Monday, 18 April 2016

The A to Z of Normal

Author: Helen Barbour
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Women's Fiction
Type: E-book
Source: from author
Publisher: Silverwood Books
First Published: June 15, 2015
First Line: "We arrived home before our guests."

Book Description from GoodReads: Clare Thorpe’s need for order and symmetry governs everything she owns – from tins and toiletries, to cushions and clothes.
Yet she has always managed to hide the compulsions dominating her world. Until now.
When long-distance boyfriend Tom proposes, her secret life begins to unravel. How can she share a future with the man she loves, if she can’t even share her space?
And when the only way forward brings a threat greater than any compulsive behaviour, do they have a future together at all?

A poignant and humorous story of love, family, secrets…and military precision.  

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

My Review:  This book was an interesting and compassionate look into OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and how it affects the life of Clare, a young woman who comes from a dysfunctional family.  The author shows how Clare's OCD, which focuses on symmetry and order, influence her personal space and ultimately her social and love life.

Clare is the heart of the story which focuses on her relationships with her boyfriend Tom (which was sweet), Michael - a man from her support group and her extended family. After becoming engaged to Tom, Clare is forced to confront how her OCD is affecting her relationships and how it could affect her future with Tom.  But it was her relationships with her father and overbearing sister that helped me to get a look at perhaps how and why Clare came to develop OCD as well as some issues her family members also suffer from which stem from the loss of Clare's mother.

Barbour gives the reader a personal look into the life of someone who lives with this mental illness.  The reader really gets inside Clare's head - her frustrations, her compulsions, her desperate need for order.  I appreciated that the author wrote Clare's character as someone functioning in her daily life with OCD.  She could be anyone you know because her OCD was manageable within her work/social life or at least not to the extent of the stereotypical view of OCD that is often portrayed on TV.  And while co-workers may not notice her OCD tendencies it's obvious that it influenced many aspects of Clare's life.

Clare was an easy to like protagonist.  She's sweet and you want to root for her but sometimes her decisions, for a woman of her age, felt too juvenile and impulsive.  I kept wondering why Clare didn't want to share her OCD diagnosis and daily struggle with the man she planned to marry.  I found a few of her relationships frustrating to read - namely with Michael and also her very dysfunctional relationships with her father and sister with whom Clare always either felt ignored or like the family doormat.  Though these scenes were sometimes hard to witness they also give the reader reasons to why Clare is the way she is.

Overall, this was an informative read.  I applaud the author for educating me on the subtle differences within the various types of OCD and while some of the story lines fell a little flat for me I found this to be an enjoyable read.

Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to author Helen Barbour for providing me with a complimentary ebook copy of her book in exchange for my honest review.


Helen Barbour said...

Laurie, thank you very much for taking the time to read and review my novel. I am most grateful for your very detailed and considered review.

Laurie@The Baking Bookworm said...

You are very welcome. You have shed light on the effects of OCD and I'm grateful to you for understanding more about this disorder. Best wishes on promoting your book!

Helen Barbour said...

Thanks, Laurie!

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