‘The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B” by Teresa Toten (2013)
Genre: Contemporary, YA, Fiction
Page Length: 272 (paperback edition)
When Adam meets Robyn at a support group for kids coping with obsessive-compulsive disorder, he is drawn to her almost before he can take a breath. He’s determined to protect and defend her–to play Batman to her Robyn–whatever the cost. But when you’re fourteen and the everyday problems of dealing with divorced parents and step-siblings are supplemented by the challenges of OCD, it’s hard to imagine yourself falling in love. How can you have a “normal” relationship when your life is so fraught with problems? And that’s not even to mention the small matter of those threatening letters Adam’s mother has started to receive . . . (description from Goodreads)
The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B gives readers an in-depth look at OCD by breaking down the stereotypes of what it is and how serious the condition can really be. I felt an instant connection with the main character, Adam, from the very beginning of the story. He’s the underdog who is trying to get a better hold on his condition while struggling with the fact that he feels stuck in the middle of life.
The novel has an enjoyable cast of characters that brings their own colors to the story and I love the tight-knit bond they form with each other (ex. calling each other their superhero code names). Inside and outside of their weekly group they work to help each other work through their issues.
As for the romance in the book, Adam is immediately attracted to Robyn, but doesn’t act on it right away even though he really wants to. Adam and Robin do have an instant connection but they start out with a budding friendship that eventually turns into a romance. They also act as a source of strength for each other.
It was eye-opening to read the pov of someone who has OCD, and after I finished the book I got a better understanding of what people with that condition struggle with and how it can easily escalate as well as various ways it can be treated.
This novel is a great story that highlights the seriousness of OCD, but I appreciated that it doesn’t wrap itself completely around the disorder. It not just a book about OCD, but rather it’s a story about a boy who has to overcome his fears and tries to gain courage over his extreme anxiety. It’s also a well-written coming of age story and it does a good job of showing the obstacles that we are sometimes faced with at that period of our lives.