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Oxford Messed Up Paperback – November 17, 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 97 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

A beautifully written and compelling love story about two messed up people who help each other face and overcome their demons.... The story gives a window into the mind of a woman, Gloria, who is suffering severe obsessive-compulsive disorder. We see her internal thoughts her critical, perfectionistic, sometimes grandiose, and always germ-phobic thoughts as well as the compulsive behaviors they lead to. We come intimately to know what it must feel like to have these struggles.... Oxford Messed Up shows nothing less than the redemptive power of love. --Elyn Saks, J.D., Ph.D., 2009 winner of the MacArthur Genius Grant and author of The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness

In her first novel, Andrea Kayne Kaufman asks whether each of us, messed up in our own way, can choose to embrace happiness.... Van Morrison's lyrics provide a backdrop for this narrative, which is more than a love story it is a study of fatalistic optimism. I couldn't put this book down because Kaufman makes you care deeply about the individual journeys of her two protagonists. --Kathleen McCartney, Ph.D., Dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education

Finally, a story that shows how powerful Cognitive Behavior Therapy really is, and a protagonist who is so much more than her OCD. You will root for Kaufman's characters because of their beautifully realized humanity, while you gain understanding of the constant undercurrent of noise in the mind of anyone who has OCD. This book accurately and finally portrays the recovery that is possible when OCD is treated correctly. Thank you, Andrea Kayne Kaufman, on behalf of all of us who struggle with anxiety, and on behalf of all of us searching for healing, growth and a beautiful love story! --Susan Richman, Honorary Chair, Board of Directors, OCD Chicago --Susan Richman, Honorary Chair, Board of Directors, OCD Chicago

In her first novel, Andrea Kayne Kaufman asks whether each of us, messed up in our own way, can choose to embrace happiness.... Van Morrison's lyrics provide a backdrop for this narrative, which is more than a love story it is a study of fatalistic optimism. I couldn't put this book down because Kaufman makes you care deeply about the individual journeys of her two protagonists. --Kathleen McCartney, Ph.D., Dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education

Finally, a story that shows how powerful Cognitive Behavior Therapy really is, and a protagonist who is so much more than her OCD. You will root for Kaufman's characters because of their beautifully realized humanity, while you gain understanding of the constant undercurrent of noise in the mind of anyone who has OCD. This book accurately and finally portrays the recovery that is possible when OCD is treated correctly. Thank you, Andrea Kayne Kaufman, on behalf of all of us who struggle with anxiety, and on behalf of all of us searching for healing, growth and a beautiful love story! --Susan Richman, Honorary Chair, Board of Directors, OCD Chicago

In her first novel, Andrea Kayne Kaufman asks whether each of us, messed up in our own way, can choose to embrace happiness.... Van Morrison's lyrics provide a backdrop for this narrative, which is more than a love story it is a study of fatalistic optimism. I couldn't put this book down because Kaufman makes you care deeply about the individual journeys of her two protagonists. --Kathleen McCartney, Ph.D., Dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education

Finally, a story that shows how powerful Cognitive Behavior Therapy really is, and a protagonist who is so much more than her OCD. You will root for Kaufman's characters because of their beautifully realized humanity, while you gain understanding of the constant undercurrent of noise in the mind of anyone who has OCD. This book accurately and finally portrays the recovery that is possible when OCD is treated correctly. Thank you, Andrea Kayne Kaufman, on behalf of all of us who struggle with anxiety, and on behalf of all of us searching for healing, growth and a beautiful love story! --Susan Richman, Honorary Chair, Board of Directors, OCD Chicago

About the Author

Andrea Kayne Kaufman is chair of the Department of Leadership, Language and Curriculum at the DePaul University College of Education in Chicago. An educator and attorney, she earned a B.A. from Vassar College, an M.A. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. She lives in Chicago with her husband and two children.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Grant Place Press (November 17, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0984675108
  • ISBN-13: 978-0984675104
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (97 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,325,735 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was a book club suggestion, and turned out to be a runaway hit for our group! I'm not usually a romance reader, but was intrigued and quickly hooked by the story. The writing made me feel a part of Oxford graduate student life (no small feat), and I became engrossed in these characters' lives. The romance was sweet yet realistic, and I appreciated the subtle education on OCD issues and treatments as part of the story. This was a hip romance, and I'm already looking forward to the author's next book.
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Format: Paperback
Rhodes Scholar Gloria Zimmerman is extremely intelligent but held back by her Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder which is ruled by "Oliver" who delights in telling her how germy everything is. She is horrified to discover that she will be sharing a bathroom with Henry Young, an ex-junkie who is a terrible slob. Gloria and Henry do have one thing in common - their love of Van Morrison's music. This one thing in common creates an unexpected friendship between them which slowly evolves into a deeper relationship. But they have many obstacles to overcome including not only Gloria's OCD but Henry's past which will forever haunt him.

