Thursday, May 12, 2011

Review: Compulsion by Heidi Ayarbe

Compulsion by Heidi Ayarbe
Published by Balzer + Bray
Date Published May 1st 2011
Rating: 4.5/5
Today has to be perfect.
Magic.
I look at the clock.
10:14 am.
Ten fourteen. One plus one is two plus four is six plus ten is sixteen minus one is fifteen minus two is thirteen. OK.
I turn from the clock and walk into the hallway. "Ready.”

Saturday will be the third state soccer championship in a row for Jake Martin. Three. A good number. Prime. With Jake on the field, Carson City High can’t lose, because Jake has the magic: a self-created protection generated by his obsession with prime numbers. It’s the magic that has every top soccer university recruiting Jake, the magic that keeps his family safe, and the magic that suppresses his anxiety attacks. But the magic is Jake’s prison, because getting it means his compulsions take over nearly every aspect of his life.

Jake’s convinced the magic will be permanent after Saturday, the perfect day, when every prime has converged. Once the game is over, he won’t have to rely on his sister, Kasey, to concoct excuses for his odd rituals. His dad will stop treating him like he is some freak. Maybe he’ll even make a friend other than Luc.

But what if it doesn’t work?

What if the numbers never go away?

Acclaimed author Heidi Ayarbe has created an honest and riveting portrait of a teen struggling with obsessive compulsive disorder in this courageous and breathtaking novel.
Honestly, I started this book and was kinda meh about it. Getting used to the character’s HIGHLY OCD voice was a bit of a challenge. I, for one, am not a math girl. And it did take awhile to get into, but as the story progressed, I found myself not only having deep, heart-felt sympathy for main character, Jake, but loving his best friend Luc, his little sister Kasey and even social-oddball and childhood best friend Mera.

Seriously, between the trust test with Luc and Jake’s dependence and protection of his little sister, I LOVED the characters. Everyone one of them was believable and heart-warmingly real. I would even so go far as to say that this book has some of my favorite non-romantic relationships between characters ever. Mera was an added comedic relief, but all of them certainly had their funny moments too.

The thing that hit me the hardest was Jake having no idea what was wrong with him; he went through his obsessive and insane routines without ever being able to know what it was called. He called himself crazy and strived for “normalcy” and hated what only just came natural to him.
To say that I live in a “normal”, disorder-free family, would be very untrue. I’ve dealt with a number of psychoses firsthand and the expression “knowing is half the battle” is one true mantra. I’ve wanted to punch characters, I’ve wanted to shake characters, but no character has ever elicited such strong and undeniable sadness from me. I just wanted to jump into the story and hand him a pamphlet of “OCD and You”.

And because the character didn’t know and it absolutely broke my little heart, here’s a short PSA brought to you by Jennifer and the US government:
OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) is “Obsessive-compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder in which people have unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, ideas, sensations (obsessions), or behaviors that make them feel driven to do something (compulsions). Often the person carries out the behaviors to get rid of the obsessive thoughts, but this only provides temporary relief. Not performing the obsessive rituals can cause great anxiety.” (http://1.usa.gov/gs0KZK)
I picked up this ARC randomly at TLA and read it on a friend’s recommendation. It was gritty, real, intense, sweet and heartbreaking all in one. Needless to say I loved it and will be checking out Heidi Ayarbe’s other works!

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