Release Day Review: OCDaniel by Wesley King

OCDanielOCDaniel by Wesley King
Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary Fiction
Publication Date: April 12th, 2016
Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
 

Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the author of Incredible Space Raiders from Space! comes a brand-new coming-of-age story about a boy whose life revolves around hiding his obsessive compulsive disorder—until he gets a mysterious note that changes everything.

Daniel is the back-up punter for the Erie Hills Elephants. Which really means he’s the water boy. He spends football practice perfectly arranging water cups—and hoping no one notices. Actually, he spends most of his time hoping no one notices his strange habits—he calls them Zaps: avoiding writing the number four, for example, or flipping a light switch on and off dozens of times over. He hopes no one notices that he’s crazy, especially his best friend Max, and Raya, the prettiest girl in school. His life gets weirder when another girl at school, who is unkindly nicknamed Psycho Sara, notices him for the first time. She doesn’t just notice him: she seems to peer through him.

Then Daniel gets a note: “I need your help,” it says, signed, Fellow Star child—whatever that means. And suddenly Daniel, a total no one at school, is swept up in a mystery that might change everything for him.

With great voice and grand adventure, this book is about feeling different and finding those who understand.

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Wendy’s Review

(I just realized that the cover shows a q-tip stick figure!  Both hilarious, and also kind of sad.)

OCDaniel is the story of a 13 year old boy who doesn’t realize that he has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, he believes he’s just going crazy.  He hides his ‘zaps’ or compulsions from his friends and his family, and he has horrible panic attacks.  As a mother, who’s daughter is 12, my heart hurt for Daniel.  I just kept wishing that he would tell someone, or someone would find out, something so he could start getting help.  He needed help.

On top of the story of Daniel’s OCD, you were also reading him awkwardly trying to live up to the rest of the football team.  In the beginning, Daniel is just a backup Kicker, or a glorified water-boy.  However, he winds up playing, and being pressured to perform.  He is also helping Psycho Sara to solve a mystery.  His little 13 year old life is quite busy.

What I liked: I really enjoyed the way Daniel talked about his disorder, that he called Zaps.  Everything he said struck me as being so sincere.  His own terms fit the symptom well, and even though it occasionally made me chuckle it was never without heartache.  (Not too surprising, as the author explains having written the story from personal experience.)  I also loved how Daniel coped by writing, and that the story he wrote was one that helped him make sense of what was going on with him.  I loved that in a sense Daniel learns to accept his eccentricities, and even in some ways embrace the unusual.  I liked Daniel’s friendship with Max, his best friend.  I loved that even though they were so different, Max never seemed to treat Daniel like he wasn’t ‘cool’.  In that way their friendship reminded me of Shawn and Corey from Boy Meets World.

What I found harder to swallow: As I said before, I kept waiting for everyone to find out but apparently it wasn’t that type of book.  That’s alright, I suppose.  It’s just, for me, I was waiting to see how Max was going to react to finding out Daniel’s truth.  Daniel’s parents weren’t horrible, but it killed me every time they came close to the truth only to willingly accept his cover-ups.  I understand that Daniel was coming to terms with it in his own heart, but at the same time he was just a little boy and he was fighting a battle that I just can’t believe he would win on his own.  (I also found all the ‘football’ stuff just a little outside reality.)

At the end, while it was my urge to rate OCDaniel with one less star, I decided to go with four.  I liked more than I disliked, and I also have to take into account that this is a book for the Middle Grade level.  Should the message be about talking to your parents?  As a parent myself, I think so.  However, sometimes the story is more about finding acceptance in your own skin which is also important.

Rating: 4 Stars = B

Thank you to Simon & Schuster for providing a copy of his book, in exchange for an honest review.

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