Monday, June 09, 2014

Review: OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu

Title: OCD Love Story
Author: Corey Ann Haydu
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release date: July 23rd 2013
Pages: 352
Genre: Young Adult contemporary
Source: Bought
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When Bea meets Beck, she knows instantly that he's her kind of crazy. Sweet, strong, kinda-messed-up Beck understands her like no one else can. He makes her feel almost normal. He makes her feel like she could fall in love again.
But despite her feelings for Beck, Bea can't stop thinking about someone else: a guy who is gorgeous and magnetic... and has no idea Bea even exists. But Bea knows a ton about him. She spends a lot of time watching him. She has a journal full of notes. Some might even say she's obsessed.
Bea tells herself she's got it all under control, but this isn't a choice, it's a compulsion. The truth is, she's breaking down... and she might end up breaking her own heart.
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I was not expecting to love this book. The frankness of the title and the cutesy colors made me worry that this would be an unrealistic, simplified portrayal of mental illness. The only reason I bought it, really, is that Books of Wonder had a signed copy and I can just never resist signed books. It had been sitting on my TBR pile for almost a year until I finally got to it, but I'm so glad I did because I ended up loving it!

My worries about this being a stereotypical and simplified portrayal of OCD were completely unwarranted. I guess I can't really judge if the portrayal is authentic, but it felt that way to me. I appreciated that Bea does not have the stereotypical super-clean OCD or anything like that; she has obsessions and compulsions that are a lot more unusual than that. I really liked that we got to see so many different variations of OCD through all the different members of Bea's therapy group. At times, the descriptions were so raw that this story was hard to read; it was scary to see how bad Bea's condition had gotten, and all throughout the book, I was terrified of the moment it would all come crashing down. 

Although the book is called OCD Love Story, the focus is a lot more on the OCD than on the love story, which I personally really appreciated. I really liked having Bea as the main focus and her romance with Beck as only a secondary storyline. Bea is a great protagonist: she doesn't just personify her disorder but has a real personality, and I absolutely loved her. I also really enjoyed her friendship with Lisha - she's in an interesting character, and the decisions she has to make are moral dilemmas that are fascinating to think through for yourself. The romance with Beck is great, too: I loved seeing these two go back and forth between enabling and helping each other. I wish we had gotten some more insight into both of their pasts though: I wanted to know more about Beck's sister and about the stuff that happened between Bea and Jeff, how these things triggered their OCD. I also wish Bea's parents had played a more important role in the novel; they were absent throughout most of Bea's struggles.

Despite these little things that could have been elaborated on more, I absolutely loved OCD Love Story. It's a great balance of educating readers about mental disorders through its nuanced portrayal of a character with OCD and of simply telling a great story. I definitely recommend it!


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