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OCDaniel Paperback – April 11, 2017
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Daniel, a budding writer and resident pariah, is tortured by a neurosis that racks his body and mind with pain if he doesn't fulfill obsessive rituals before bed, eating, or anything else in life. He lives in fear of these compulsions, until his path is crossed by someone whose cornucopia of irregularities rival his own. Sara is situationally mute and understands his problems because hers are more than she can bear. Believing her father was killed by her stepfather, Sara embarks with Daniel on a desperate search to reveal her father's fate. King uses crisp, believable dialogue to illustrate positive character dynamics, while sidestepping stereotypes and the typical YA tropes in this coming-of-age tale. Readers will find the characters sympathetic but may become disillusioned by the lack of a driving point in the book. At times, the work is a character-driven book of neuroses, and at others it's a quirky coming-of-age comedy. Then, it switches gears and becomes a plot-driven novel of suspense. King endeavors to explore too many avenues of possibility: the progression of Daniel's placekicking career; his unlikely pursuit of Raya, the popular girl from school; the inclusion of the character's own writing; and, finally, the arc unveiling the fate of Sara's father. King is a skillful writer, but the multiple strands give the novel an unfocused feel. VERDICT This book will appeal to readers who enjoy weird boy-meets-misunderstood girl stories, particularly fans of A.S. King's Please Ignore Vera Dietz and John Green's Paper Towns.-Brian Hoff, Elmwood Park High School, ILα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
King (The Incredible Space Raiders from Space!) offers a candid and memorable account of life with OCD, inspired by his own experience with the anxiety disorder. Thirteen-year-old Daniel Leigh, a wryly funny narrator, has a popular best friend, a crush on a classmate, and a spot on the football team as backup kicker. But he also has a secret that is making him miserable: he is plagued by “Zaps,” his name for the triggers—such as an unlucky number or the wrong number of steps—that create a flood of horrible feelings that can only be quelled by certain actions such as flicking a light switch repeatedly. Writing is an outlet for Daniel, and excerpts from the novel he’s working on are interspersed throughout. When Sara, a selectively mute school outcast, suddenly begins to speak to him, she draws him into a potential murder mystery and becomes the first person to see and understand his struggle. Daniel’s pain and confusion at what he comes to realize is OCD is memorably portrayed in this moving story of self-acceptance (Publishers Weekly)
In a departure fromhis previous book, The Incredible Space Raiders from Space (2015), King offersthe story of an "eccentric thirteen-year-old social oddity" whodesperately wants to be normal. Exhausted by the excruciating nightly Routinethat keeps him from sleep for hours and his daily efforts to conceal hisobsession with numbers, Daniel Leigh believes he is crazy. Otherwise, Daniel isa typical eighth-grade white boy. He's desperate to fit in, to make his fatherproud, and to win the affections of the most beautiful and popular girl inschool, in this case Raya Singh. When Daniel (backup kicker and water boy) isplucked from the sidelines of the football field, he's given a shot at makingthose dreams come true. Then something strange happens. Sara Melvern, whohasn't spoken once in the eight years he's known her, invites him to help hersolve the mystery of her father's disappearance, and Daniel realizes thatsometimes dreams aren't all they're cracked up to be. Daniel's narration ischarming, funny, and occasionally heartbreaking, and a secondary cast ofwell-developed characters keeps the plot moving. . . . Part coming-of-age, part mystery, and part middle-grade social-problem novel,Daniel's story will resonate with a broad spectrum of readers. (Fiction. 8-13) (Kirkus Reviews 2/15/16)
As the backup kicker on his football team, 13-year-old Daniel spends his time watching from the bench. Socially, he is an onlooker as well. But soon Sara, an ostracized girl at school, breaks through his shyness by demanding help with investigating her father’s possible murder. It seems heartless to refuse, though logically (and later, legally) he should. As tension mounts, his anxiety level rises, and “The Routine” he is compelled to follow at bedtime grows longer and more burdensome. Daniel knows that he is different, but he suffers alone and in silence. It’s a revelation when Sara offers him information on obsessive compulsive disorder and a path toward coping with it. A brief, appended author’s note dispels common misconceptions about OCD and calls Daniel “an almost autobiographical representation of myself at that age.” King creates convincing characters and writes engaging dialogue, and whether or not readers identify fully with Daniel, they will see parts of themselves in this vulnerable protagonist. Clues dropped in the first part of the book may lead readers to expect a conventional sort of happy ending, but the story’s conclusion is more complex and satisfying. Written from Daniel’s point of view, this perceptive firstperson narrative is sometimes painful, sometimes amusing, and always rewarding. (Booklist, STARRED REVIEW March 1, 2016) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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The setup is that Daniel has a fairly serious OCD complex that he doesn't fully understand and that he tries to keep from his family and friends. (You have to overlook the fact that a kid could get to eighth grade without being recognized or diagnosed as OCD.) Daniel is smart, funny, and very self-aware. He narrates the story and his voice is fresh, honest and appealing. This is a good-hearted and authentic sort of hero, and just right as the narrator of the tale.
