OCDaniel by Wesley King
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.
Daniel is different. He has a ton of strange habits, quirks, that he tries his hardest to hide. The people around him notice but don’t really notice them. He has OCD but he doesn’t know what it is or even it’s name. Written in first person, Daniel talks about his many rituals, the way they affect his life, and when his symptoms first began. There is also family drama and struggles with school, as well as a mystery to solve.
The story made me so sad. Daniel tries so hard to cover up his habits and quirks, to the point that not even his parents are fully aware of them. As a mother myself, it would break my heart if my daughter felt the need to hide compulsions and panic attacks, and I constantly wished that Daniel would talk to someone. Or that his mother would notice. His father only appears to be interested in football, something that Daniel neither particularly enjoys nor excels, and those are the only conversations that seem to occur between them.
Daniel is an aspiring writer, and is writing his own story during the course of this novel. That story is full of action and very fun to read. There is a story going on in the main part of the novel too. He makes a new friend and with it becomes entangled in solving a murder mystery. His new friend Sara seems to be the only one that truly understands Daniel and sees more to his quirks than just the weirdness that everyone else seems to view them as.
OCDaniel is a good glimpse into the world of Obsessive Compulsive Disorders, and is pulled from the author’s own experiences. The author has also written a sort of prequel about Sara’s character, that I am definitely going to have to check out.