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OCDaniel: 12/09/16

OCDaniel by Wesley King

OCDaniel by Wesley King is a roman à clef that would have been better as a straight up memoir. Daniel suffers from "zaps" which get in his way — interrupting his sleep schedule, his studying, his chances on the football team, and his dating prospects. What he doesn't realize is that these "zaps" and the rituals that come out of them are part of living with obsessive compulsive disorder.

If you take the book at face value it's a run of the mill story of an unpopular boy who is upset that he can't get the things he wants: the girl, a proper place on the team, and a chance at being popular. Since these types of books are a dime a dozen (even though there's always someone wining about how books are all about female protagonists now), Daniel needs something to set him apart. Here the problem is OCD.

How this book fails to get across how scary it must be to a teen with undiagnosed OCD is that we're never really in Daniel's teenage head. Rather, the zaps and other symptoms are explained from the present tense — told presumably from an older Daniel. Rather than getting a compelling first person account of OCD from Daniel, we're given a monolog reminiscent of the schlocky voice overs from The Wonder Years.

At the close of the book there's an afterword about the author's own experience with OCD. It's by far the best part of the book. It's written in a genuine voice — the voice that Daniel should have had throughout the book.

Two stars

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