I just finished OCDaniel by Wesley King (Simon & Schuster, 2016), and I LOVED it! Written from the perspective of Daniel, a boy with OCD, OCDaniel depicts an illness that is too often misunderstood: OCD. I definitely recommend adding this middle grades realistic fiction title to your shelf!
OCDaniel is on my children’s literature students’ reading list for our realistic fiction work this semester. (Elly Swartz’s Finding Perfect is also one of the titles.) So far I have heard positive feedback about the book and am anxious to hear more of what my students think as they discuss it over the next two weeks.
Here’s what I love about the book:
Daniel’s voice. I loved how King makes his character come alive. The insight readers gain into OCD is enriched by Daniel’s unique voice and perspective. He’s a personable guy and plays such a vital role in helping those without OCD gain insight into his world of zaps. Of course, one without OCD cannot understand every intricacy of the illness, but Daniel’s presentation offers a look into one type of OCD.
It’s a book about writing. I LOVE books that include protagonists who write. This idea of writing as an escape or as a mode of self-discovery is prevalent in other books that feature mental or physical illness, too. I think particularly of Swartz’s Finding Perfect and Neal Schusterman’s Challenger Deep.
OCDaniel does an exemplary job of normalizing struggle. And not just the struggle that comes with mental illness. For example, Daniel’s best friend Max, who is the star of the football team, tries so hard to impress his absentee father. King does a good job conveying this idea that ‘we all have something.’ And this message is so very important for middle grades readers. And all readers, really.
Even though Daniel has a major crush on Raya, it is his relationship with a girl named Sara, a girl who is not always understood by her classmates, that really helps him understand himself. OCDaniel is a book that is as much about the power of friendships as it is about revealing one’s struggles with OCD.
I really enjoyed this book and am so excited to discuss it with my students!