Haydu’s debut novel for teens is not for the emotionally faint of heart, but those who can withstand it won’t ever regret accompanying Bea, a high school senior recently diagnosed with OCD, on a profoundly uncomfortable and frenetic journey dominated by her increasingly manic compulsions.
When Bea kisses a strange boy during a blackout at a school dance, it’s clear she’s a little eccentric, but it isn’t until her therapist slips several pamphlets about OCD into Bea’s hands that readers will recognize her more extreme tendencies for what they truly are. Haydu is a masterful wordsmith, and readers will likely find themselves ready to crawl out of their skin as Bea’s need to perform certain rituals, even at the risk of alienating those she loves, becomes all-consuming. The one bright spot in Bea’s life is a budding romance with Beck, the boy from the school dance, who resurfaces in Bea’s group-therapy sessions. He’s plagued by issues of his own, and Bea finds comfort in a new relationship with someone who also has “one foot outside the border and into crazytown.” They are about as dysfunctional a pair as two people could be, but they’re also heartbreakingly sweet and well-suited for one another.
A raw and well-crafted alternative to run-of-the-mill teen romances that also addresses tough mental health issues head-on. (Fiction. 14 & up)