Sometimes I read books because the covers look cool. Other times, it’s because they come highly recommended by friends, colleagues, and/or reviewers. Every now and again, though, I think fate reaches out to me. This book was most definitely fated. When I got an email from NetGalley that had a spotlight on this book, which included the phrase “Pure-Obsessive OCD” (aka “Pure-O OCD”) in the summary, I knew I had to request a galley. Since I have been struggling with controlling my own Pure-O OCD recently, I decided to read this book (1) to see how accurately it portrayed Pure-O OCD (based on my own experiences), and (2) as bibliotherapy. For those who don’t know, by the way, Pure-O OCD is a lesser-known form of OCD that “has fewer observable compulsions, compared to those commonly seen with the typical form of OCD (checking, counting, hand-washing, etc.)” It was very obvious that Tamara Ireland Stone did a lot of research and took her time interviewing the teen who inspired her interest in this topic. Sam’s intrusive thought spirals and panic attacks felt very real, and her therapist often sounded just like mine!
Ever since kindergarten, Samantha has been a part of a clique called the “Crazy Eights.” Even though she finds herself drifting from the group, and despite the fact that her therapist has recommended that she work on finding new, less “toxic” friends, Samantha feels stuck. She is too afraid that parting with the clique will leave her without any friends and also make her a target of their bullying and gossip (like another girl who previously left the group). Because of her OCD, Samantha lives in constant fear of not only her intrusive thoughts and panic attacks but also the possibility that people will find out how “crazy” she is. When Samantha meets a girl named Caroline, who offers to show her something that will “change her life,” she actually goes for it. She follows Caroline, discovers a secret poetry club, and starts to make new friends. Writing poetry helps her to work through her feelings, and making new friends helps to boost her confidence… But will it be enough for Samantha to finally accept and just be herself?