Book Reviews

Book Review: OCDaniel by Wesley King

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Middle Grade, Mental Health
Rating: 4 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes
Favorite Quote: “Because even though we’re extraordinary, I think we could still use a little help.”


ABOUT: Daniel is the back-up punter for the Erie Hills Elephants. Which really means he’s the water boy. He spends football practice perfectly arranging water cups—and hoping no one notices. Actually, he spends most of his time hoping no one notices his strange habits—he calls them Zaps: avoiding writing the number four, for example, or flipping a light switch on and off dozens of times over. He hopes no one notices that he’s crazy, especially his best friend Max, and Raya, the prettiest girl in school. His life gets weirder when another girl at school, who is unkindly nicknamed Psycho Sara, notices him for the first time. She doesn’t just notice him: she seems to peer through him.

Then Daniel gets a note: “I need your help,” it says, signed, Fellow Star Child—whatever that means. And suddenly Daniel, a total no one at school, is swept up in a mystery that might change everything for him.

With great voice and grand adventure, this book is about feeling different and finding those who understand.


My Review:
OCDaniel is the book the world needs today to add to the conversation on the realities and misconceptions about mental health disorders. I liked the story and how it was told, but mainly I respect the book for what it is, what it represents, and how uplifting it is. I feel I can put myself in Daniel’s shoes, literally and figuratively. There is something special about Daniel’s character that anyone connects to some part of what he goes through day to day.

Daniel thinks he’s crazy, not normal. Unbeknownst to Daniel, he clearly has extreme OCD, or obsessive compulsive disorder, which affects his daily life functions. Numbers and specific routine commandeer his life in a way that the slightest shift off course causes extreme anxiety and feelings of dread or impending doom as if he will die if he doesn’t do any specific routine correctly. This is aptly represented by his night routine before he goes to bed. It can take hours to satisfy his anxieties before he is able to go to bed and sleep.

Like anyone with a mental health disorder, whether they are aware of it or not, Daniel fears his “abnormality” being discovered. This “abnormality” doesn’t fit the mold of “normal” so he fears being judged by everyone. Hiding it causes more anxiety as seen throughout the story. He wants to be normal – be accepted by his family – and doesn’t want to let anyone down – helping Sarah out – that he is unable to help himself. So Daniel assumes he must be “crazy” if he isn’t “normal.”

Daniel plays football even though he doesn’t like or care about it. He does it to form some bond with his dad and be a normal kid like his peers. But the only one who seems to notice him – really see him – is Sarah, the figurative elephant in any room because she never speaks and has a TA with her always.

And what a wild adventure Daniel goes on amidst his character development. As he tries to figure out why he does what he does, he is helping “fellow Star Child” solve a possible murder. The blend of the too reminds me of Turtles All the Way Down by John Green because both stories bring focus to mental health and how it affects your daily life through an accessible lens.

I enjoyed this story. Anyone can really take something away from this book. We need more stories like this for all ages because we need to be mindful of our mental health in order to function properly. I would recommend OCDaniel for sure.

2 replies on “Book Review: OCDaniel by Wesley King”

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