If your parents are separating, your mother leaves home for a job elsewhere, and your best friend is about to move away, how can you gain control of your life?
“Soap. Water. Scrub. Rinse. Good. No. Again.” Twelve-year-old Molly Nathans’ management strategies develop gradually—from aligning items to cleaning and organizing, hand-washing and counting—all intended to bring order to a series of life events that feel chaotic. The white girl’s convinced that she can bring her mother home by winning the school poetry slam and perfecting her routines. Molly’s close friends have their own, much milder fixations and ultimately support her OCD in a humane way. Her caring but preoccupied father eventually responds to her cries for help while identifying the role that genetics play in Molly’s experiences of self-loss and irrational fears. Debut author Swartz folds in helpful resources and delivers plot and characters that are occasionally overearnest and heavy-handed, with some of the predictability of a problem novel. Yet this first-person narrative of an increasingly common behavioral-health issue will undoubtedly be a useful tool for both classroom and group discussion.
While there are several good books about OCD for teen readers, few are available for middle graders, and this is a welcome addition to the fold. (Fiction. 8-12)