The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten
ARC received by Edelweiss
Adam Spencer Ross is an almost 15 year old with some serious baggage. He suffers from OCD. As if this wasn't bad enough he also has to attend a group meeting once a week with other OCD sufferers, he has to deal with the issues at home with his mom, and trying to balance his family life with his father, stepmother, and little brother who also has quirks and it sometimes seems as if Adam is the only one that can reach him. If this wasn't enough to get Adam's head to spin, life has another wrench to throw his way, and she's pretty much a 15 year's kryptonite: Robyn Plummer. Now all Adam has to do is overcome his OCD, figure out what is going on with his mother, maintain a healthy relationship with his father, and win the heart of the girl with the bright blue eyes, who is also in his support group.
Much of what is happening internally with Adam can be seen through the group scenes, but this is not a story that clinically and sterilely defines OCD. Instead it defines what many YA books do, growing up in a messed up world with messed up issues and ultimately defining yourself. Adam is one of those characters that begs you, with puppy dog eyes, to like him in an understated way. He is more like "Hi my name is Adam, and this is me, like me for who I am." And I do, I really do. What killed me the most, and usually does when you work with youth, is not his issues and what he has to overcome personally, but the issues of the adults around him, and how they tend to bleed into his development and subsequent issues. Most of the time we are so engaged in looking at the person, that we don't see how those around them can be the most detrimental. There's love in this story, there is acceptance, growth, lies, truths, and final escape. I wouldn't trade Adam for all the superheroes in the world, after all Batman doesn't have super powers but he sure can get the villain. Even Robyn could have been an unsympathetic character, but in the end she's a teenager... they are going to lie. My life is a bit richer for having had the chance at peaking into the life of these characters, and I am beholden to Toten for having given readers the opportunity to understand Adam's story in a simplistic yet deep and meaningful way.
4 stars, Thanks Edelweiss!