia in all her spare time?
And, just as Beck begins to face his problems and try to get better, Bea gets worse, unable to stop herself from hurtling head first into the personal lives of Austin and Sylvia, who have a band and records, the musical group Tryst.
When Dr. Pat begins practicing therapy that forces each group member to their breaking point, Bea struggles to keep all of her secrets going, and her lies covering her tracks. When it's time for an intervention, Bea's friend Lisha and Beck get involved, and every secret finds a way to rise to the surface. When Bea's secrets come out, will she be able to convince Beck to stick around? Or will her compulsions drive him and everyone else away?
Tragically funny, genuine and heartfelt, this was a read that bravely faces all the nuances someone with OCD suffers through, giving insight to those who may only have a mild understanding of what OCD is truly like. Powerfully written, I enjoyed how the story unravels, taking the reader beyond the point of return, and through to the other side.
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