by Wesley King
Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, 2016
Review by Christian Perring on Apr 12th 2016
Daniel is thirteen years old, and he has many rituals he has to go through before he can go to bed. Often it takes him hours before he can get to sleep, and so he is often sleep-deprived. During the day he occasionally gets what he calls "Zaps" which make him want to carry out particular actions. Sometimes he ends up crying because he gets so frustrated by his compulsions. He is smart and very verbal, but he can't tell anyone about is problems. He lives with his parents and older brother, and he feels like his Dad is just interested in him being on the football team. He does play for the team, but he is not great at kicking the ball. The team needs him anyway, and sometimes things go his way, and he makes his Dad proud. Daniel has a best friend Max, who he has known most of his life. Max became one of the cool kids while Daniel was a nerd, but they remained friends, and so Daniel gets to interact with some of the more popular crowd. While they might view his as a bit strange, his occasional success on the football field sometimes even gets him his own popularity. But the biggest change that Daniel experiences is a new friendship with a girl who seems as odd as Daniel. She reveals to him that she has a theory about her father's absence and why he has disappeared. Together they set out to solve the mystery, and they come to have some real understanding for each other.
OCDaniel provides a vivid description for what it is to live with obsessive-compulsive disorder, and the shame that can come with it. King's novel for young adults gives a nice depiction of ordinary family life with its pressures and pleasures, and the misunderstandings and fears that can perpetuate problems. In an afterword, he explains that he had OCD as a boy himself, and there is a strong autobiographical element to the story. The writing is strong and the book is easy to read, so this will be a valuable resource for pre-teens and younger teens wanting to learn more about OCD.
© 2016 Christian Perring
Christian Perring, Professor of Philosophy, Dowling College, New York