Daniel is surrounded by a fair mix of supporting characters, all of whom are allowed to develop a bit. There are no clichéd bullies or mean girls or unfair teachers/coaches, or any of those other middle grade staples. Daniel's best friend is a popular jock, but he is smart, patient and loyal to Daniel. Daniel's older brother belittles Daniel a bit, except when he helps him. Daniel's younger sister isn't a smart-mouth or a Yoda. She's a smart kid who likes Daniel. Daniel's Mom is a ditherer, but she also has Mom smarts. Dad is a bit distant and has trouble communicating with Daniel, but he tries his best and has his moments. See? Nobody here is a bad guy.
Two girls figure into the tale. One, Sara, has a whole boatload of mental illnesses, and she plays the role of "Star Child". But, she's not a drama queen or some idealized manic pixie dream girl. She's just another sympathetic kid. The other girl is the object of Daniel's affections, and she is kind and understanding, while still feeling like a real person. Daniel's interactions with these two girls feel authentic, within the bounds of middle grade fiction, and are both charming and rather sweet.
The plot is two-fold. Daniel, the football team's never-used backup kicker, has to be the primary kicker for a series of big upcoming games. Cue the drama and pressure. On a more out-there note, Sara is convinced that her Mom's boyfriend murdered her real Dad, and she dragoons Daniel into helping her find proof. This is over-the-top stuff, but it mostly just serves to keep everything moving and to shake Daniel up, so it's not bad as plot macguffins go.
The larger point of the book, of course, is to watch all of these characters deal with life and make a little progress. That happens with wit and generosity, and decency. This is well-crafted and upbeat without ever being sappy or manipulative. (Well, it is manipulative, but that's sort of what authors do.) The upshot for me was that I appreciated that the book did something interesting and sort of delicate in an engaging way without ever going off the rails. A nice, thoughtful and entertaining, find.
(Please note that I received a free advance ecopy of this book without a review requirement, or any influence regarding review content should I choose to post a review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.)
Daniel is 13 years old and has OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), but he doesn’t know what it is. Written in the first person, he tells how his rituals affect his life and when the first symptoms began. While OCD is the main subject, Daniel also describes feeling like an inferior sibling and being bullied for other reasons, making it a good look inside the overall hell we know as middle school. There is a bonus mystery to be solved to add even more reason to keep turning the pages.
I’m going to get personal for a moment. I have OCD, but it is the result of a bad accident that left me with a traumatic brain injury. This book had me absolutely sobbing during many of the chapters. The descriptions of the torment were almost too realistic. OCD is bad enough as an adult, but to go through it as a kid must be horrible. I hope those who have it, whether or not they know what it is, are able to find this book. It has the potential to help many people.
“OCDaniel” is a book I recommend to anyone, even younger children who are able to read at a middle grade level. It’s a fast read, making it a good choice for reluctant readers. There are many opportunities for discussion for parents or teachers who wish to read it with their children or class.
This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
It was as if thirteen-year old Daniel was hiding from himself as I read this novel. He was hiding a major part of himself as he tried to hide his OCD from everyone around him and he thought he had kept it a secret. He wanted Raya to like him as she was everything he wanted to be and he hoped that someday she would come around. Sara, I liked her as she was true to herself. She had more in common with Daniel but Daniel didn’t want to accept it so he tried to push Sara out of his mind. Daniel was setting himself for failure as he didn’t see the prize that was in front of his face and I for once, wasn’t upset. I wanted more for Sara than Daniel had to give at this point in the novel. Daniel didn’t deserve her. I hoped Daniel would come around before Sara gave up hope. I liked the fact that Daniel was a person who was a part of his world, he was not an individual who hid or shied away from others because of his disorder. He was not angry or agitated at others because of his Zaps; Daniel was living with his disorder and doing the best that he could. Daniel conversed among his peers and he was on the football team at school, he was unusual but Daniel was trying to fit in. Having OCD, Daniel tried to hide his disorder but this was next to impossible for he was living around individuals who saw him daily.
I was surprised at how Daniel felt when Sara approached him. Having the nickname Psycho Sara, I thought Daniel would have had more compassion towards Sara as they both are dealing with difficulties in their lives. Not that I expected him to fall instantly in love with her or to drop his infatuation with Sara but it was as if she had to beg him for assistance. Sara made the book for me. Her compassion and the narration of her story showed a strong character and it reflected off Daniel.
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But no matter how old you are, this book is for everybody who are suffering with mental illness.