31. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Courtney, Teen Books

OCD, The Dude, and Me by Lauren Roedy Vaughn, 240 pages, read by Courtney, on 05/02/2013

Danielle has always had a tough time fitting in. She has extreme OCD and, in spite of going to a special school for kids with “unique learning profiles”, she feels like a pariah and does her best to avoid people altogether. This frustration and isolation comes out in her writing, so her English teacher insists on sending her to a class where she will have to learn “social skills”. It is here that she meets another outcast, Daniel, who is a major fan of The Big Lebowski and teaches Danielle the benefits of a Dudist philosophy.
So, I read this book mainly because I’m a huge Big Lebowski fan and was extremely curious to see how the film might be worked into the plot line of a YA book. Imagine my disappointment then, when I slowly realized that the Dude wouldn’t make any kind of appearance until the last third of the book. Not that the book wasn’t enjoyable to read. It is a very quirky tale about a girl who deals with some serious mental health issues. Danielle has a very supportive family (she’s adopted, however, and often feels as though she must be a disappointment to her perfect-seeming parents) and dedicated teachers. The entire story is told through Danielle’s papers for her English class (life writing exercises), journal entries and letters (both to and from Danielle). This definitely shows off some of the eccentricities in Danielle’s way of thinking, but may alienate the unprepared reader. We never really get a full objective view of any situation, but as Danielle is painfully self-aware, we still feel like we get a pretty good idea of what’s going on. I still ultimately wish that there was more Lebowski discussion. I mean, when a movie like that is referenced in the title of the book, one would that movie to play a much larger role in said book. Oh well, it’s still an interesting glimpse into the mind of someone struggling with a very challenging mental health issue.

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