OCD, The Dude, And Me by Lauren Roedy Vaughn
I don't know what I expected when I picked up this book, but it was nothing I could have anticipated. I, generally, avoid the summary on the insides of book jackets. I find they just don't give an accurate picture of the story within. Of course, this means that when I see talk about a title, but haven't read anything about the story, I'm never sure what's in store for me.
Danielle Levine is a mess. She's in an alternative school, but it still has the same cliques as any other. There are the pretty people and the athletic people and the smart people, etc. Danielle is angry and messed up and very neurotic and when you find out the reason why (which was a total surprise to me and I loved that, so no spoilers here) you just want to hug her and love her and protect her.
As I said, Danielle is a mess. She's even having some issues being appropriate and holding it together in a school filled with people equipped to handle it. Her counselor sends her to a social skills group. My feelings about groups like this and the way this one is managed totally mirrored Danielle's. But, she managed to get something really great out of it, despite the assortment of misfits she's sharing this time with and their hapless leader.
I feel like I've been reading way too many books with support groups in them. In Fight Club you have the main character who attends nightly support groups for diseases he doesn't have in an attempt to cure his insomnia; there's a lot of group therapy in Silver Linings Playbook and The Fault In Our Stars, and I just finished, but haven't reviewed yet, The Reformed Vampire Support Group, which is about, well, just what the title suggests. I gather that this may be a great way for people to find others in their situations and maybe even help them, but it's really not anything I could imagine for myself. In some of the cases in these books, I know it's totally right for these characters.
Okay, back to Danielle Levine. She's got real issues that you know about and that she deals with matter of factly, she's got real issues you know about that she's having a lot of trouble with, and she's got real issues you discover later on and you wonder at the resilience she must have. And, even though it comes in really late in the book, all of the The Big Lebowski references and information totally made me want to take up Dudeism.
I don't know if this book came out with a bang and died with a whimper, if it got nominated for book rewards, or if it's just languishing, lonely on library and bookstore shelves. I do know that Lauren Roedy Vaughn wrote some of the best characters I've read this year. She wrote them well and she managed to surprise me with a brick wall of a reveal that I never saw coming... and that is a rarity in and of itself.