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Finding Perfect Hardcover – October 18, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—Swartz's debut novel gives readers a glimpse into the increasingly troubling thoughts and feelings of a girl with an anxiety disorder. Molly Nathans is striving for perfection in her 12-year-old life. She is an excellent slam poet and plans to prove it to her school by winning the regional competition. She's also hoping to prove it to her mother, who has left the family for a job in Toronto. As if her absent mother isn't enough of a worry, Molly becomes aware that her compulsion to count by fours and line up her figurines with a ruler is getting out of hand. With middle school friendships and family relationships at its heart, this novel offers an empathetic guide to coping with a mental health issue. As in Sophie Kinsella's YA book Finding Audrey, readers are privy to the inner life of a young person coping with a condition that has her believing she's "crazy." Swartz uses the counting obsession effectively to illustrate the escalation of Molly's problems. Molly's conversations with her friends contrast with her own interior dialogues to help readers understand her minute-by-minute struggle. Though the ending is predictable, there are enough emotional highs and lows throughout to keep readers hoping for Molly's perseverance and triumph. VERDICT Swartz adds to the growing list of fiction titles that raise awareness of differences and promote acceptance; a strong purchase for most middle grade and middle school collections.—Jane Miller, Nashville Public Library
"While there are several good books about OCD for teen readers, few are available for middle graders, and this is a welcome addition to the fold."―Kirkus
"First-time author Swartz creates a clear, moving portrayal of obsessive-compulsive disorder through the authentic voice of middle schooler Molly Nathans."―Publishers Weekly
"With middle school friendships and family relationships at its heart, this novel offers an empathetic guide to coping with a mental health issue...Swartz adds to the growing list of fiction titles that raise awareness of differences and promote acceptance; a strong purchase for most middle grade and middle school collections."―School Library Journal
"With intense and insightful depictions of Molly’s thoughts and subsequent actions, Swartz renders Molly’s decline into full-blown OCD visceral and sympathetic; readers with similar tendencies will relate while others, like her friends, will recognize the pain of seeing someone in need but not being able to help. This is a powerful but not overpowering novel, informing audiences about OCD with tact and acceptance through an accessible and relateable cast of characters, from Molly’s distracted but well-meaning father to her angry older sister to her supportive but helpless-feeling friends. It’s a difficult but manageable journey for readers to take, and many may find themselves using Swartz’s list of consulted resources for further information. This is one for preteens struggling with the desire for perfection in this imperfect life."―Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"This lightly and sensitively written debut is a candid portrayal of what it might be like for a child living with obsessive-compulsive disorder...the exploration of OCD is thorough and compelling, and the book is as well researched (including a list of consulted resources) as it is gently written."―Booklist
"Elly Swartz’s extensive research into Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is evidenced by the authenticity of Molly’s voice and perspective. Readers will share in Molly’s journey from pain to healing in this excellent debut novel."―School Library Connection
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FINDING PERFECT, by Elly Swartz, is the book I needed to read when I was young. I once was a Molly who thought everything needed to be perfect, but I could not control the worry that came along with it. I kept those feeling locked up inside just like Molly did. I felt I couldn’t let anyone see what was happening, just like Molly did. I knew I could fix it all on my own, just like Molly did. I wonder how many other kids out there feel the same way as Molly did. I hope FINDING PERFECT finds its way into their hands. Thank you, Elly Swartz, for writing such an important book.
There are more and more diagnoses, and more kids affected by mental health issues, than ever before. Books like this that open up and confront the subject in different ways are wonderfully needed. I greatly enjoyed meeting Molly, and think 'Finding Perfect' will find a very welcome spot on the library shelf.
Molly's struggles will have you turning the pages with a heavy heart, rooting her on and wanting to leap through the pages and hug her and take away her pain.
The themes of friendship, honesty, family trauma, mental illness, loyalty, art as therapy....make this a profound middle grades read.