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Kissing Doorknobs (Laurel-Leaf Books) Mass Market Paperback – November 9, 1999

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Despite recent media attention, obsessive-compulsive disorder remains perplexing to those who haven't experienced the illness firsthand. In her compassionate debut novel, Terry Spencer Hesser skillfully and credibly explains exactly what OCD feels like, as well as the effects it has on surrounding friends and family. Tara Sullivan first encounters her compulsive behavior at age 11, when she hears of the sidewalk game "Step on a crack, break your mother's back." Most people have had the experience of toying with this rhyme, but for Tara, it becomes something worse: "I couldn't not think the thoughts. And I couldn't not count the cracks." In one of several compulsive rituals, she must count every sidewalk crack between her house and school. If she is ever interrupted or loses her place, she must run back to the beginning and start over, or her mother's spinal health will be endangered. She recognizes this as absurd behavior, and gets absolutely no pleasure from the exercise, yet nonetheless feels inexplicably compelled to perform it.

Hesser traces the arc of Tara's illness through several misdiagnoses, the expansion of her compulsive behaviors (obsessive prayer rituals and the need to touch the doorknob then kiss her fingers 33 times before leaving the house), and the reactions of her loved ones. Tara's sister responds by beating up anyone who makes fun of the compulsions, her anguished mother's answer is increasing violence toward her daughter, and friends alternate between acceptance and frustration. Deftly illustrating the depth of Tara's strained relationships, Hesser also addresses anorexia, shoplifting, drug use, and unsafe sex, subtly reinforcing the idea that these behaviors--though perhaps compulsions as well--are different from OCD in that they inspire some measure of enjoyment for the participant. Nominated by the Young Adult Library Services Association as one of 1998's Best Books for Young Adults, Kissing Doorknobs addresses a cutting-edge issue with grace, humor, and insight. While the novel refuses to make false promises, it provides an inspiring message of hope. (Ages 12 and older) --Brangien Davis --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

A first-time author portrays the thoughts and behaviors of an 11-year-old girl suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder with "a singularly compassionate wit," said PW in a starred review. Ages 12-up. (Nov.)n
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Mass Market Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Laurel Leaf (November 9, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440413141
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440413141
  • Product Dimensions: 4.8 x 0.5 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #207,002 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By 7th Grade Student on March 6, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I think the book Kissing Doorknobs is a must read. It's an incredible story and gives a lot of information on OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). This book is about a girl named Tara who discovers she is paying more attention to the cracks on the sidewalk after she hears the rhyme, "Step on a crack and break your mother's back." Slowly her problems get worse she talks to trolls, kisses the front doorknob every time she wants to leave the house, prays every time someone swears in front of her, worries about her parents staying out late, stays up until they get home, and organizes her food before she eats it. These problems become noticed by classmates who begin teasing her. Her sister, Greta, wants to defend Tara and will even beat people up for her.
Tara's mother gets really frustrated with Tara and hits her every time she kisses the doorknob. She repeatedly goes to psyciatrists that can't seem to help her. This continues until Tara's dad has a visitor over. This visitor knows about OCD and suggests that OCD might be what is causing Tara's problems. He gives her the name of a special psychiatrist that can help her, and the name and number of one of the doctor's patients. Tara does visit the "special" psyciatrist even though she "hates" her. She meets Sam, who has problems with washing his hands to often, and they begin to get involved...until and unexpected event happens and it changes everything
Thsi book is one of the best books I have read in a long time. I couldn't wait to pick it up and let the book pull me in and fill the environment around me with it's vivid details. I had to be forced to put it down because this book was the kind of book that you want to finish reading once you start it because of the suspense. I woiuld recommend it to anyone because of it's quality. I loved this book and hope there will be a sequal because of how abrupt the ending was.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Sarrah on March 28, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Story about a girl's downward spiral through obsessive compulsive disorder. Realistic details that anyone suffering OCD can relate to. It's a wonderful book. I cried after the first page because I knew how this girl felt.

It's the only novel I have ever read about OCD that I wanted to read again. It's written for young adults, but, is enjoyable for all ages.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 20, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Terry Spencer Hesser is an awesome author and she really knows how to make situations real. She made the novel "Kissing Doorknobs" a intresting story- also heartwarming. This book is about a girl named Tara facing OCD. Eveyone around Tara is falling apart because of her strange rituals-even her own family. Every time her mother swears she always prays and her mother hates it. Throughout the book Tara goes through many changes in her OCD.Such rituals include touching the doorknob and kissing her hand, countin cracks in the sidewalk and walking over every crack, having hideous thoughts that her mother or father were dead in a ditch somewhere. Whenever someone would make fun of Tara her little sister Greta would go beat them up for her. Greta got suspended about three time throughout the book.Tara has a bunch of friends. One of her friends is a evil person. Donna her friend smokes and shoplifts. Tara once tried to shoplift but she turned herself in. Towards the end of the book she meets a boy who has OCD too. She never knew anyone else had the same thing she had. Sam (the boy with OCD) introduces Tara to a therapist for OCD. Tara goes to therapy and stops her rituals. Sometimes she can't help but to them but other times she can stop herself. I think people of all ages should read this book because its has good facts in it. This novel also presents another exellent idea. You should never treat a person with OCD any different from another person. Tara's friends only treat Tara different when Tara was freaking out. If you want a good book to read go to your library and check out "Kissing Doorknobs" I guarentee that you won't want to put it down once you pick it up.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Dannielle Albert on September 11, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
As I was reading Kissing Doorknobs, I was connecting with the main character, Tara, in so many ways! I could relate to everything that Tara did, said, felt or thought. I was thinking, "This girl is just like me! She has the same problems that are `strange' and `weird' and doesn't know why she has stupid thoughts!" Well, it turned out Tara was not crazy, she just had OCD. (Obsessive-Compulsive-Disorder.) Little did I know, that 3 years later, I was about to find out why my life seemed so much like hers. I came into the doctor's office in 10th grade, 3 years after reading a book which made me almost sure I had OCD too. I initially went to see my doctor about sleeping problems, and came out diagnosed with OCD. "This explains everything!" I told my mom later. All my weird obsessions and rituals are all explained-and I'm not the only one in the world who has it either!" The solution to my problem was solved. I felt so much better, and I loved to see how there are other people out there with this mental disability such as myself. It was humorous, helpful, and thought provoking all in one. I highly recommend this book to anyone who thinks that they might be a little "weird!" :)
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on March 16, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Kissing Doorknobs" by Terry Spencer Hesser is about a girl named Tara who has obssesive-compulsive disorder. She does not know she has it so her, her friends, and her family think she is crazy. All her friends stop hanging out with her, because of all the strange things she does. Also, her parents fight a lot, because what she does drives them crazy. Finally, one of Tara's fathers friends come over and figure out what she has.

"Kissing Doorknobs" has many meanings. It says that even if life has you down, friends can help you through. In the book Tara has no friends until one day she meets a girl that becomes her best friend. Whenever she is around her friend she stops the strange things she does. So, when Tara was having a tough time a friend helped her out.

The characters in the book were very well developed. They all had their own attitudes. The parents were fed up with Tara's strangeness and were always mad. Her sister and her friend were normally calm and not like her parents. Also, the author put a lot of emotion into the story.

"Kissing Doorknobs" was a wonderful book. It was written very well and had a great meaning. It is a great book for teens.
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