Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Don't Touch

Caddie doesn't like to touch people and gets very anxious at even the prospect of people touching her. It started out as a game to play to cope with the turmoil in her family. Now that her parents have split up, it's an all consuming mantra. Maybe if she can keep from touching another person skin to skin, her dad will come back. She knows it sounds crazy and it probably doesn't effect anything, but she can't help it all the same. Despite the heat of the summer and the humidity, Caddie covers her whole body in clothing, even wearing evening gloves to school. Then things get tricky. She makes new friends and reconnects with an old friend that notice her weird quirks. Being cast as Ophelia in the school play won't make it any easier when she will be expected to interact and touch other actors, including Peter, her crush and the one cast as Hamlet. She wants to have a real relationship, but can't get the mantra out of her head.

Caddie has obsessive compulsive disorder, which is an anxiety disorder marked by fear or worry and repetitive behaviors aimed at lessening the anxiety. Her thoughts and fears may seem ridiculous to the reader and one might wonder why she doesn't just stop, but it's not that easy. I was very pleased with how the condition is treated in the book. Caddie does understandably work to keep it from everyone. She recognizes the behavior and thoughts are out of the ordinary and doesn't want her friends to think she's a freak. The condition affects everything in her life: her friendships, her crush, her school work, and her family. When it's revealed that she has this, her friends and family are accepting. They understandably feel a little sad that she hid it from them. I'm glad she wasn't demonized or mocked for having this disorder that she can't control and I'm glad she sought help from a professional in the end. The only unrealistic aspect was how fast the OCD was gotten over and her behavior returned to normal. It would have actually taken years in therapy and probably at least a few tries to get the correct kind and amount of medication.

The plot was fine and moved well. Her friends were an interesting group that didn't always get along, which I found realistic. I really hated Oscar because he would push people's boundaries and make them uncomfortable for fun. The romance was cute and a little frustrating. Whenever something wouln't go as planned, Peter would make random assumptions and the couple wouldn't communicate well. Other than that, I had no problems with the book. I felt it accurately portrayed the mental illness and wasn't judgmental or condemning. It's nice to see books like this because people can better understand and empathize with people who have mental illnesses.

My rating: 4/5 fishmuffins

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