Can a girl fall off a cliff in s-l-o-w motion? That’s how Allison’s life seems to plummet during her sophomore year of high school in this fine debut memoir.
After awakening from a terrible dream, Allison is abruptly afflicted with obsessive-compulsive disorder—although she doesn’t truly understand the reason that she’s suddenly associating commonplace objects and activities with brain cancer. First she has to avoid cracks in floors, but this rapidly devolves into restrictions on every aspect of her life—controlling her behavior, relationships, eating, sleeping, and personal hygiene, and completely derailing her ability to do well in school. Within weeks, she goes from being an excellent student positioned socially on the fringe of the popular group to a pariah who may fail her classes. That her obvious distress flies under the radar of her parents and teachers for so long is especially distressing. After her parents finally do intervene, she begins seeing a specialist whose treatment, combined with Allison’s brave determination, makes all the difference. Depicted with affecting honesty (and including quite a lot of dialogue), Allison’s journey is at once gripping and agonizing. Allison is white; her trials are a universal experience.
Readers willing to share Allison’s evident pain and humiliation may gain insight into a troubling disorder, but it’s the joy of her slow recovery that they’ll savor. (Memoir. 12-18)