Review: Don’t Touch by Rachel M. Wilson
Published September 2nd, 2014 by HarperTeen.
Step on a crack, break your mother’s back,
Touch another person’s skin, and Dad’s gone for good . . .
Caddie has a history of magical thinking—of playing games in her head to cope with her surroundings—but it’s never been this bad before.
When her parents split up, Don’t touch becomes Caddie’s mantra. Maybe if she keeps from touching another person’s skin, Dad will come home. She knows it doesn’t make sense, but her games have never been logical. Soon, despite Alabama’s humidity, she’s covering every inch of her skin and wearing evening gloves to school.
And that’s where things get tricky. Even though Caddie’s the new girl, it’s hard to pass off her compulsions as artistic quirks. Friends notice things. Her drama class is all about interacting with her scene partners, especially Peter, who’s auditioning for the role of Hamlet. Caddie desperately wants to play Ophelia, but if she does, she’ll have to touch Peter . . . and kiss him. Part of Caddie would love nothing more than to kiss Peter—but the other part isn’t sure she’s brave enough to let herself fall.
From rising star Rachel M. Wilson comes a powerful, moving debut novel of the friendship and love that are there for us if only we’ll let them in. (Goodreads)
When we locked eyes, the ease of his stare and the welcome of a smile made me feel like one of two fixed points in a hurricane. The building could have crashed down around us as he smiled, and I wouldn’t have noticed.
Don’t Touch explores mental illness in the form of OCD. The main character Caddie struggles with OCD, anxiety, and a fear of touching. It seems likely that Caddie has suffered from anxiety and possibly OCD for awhile, but her fear of touching stems from her mother and father separating. She believes if she doesn’t touch anyone that her father will return. She turns it into a game of sorts. Caddie has started at a new school, the Birmingham Arts Academy. She auditions for a role in Hamlet despite her fears. She also is paired with her former best friend Mandy as a peer pal and immediately becomes friends with Mandy’s friends.
The only character that stood out was Caddie and maybe that’s because she was the one with OCD and as the reader, you’re waiting to see if her parents ever get back together, if Caddie eventually touches someone, etc. I enjoyed the mixture of family and friendship dynamics alongside the main focus of the story. What I enjoyed more was the plot was in no way predictable. That’s always a plus. The cast of Caddie’s new friends while entertaining never felt complete. I was never fulfilled with their story in any way. While the exploration of OCD and mental illness in general, was interesting to read about, it really lacked that little something extra that would’ve kept me up late into the night, reading past my bedtime to see what would happen next.
I think people who suffer from OCD might benefit in reading Caddie’s story. Rachel M. Wilson herself suffered from her “own fun OCD symptoms” at the age of ten, so she knows a thing or two about the subject. While that portion of the story was spot on the other portions felt lacking but not enough to dislike it. In fact, I thought it was an enjoyable read and would recommend it to those looking for a book that deals with OCD. It’s a powerful story about overcoming fear and learning to deal with your problems instead of letting it control your life. It has a healthy dose of theatre and Shakespeare thrown in, so if that’s your thing you will enjoy those moments as well.