… the high school senior who can’t fit in at her alternative school? This sounds like the plot of just about every young adult novel ever written, but stick with me – Lauren Vaughn’s OCD, the Dude, and Me isn’t an ordinary misfit novel. Danielle has frizzy red hair, a plus-size body, a sarcastic attitude, and (as the title indicates) clinically diagnosed OCD, which makes for an extremely difficult social life. As she navigates through her final year of high school, she writes a series of self-aware and highly personal essays for her English class, which lands her a series of appointments with the school psychologist and enrollment in a “social skills” class for other teenage misfits. Danielle is determined to keep everyone at arm’s length, but when she meets Daniel, another social outcast who is obsessed with The Big Lebowski, she finds herself warming to her witty and unusual new friend.
This book was fantastic. I picked it up initially because I wanted to see how the author dealt with the concept of teenagers and mental illness. Much to my delight, she treated the subject with dignity, accuracy, and compassion.
Danielle is one of the most relatable young adult heroines I’ve read about in a long time. She’s not a wilting-flower-damsel-in-distress-love-obsessed-gloomy teenager girl who happens to be the most desirable person in the history of forever. She’s a complex, confused, frustrated teen who is constricted by the traditional expectations set by her teacher and her family, and she reminded me a lot of myself in high school. In fact, there were a couple places in the book when I had to put the book down because of how strong my emotional reaction was.
Ultimately, the message of the book is hope – hope of finding new friends, hope of finding a place to belong, and hope of overcoming adversity. This is a novel I will happily recommend to male and female readers of all ages, because this story really does transcend gender and age boundaries. And you don’t even have to be a fan of The Big Lebowski to enjoy it!
Reviewed by Katie (staff)