COMPULSION by Heidi Ayarbe


Age Range: 14 & up
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A compelling entrée into the claustrophobic world of an OCD teen. On the field, in the hallway and to his one good friend, Luc, Jake is Magic Martin, quirky but respected star soccer player. Only his sister, Kasey, now a high-school freshman, knows the truth about his family: Money is tight, their mother is mentally ill and their father is running on a constant low boil. And no one but Jake knows that he is constantly at war with the “spiders” in his brain, battling their encroaching, strangling webs by obsessively monitoring and manipulating numbers. The author immerses readers in Jake's anxious reality. Each short chapter begins with the time, the digits of which add, subtract, multiply or divide into a prime number (“OK”) or don't (“Fuck”). Tiny, mundane actions—tapping the beak of a lawn flamingo, touching a grandfather clock—become fraught with tension. The author deftly illustrates the impact of Jake's obsessions without relying on exposition; readers see through Jake's eyes the paramount importance of maintaining the “magic” and through their own eyes the hours upon hours lost to counting and tapping. The climax is both inevitable and gripping, and, although Jake longs for the day the spiders retreat for good, the conclusion that he must instead learn to cope with their presence comes as a relief to both readers and protagonist. Taut, suspenseful and well-realized. (Fiction. 14 & up)
Pub Date: May 3rd, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-06-199386-2
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2011


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