Title: OCD Love Story
Author: Corey Ann Haydu
Publication date: July 23, 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Source: an ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley
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 ton 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.
Lucky for me, I don't get panicky in small dark spaces or anything. I'm a different breed of crazy.
I knew coming into this that OCD Love Story and my feelings on it could go either way. I was intrigued of the different aspect that this YA book held since I haven't read any other OCD-centered book before. At the same time, I was hesitant at the thought that the main character is a teenage girl stalker. A teenage girl stalker is way different than a normal stalker in my mind. A teenage girl can have different narratives while stalking and can verge on being annoying, at least that is what I pictured them to be.
In a way, I was correct in Bea being annoying. In another, I wasn't. After a stalking incident with her ex-boyfriend and a traumatic experience with a former crush (boyfriend? croyfriend? boyfrush?), Bea was forced to go to therapy. Now, in addition with her one-on-one sessions, she has to go to group therapy. There, she sees that she is in the same group as the very hot guy she had to calm down earlier during a blackout.
This book was slightly disturbing in the way that wasn't bad or good. I think the outcome was what Haydu was wanting, but I still sat afterwards and wondered if I liked it or not. I did and I didn't. Yes, it's another floppy answer, but this book evokes many floppy answers from me. Many people, myself included, will probably joke that they or someone else has OCD. I think of OCD in a way that everything needs to be in order and you can get pretty darn touchy about it. But Haydu shows it in a different light. Bea stalks. To "help" her anxiety, she picks a person and obsessively takes notes on them, following them, "checking up" on them, and that anxiety won't go away until she has done her "duty." There is also another detail that casts her in a "Um, let me just keep my distance here" light. SEMI-SPOILER Her violent thoughts made me hesitant, I'll admit. I think everyone wonders about how those seemingly harmless people can commit horrible things and there's the fact on what happened with the traumatic incident she saw in her past, but Bea really took it to the extreme. SEMI-SPOILER DONE.
With all that, I think Bea and Beck were intentionally set as characters you would have mixed feelings for. I may be wrong and Haydu wanted us to sympathize with them, but I felt a vibe saying that we were supposed to be iffy about them both. They are messed up characters and make really stupid decisions. The decisions they make are ones that force you to howl with frustration and tell them point-blank that they are screwed up. I think that was the whole point though. They ARE screwed up. They have panic attacks, anxiety issues, and deal with them differently. It affects not only themselves, but the people around them.
Bea's best friend Lisha is a character that I had mixed feelings on and then the dislike finally took over at the end. I put myself in her place and saw how hard it must be to have Bea as a best friend. Bea is selfish. She sees her problems, denies that they are really problems, but allows her life to be ruled by them and to satisfy her anxiety cravings, she makes the people around her miserable. She shows a little improvement in one scene when Lisha's life starts to crack, but Bea still is placing herself center stage. However, no matter how Bea behaves, I couldn't condone Lisha's. Like any best friend, she probably didn't know how to act when Bea was being odd. But that did NOT give her an excuse to do some of the things she did.
The love story aspect of OCD Love Story wasn't exactly what I was expecting either. It had its moments, but this book was mainly about her problems and his problems. They had their sweet interactions and I'm not necessarily saying that the romance was bad. I just hope that no one places a firm expectation on it. They tried to help each other and Bea wanted to lessen his pain while appearing fine herself. She wanted to love him and did, but she couldn't behave like a normal sort-of girlfriend when she was stalking some other man. In amidst of the romance, Bea made me feel like I was cringing all throughout the book. I was embarrassed for her and sometimes that can be the worst emotion for a reader to feel. I already feel stressed about my own life as it is!
Unfortunately, if I did rate by stars, it would lose at least half of one based on the ending. Haydu seemed to attempt at a not-so-clean ending, but it still felt a little too neat. A little too unrealistic. A little too odd. However, odd can probably be ignored since that was the reoccurring theme.
This is a hard book to review because it was a hard book to read for me. It dealt with odd and somewhat disturbing things. It involved characters that I didn't necessarily like or enjoy. It dealt with issues that I hadn't been exposed to before. That might all seem negative, but overall, I applaud the author for writing this book. She wrote something that I personally think is unconventional in YA fiction. Her work was brave. Slightly uncomfortable and probably not a book I will read again, but brave.
Verdict: A book that I didn't necessarily enjoyed, but was glad to have read with romantic and relationship plusses mixed with cringe-worthy and weird negatives.
This is an ARC. Any quote used may be changed.