Drumming is the only thing that relieves 16-year-old Joshua from his counting rituals.
Joshua’s secret is that he feels trapped by his mind. The pattern and percussion of drumming help pause the relentless notion that if he doesn’t do what his thoughts compel him to do, the people he cares about will come to harm. Joshua, who is white, is entering a new high school as a 10th-grader, and no one knows that he’s late for classes because he has to do his locker combination while simultaneously counting to 100 or that he can’t concentrate on schoolwork because he must count every crack in the ceiling. Then he meets Mage, a stellar student with “deep brown skin,” hair in braids, and a penchant for the word “magic.” Together with Joshua’s sister, Julia, they form a band for the upcoming talent show. Things brighten even further after his therapist explains that Joshua’s condition is called obsessive-compulsive disorder and then prescribes medication and talk therapy. Even still, his father is skeptical, “Now that you know, / can’t you just…stop?” It’s this miscomprehension that leads Joshua’s father to take some potentially damaging action. This is a captivating story that will capture teens’ imaginations.
Written in verse, this slim, rhythmic novel for reluctant readers vividly evokes a teen boy’s struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder. (Verse novel. 12-17)