Bea meets Beck, and the two hit it off. He’s exactly her brand of crazy: sweet and messed up, just like her. They both have OCD, and they’re both struggling to come to terms with it while also being teenagers. While Beck’s OCD manifests itself in numbers and over-exercising, Bea’s manifests itself in observing others and taking copious notes. The two struggle to get their compulsions under control while also struggling with their feelings for one another, but which will break first?
Corey Ann Haydu’s debut novel is not an easy read, but it’s so well-written and full of compelling characters that most readers will find it impossible to put down. From her believably real protagonist to the heartbreaking and hard portrayal of obsessive-compulsive disorder, this is a memorable read with a romance that won’t soon be forgotten. This is not to be missed.
Bea is an absolutely believable protagonist, and her voice is authentic throughout the story. She’s a bit of an unreliable narrator, though, as readers start to discover that there might actually be a legitimate reason for her to be in therapy as her story unfolds. Her compulsions are different from many other OCD sufferers, but as her obsession with another couple that attend therapy in the same office as her intensifies, readers start to realize there’s real danger in Bea’s thoughts. It becomes harder to be sympathetic to Bea’s insistence that she’s fine as these behaviors escalate.
It’s interesting to note that Beck’s obsessions are much more external than Bea’s, and so it’s easier for her to think of him as being worse off. His propensity to clean himself obsessively and over-exercise means that his body is showing signs of wear and tear in a way that Bea’s is not. Both are damaged and struggling, but they also understand each other and have a real chemistry that leaps off the page. Both are remarkably well-drawn characters.
There are elements present here that wouldn’t work in the hands of a weaker writer. Luckily, Haydu’s writing is so beautiful and well-crafted that any plot contrivances actually work. She doesn’t offer her characters any magic fixes or pat answers, but she does leave the story on a hopeful note, which readers should find satisfying. The book is sweet and troubled, just like its protagonists.
Highly, highly recommended.
OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu. Simon Pulse: 2013. Library copy read for the 2013 Cybils.