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 lot 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.
Wow. Some books change you, and this is one of them. This was a harrowing read, to say the least. It was raw and real and made me anxious just reading it. I felt what Bea felt, all the roller coasters of emotions. It also made me examine my life and my decisions, which I never expected.
As for the “love story” aspect of this book, it was spot-on. Bea and Beck were so gosh-darn cute! I cheered them on as they fought their compulsions, and I nodded in sympathy once the reasons for their compulsions came to the forefront. When I came into this book, I expected a rather light, fluffy read about a girl falling for a guy and following him everywhere (clinging on to him, really). That’s not what I got at all, and I’m glad for that. This book was heavy and deep and emotional. But the relationship between Bea and Beck was really a line of happiness streaked through it. I’m glad they were able to find each other as kindred spirits. At first, their relationship seemed destructive (feeding off each other as enablers to their compulsions), but I’m glad they powered through and transformed their relationship (fueled by love) to build each other up.
Regarding the matter of OCD… I’m not sure how to feel. It hurt to see Bea’s condition escalate, but extremely cathartic to see her pull through. At the end, Beck mentioned they sometimes have to get a quick fix, but as long as they don’t go all the way with their compulsions, they’re all right. That struck a chord with me. I understand that.
For most people, reading this book redefines their thoughts on OCD. They confirm that they’re not OCD, they just care about keeping things neat and orderly. For me, I wound up reevaluating my actions since I was young. I had an issue with cracking my knuckles for about a year (from 8-9 years old). It got to the point where my knuckles were splitting and my joints became swollen. I know the feeling of guilt and shame afterwards, and I was astonished by Haydu’s ability to describe it. It makes me wonder if she’s had problems with compulsions in her past before too. Even now, years and years later, I still see repercussions of it on my fingers (like never being able to wear rings, because the end joint is smaller than the middle joint). I resolved the issue by promising myself never to crack my knuckles again after that year ended, and quitting cold turkey has worked. I haven’t cracked my knuckles in years. I’ve never gotten into drinking or smoking, since I’ve seen those vices spiral out of control in my own family. However, reading this book has made me question the differences between OCD and addiction. Is it OCD when these tics are instigated by some “deeper meaning” rather than short-term fulfillment? Is it OCD when it creates a release from anxiety rather than boredom? That’s something I wondered frequently when Jenny and Rudy’s OCD-tendencies were described. I think OCD creates a physical and mental need, while addiction is a habit that’s hard to break. I wish that distinction was made in the book, too — especially when Bea was first told of her diagnosis of OCD.
I’m glad that a lot of issues were addressed in this book. There were hints of bullying (in the sense that people stared and talked about Bea as if she were an alien). There were hints of Bea’s best friend Lisha’s problems too — financial issues, a drinking problem, eating disorders, and being an enabler for Bea’s behaviour. None of these were discussed in detail, since Bea spent most of the book absorbed in her own problems and dealing with her own issues. But this is also true of real life, where teens are so self-absorbed that they don’t take time to care or notice about all the things that others are dealing with. Still, it’s something that Bea noticed and I’m sure (sometime in the future) it’s something that she’d address with Lisha. Despite all of Lisha’s faults, they really did have a solid friendship, which is so beautiful and rare to find in YA.
This book is incredibly fresh and unique. It’s covered a hard-to-explain issue that’s often viewed as taboo in society and made it accessible. The problem with OCD is that it’s self-inflicted. There’s no cure for it, so it’s an uphill battle for those who suffer from it. At the very least, this book must make people with OCD feel as though they’re understood in the world. Many readers may feel otherwise, but this story describes the disorder realistically. OCD is something few people actually understand, and Haydu’s managed to capture it (and the reasons behind OCD behaviour) incredibly accurately. I wish this book could be read everywhere, by everyone, to create a more understanding and accepting world.
When I called this topic taboo, I meant it — I can think of very few books that address OCD.
- Grace’s Show of Strength – Alexandra Moss (definitely “younger,” but covers the pressures that lead up to OCD all the same)
- OCD, the Dude, and Me – Lauren Roedy Vaughn (I haven’t read this myself, but it seems relevant)
- “OCD” (Spoken Word) – Neil Hilborn
- The Boyfriend List (Ruby Oliver Series) – E. Lockhart