Someone I love was recently diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, aka OCD. This is a specific kind of anxiety disorder, less about being neat and tidy, and more about not-so-fun things like sometimes disturbing thoughts randomly popping into your head and being convinced something bad is going to happen if you don’t do x. Whatever x happens to be, and it’s specific to the person.

John Green has OCD. (This is a lovely podcast where he talks about it.) Turtles All the Way Down is about a teenaged girl with OCD. So I read this book not from an enjoyment standpoint, but from a help-me-learn-what-it-feels-like-to-have-this standpoint.

For me it did a good job, especially showing Aza’s deterioration because of her refusal to regularly take her medication. (Seriously: TAKE YOUR MEDS, KID. Love, a mom) It’s all handled with a deft and loving touch and explains so, so much.

Turtles All the Way Down helped me, the story was enjoyable, and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about what living with OCD is actually like.

Quests are my favorite

Paper Towns

Paper Towns is about a girl and a boy who live next door. They aren’t particularly friends, but they used to be. This is, in some ways, about how they become friends again. It’s also about how she takes him on a prank-filled night and then disappears. He decides to find her.

It’s a fun YA story, and it references Whitman a lot. If I were a real book reviewer, I’d’ve gone off and read Leaves of Grass so I could understand those. Alas. It was still enjoyable.

Book club for teenagers

looking for alaska

What’s it about?
Looking for Alaska is a young adult novel about a boy who goes to boarding school and makes some friends, plans some pranks, falls into what might be love (or might be lust) with a girl named Alaska who already has a boyfriend, and generally deals with growing up.

Why should you read it?
Looking for Alaska is realistic fiction about being a teenager; about feeling like you don’t fit in; and also about death and grieving. It’s well-written and sensitive without being overly touchy-feely. And given that there’s a reading guide written by the author in the back of the book, it’s apparently also widely taught in schools these days. Perhaps it takes the place of A Separate Peace? They feel like similar stories to me. I enjoyed it.

A cute distraction

Let It Snow

What’s it about?
Let It Snow is three stories/novellas that focus on different characters that are all tangentially related to each other. The through-line of all three stories is that there is a snowstorm. A train gets stuck in a snowdrift. A teenaged girl, a teenaged boy, and a group of cheerleaders all leave the train to go to the nearby Waffle House. The first story is about the teenaged girl (written by Maureen Johnson), the second story is about friends of the  Waffle House employees (written by John Green), and the last story is about the teenaged boy (written by Lauren Myracle).

Why Should You Read It?
Because you need brain candy. I tossed this one off quickly while I had a cold and only a little brainpower. My tween-aged daughter enjoyed it, but I don’t think will be re-reading it like she does her favorite books. Still: an adorable distraction.