What a clever title! And the cover is fun and catchy as well.
Seventeen year-old Chuck Taylor has some intrusive and unwanted thoughts, like "The stove burners might have been left on...and they could burn the house down." These obsessive thoughts nag and nag at Chuck, skyrocketing his anxiety, until he executes a compulsive behavior to try to neutralize that anxiety. For example, he checks the burners to make sure they're turned off. He doesn't double-check or triple-check, he quadruple-gazillion-checks, which can last HOURS.
It's obvious Chuck suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and these rituals make it hard to live a normal teenage life. Somehow Chuck manages to do well in school and has a great friend named Steve, but when new-girl-at-school Amy asks him to tutor her in Calculus, he faces imminent disaster. He's totally crushing on her, but how can he act normal around her? If she finds out he has OCD, will she reject him?
Afraid of losing Amy, Chuck finally relents to starting therapy and the antidepressant Lexapro. He soon discovers that kicking this OCD thing is a lot harder than it looks.
This is definitely a book for the older YA crowd. Though author Aaron Karo tackles a serious subject matter, he is a comedian, and I giggled throughout the book. The first page discusses Chuck's compulsive count of his masturbation episodes.I just began my masturbation tally again on January 1st. I don't know why I'm compelled to keep track of it. And to make matters worse, I'm already beating (no pun intended) last year's pace.
Chuck's friend Steve, who apparently looks like a pale Milhouse from The Simpsons, has the unfortunate last name of Sludgelacker. Naturally the school bully immediately nicknames him "Fudgepacker". *shakes head*
My opinion on the authenticity of therapy in this story is a mixed review. The author gets it right when Chuck's therapist uses a version of cognitive behavioral therapy (exposure and response prevention) to try to extinguish the compulsive behaviors. But it's highly unlikely that Chuck sees a psychiatrist for talk therapy--he'd more commonly see a psychologist or a master's level therapist for the talk therapy and a psychiatrist (medical doctor) for the medication. But perhaps that would've been cumbersome to the plot. I'm a bit disappointed that the therapist isn't very likable, though Chuck's description of her as a "pear...a tiny little head and the rest of her body just expands from there" did crack me up.Dr. S. has been in a much better mood in the past few weeks since I started taking the Lexapro.
Hmm, Chuck. Is it your psychiatrist Dr. S who's changed, or is it YOU? I love books where characters go through significant transformation, and ultimately this book offers a lot of hope for change.
This is a quick, enjoyable read and I encourage you to give it a try!