The first couple of chapters were a bit slow but once the story got going "Oxford Messed Up" pulled me into the book to the point that I still can't forget the main characters long after I've finished reading the book. Author Andrea Kayne Kaufman has done a wonderful job of creating two complex characters who somehow manage to find love despite their problems. Kaufman's portrayal of Gloria is especially sensitive. She (using the help of "Oliver") really gets into Gloria's mind and what it is like to have OCD. Readers will agonize with Gloria as she at times tries to rid herself of "Oliver" yet is too weak to do so. It is heartbreaking to read as Gloria cleans the bathroom for hours at a time; heartwarming to read the times when she manages to beat "Oliver". This is mainly Gloria's story but Henry is just as well-written and just as troubled a character. Gloria helps him just as much as he helps her. Their romance develops slowly (nicely done by Kaufman) and you are never quite certain until the end if they will stay together (Kaufman has created such believable characters that readers may want a tissue nearby as they get towards the end of the book).
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I loved every single thing about this book. It takes dysfunctional to a whole new level. There are dysfunctional individuals, dysfunctional relationships, dysfunctional families. The two main characters are Gloria, a Rhodes scholar who has come to Oxford to study women's poetry and Henry, a music loving son of one of the Oxford dons.

The two are thrown together when their flat at Oxford shares a bathroom. This would not be such a bad thing, except that Gloria has an obsessive/compulsive disorder. She can not abide by germs. Her hatred of germs is fueled by "Oliver" a voice in her head. And Oliver has a lot to say about Henry and his slovenly ways. Gloria combats this by cleaning the bathroom every morning for hours and applying copious amounts of hand sanitizer. Henry realizes that Gloria is probably actually more messed up than he is, and after finding that he has feelings for her, sets about to help make her better.

What they do have in common is Van Morrision. His words and wisdom are so interwoven through this story, that I had to stop in the middle and purchase and download his greatest hits album.

This is a love story. It is a story of rising above our own personal demons. It is a fascinating look at OCD. It would make a wonderful movie.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you want a book with engaging characters that you care about to the last page, look no further than Oxford Messed Up. I had the great fortune to begin this novel on a long car trip, which allowed me to plow through in one sitting - I couldn't put it down!

Gloria Zimmerman, Rhodes Scholar and student of feminist poetry, struggles with untreated OCD as she settles into her new life at Oxford. OCD experts have vetted the book, and it shows; this is not the typical Hollywood portrayal. I really felt for Gloria's struggles and the immense amount of courage it took for her to begin to break away from the condition.

Gloria's counterpart, Henry Young, has his own problems. Kaufman paints a very real portrait of a grown child struggling with the toxic nature of his father, and Henry's resulting doubt of his self-worth. As Henry tries to heal Gloria (and perhaps himself), a wonderful romance emerges. Both Gloria and Henry are messed up in their own way, but it's fascinating to see how they weave their way into each others lives.

Kaufman adds engaging secondary characters, my favorite of which was Margo Mitchell. A professor and poet, she is hesitant to publish a new collection of joyful poetry for fear her fan base is too tied to her past mournful persona.

And how can I finish a review for Oxford Messed Up without mentioning the music of Van Morrison? Kaufman weaves the poetic power of his songs through the plot until they seem like another character. Don't worry if you're not familiar with Van Morrison's music - I wasn't, but the description of each song and it's meaning to the narrative allowed me to greatly enjoy the book. In fact, the description was so interesting that I've since begun to dip my toe into the vast recordings of Van Morrison.

In all: great characters you'll want to stay with to the end, emotionally real portrayals of OCD and family problems, and some kick-ass Van Morrison to tie it all together.
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