A teen girl fights a debilitating anxiety disorder that threatens to destroy her dreams of becoming an actor.
Junior Cadence “Caddie” Finn is a new student at Birmingham Arts Academy, where she reconnects with her childhood friend, Mandy Bower. Caddie can’t let Mandy or any of her friends know about her phobia: Touching or being touched will cause bad things to happen. Caddie’s parents have separated, and she has convinced herself that they won’t divorce if she can just avoid human touch. At school, she finds herself falling for Peter, and the two are cast as Hamlet and Ophelia. At home, her younger brother Jordan channels his grief over their father’s departure into anger, while their mom tries to move on with her life. Caddie remains determined to hide her condition from everyone and throws herself into preparing to play Shakespeare’s suicidal heroine. Even as she realizes how irrational her fears are, she continues to allow them to control her. Caddie narrates in the present tense, immersing readers in her claustrophobic anxieties. Her story effectively highlights how anxiety disorders and the stigma of mental illness affect teens, and the author offers advice and resources for help in her author’s note.
An insightful look at anxiety disorders and letting go of fear. (Fiction. 14-18)