OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu
(Description nicked from B&N.com.)
“When Bea meets Beck, she knows instantly that he’s her kind of crazy. Sweet, strong, kinda-messed-up Beck understands her like no one else can. He makes her feel almost normal. He makes her feel like she could fall in love again.
But despite her feelings for Beck, Bea can’t stop thinking about someone else: a guy who is gorgeous and magnetic…and has no idea Bea even exists. But Bea knows a lot about him. She spends a lot of time watching him. She has a journal full of notes. Some might even say she’s obsessed.
Bea tells herself she’s got it all under control. But this isn’t a choice, it’s a compulsion. The truth is, she’s breaking down…and she might end up breaking her own heart.”
This book really struck a chord with me. You see, while I’ve never suffered from OCD, I have had panic attacks. I had my first major one in a car on the freeway, and driving has been difficult for me ever since. I mention this because Bea is similar to me in these ways, and it was odd (but in a good way) to see something like that in a story.
Because of this, I can tell you that at least as far as the panic goes, Haydu is dead correct in describing how it feels to experience one. I also trust that the episodes of OCD are also accurate, and if so, they make for harrowing reading. The author doesn’t sugarcoat what’s happening or what effects it has on Bea and Beck and those around them; however, she also doesn’t overdramatize them in such a way that they turn into little more than a plot vehicle. I thought the scenes where the OCD takes center stage and you really get to see how destructive it can be were well done and frighteningly realistic.
What this means, though, is that you have two main characters who aren’t exactly likeable. This is always a tricky choice for an author to make, but I think Haydu does a good job at making you want to like them, even if you can’t actually like them. They are real people with real issues, and the author doesn’t let the issues eclipse the person more than is necessary at any given moment.
There were a couple of things that I wondered about plot-wise. For one, I would have liked to see more of Bea’s parents. Readers come to find out that Bea has had some pretty serious things happen in her past that relate to her OCD, and I think that seeing her family’s point of view and involvement (or lack thereof) in her life might have given a valuable perspective on what OCD does to the people around the one suffering from it. As it is, the only real look we get at the “collateral damage” is through Bea’s friend Lisha. And Lisha has issues of her own—there are hints that she’s bulimic and co-dependent, but they’re never explored—and so the impact of Bea’s issues on her is a little bit blunted.
Overall, I liked this book. The love story is neither forced nor easy to deal with for either character. The novel doesn’t have a traditional happy, everything-is-okay-now ending. There’s a lot of raw, uncompromisingly nasty stuff that goes on, and the distaste that readers will likely feel is a good indication of boundaries being pushed in a way that makes you think about what you’re reading.
OCD Love Story isn’t a perfect book, but it is compelling. While not a book that can be called “enjoyable”, I did appreciate the story, and I commend the author for tackling such a difficult and potentially off-putting subject with such candor and compassion.