Reviews for OCDaniel, by Wesley King
- Plot- or character-driven? Character
- Strong character development? Yes
- Loveable characters? Yes
- Diverse cast of characters? Yes
- Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes
Graphic: Mental illness
Moderate: Ableism and Bullying
Minor: Suicide, Death of parent, and Grief
Daniel is a 13 year old boy with OCD, but he doesn't know this is what it is. He's successful in many aspects of his school life but struggles with math because the numbers get in the way of thinking logically. He's highly capable as the backup kicker for his school's football team, but his anxiety interferes with consistency.
I liked the secondary characters a lot. His best friend, Max, might be a jock, but he's also a strong, good hearted individual. The two girls in his life, Raya and Sarah, are strong, positive teens. It wasn't easy to connect to Sarah's belief that her mother and boyfriend murdered her father, but not completely unrealistic either.
Daniel's struggles, especially the sections when he is dealing with his evening routine are brutally intense. I had a hard time listening to it in spite of acknowledging that it must be even worse to experience. In the afterward, King explains that much of this is autobiographical. It shows in the authenticity in the book.
Boy: I will rate it 5 stars because it shows how OCD is basically his mind is controlling him like when he steps on the carpet he needs to try again or he's going to die and that also goes with The Routine at night. He also has finally found someone to be with him and helps him to get through it his mental illness.
Girl: I give it a 5 out of 5 review because it really shows how he was feeling and how went through it. And I like that it didn't get too graphic. But I like how they ended Daniel's book and how he ends up going to group therapy with Sara. And how he is getting help at such a young age he is doing it with his friend because that makes him comfortable. And that they make each other feel special because they are special.
Simply put, I don't tend to read a lot of middle-grade fiction. As the name suggests, these books are targeted for a middle-grade audience and in spite of my childish complexion, I myself am not a 9-12 year old. The simplistic word choice, the naive and whiney characters that make your skin crawl are some of the off-putting factors of why middle-grade is something that I tend to avoid.
However, sometimes a book catches my eye in the library, or it's gifted to me and it's a gift given from Heaven, and I just can't help but be angered that I couldn't have read those beautiful middle-grade books during that time in my life when I desperately needed it. I found OCDaniel this summer at the school I worked at, and having heard a few things about in the past, I decided to peek the first few chapters during my lunch break and I was instantly hooked. This book perfectly balances humour and lightheartedness required for the target audience while also answering important and harsh topics in such a delicate and eye-opening way.
The book tells the story of a boy named Daniel who unbeknownst to him is suffering from an obsessive-compulsive disorder, his struggles of trying to get the girl and the popularity, his peer-pressured football career and helping the "crazy girl" at school try to prove her stepfather guilty of having murdered her father.
This book beautifully captures mental illness in such a simplistic way so that a younger audience can understand it. Using the metaphors that were used such as "zaps", "the great escape" were so helpful to lightening a load of OCD for a younger audience. "Compulsions", "Obsessions", and "Derealization" are often words we hear associated with OCD and other mental illnesses but we often don't actually understand what they mean. This book simplifies in a way that helps the reader understand what's going on. Mental illness is something that deeply trapped my middle-school years, especially the seventh and eighth grade. I felt misunderstood due to the stigma that existed to mental illness at the time and I think had I read OCDaniel at that time it would've been such an important book for me then, even more than it is now.
The main message of this story is that mental illness does not make you weak, nor crazy. Both Sara and Daniel are complex beautiful vulnerable characters who just really deserve a hug!! This book encourages the need to stop stigmatizing mental illness and that though it is serious and requires professional help it does not make you crazy or any less entitled to acceptance and love, and just the importance of finding the right people who accept you for who you are. The own-voices representation is obvious due to the authenticity of the writing voice.
Overall, I think OCDaniel is such an important heart-wrenching book and it is so so special and dear to my heart!<3