OCDaniel by Wesley King is about Daniel, an eighth grader with obsessive compulsive disorder. Daniel doesn’t realize that his actions are part of a disorder until a friend (Sara) helps him. He is able to (mostly) hide his “zaps” among his friends and family; although, there are definitely signs to everyone that he is different.
There are many story lines, with the most important being Daniel’s behavior. He struggles in math because of his inability to write certain numbers. He also gets by on very little sleep because of his nighttime routine, which can sometimes take hours. Sara is the first person to give a name to what he is going through.
Next is the sports conflict. Daniel is the alternate kicker on the school’s football team, despite his preference to arrange Gatorade cups on the sidelines rather than play. His best friend Max is one of the team’s star players and he does his best to include Daniel. Daniel needs to step in as kicker during the playoffs and final championship game which creates a high amount of anxiety for him.
Third is Daniel’s relationships with two girls. One is his longtime crush Raya, who seems to like him back. The other is his newfound relationship with “Psycho Sara.” She has never spoken to anyone at school, except for when she suddenly begins talking to Daniel. Sara suspects her mother’s boyfriend of killing her dad and wants Daniel’s help to discover evidence to prove her theory.
Throughout the story, Daniel is writing his own novella, which provides some therapy for him. The book in some ways mirrors his feelings, with the exception that his and Sara’s characters are in a world in which everyone else has disappeared. They need to conquer the monsters to bring everyone back.
While reading, I couldn’t help but question how his parents never caught on to his behaviors? While they asked him about his moving around at night and even flicking the light switch, their questioning never went any further. I found myself thinking about my own parenting. Would I be able to catch these type of actions? The author explains that he went through similar experiences and that his parents also had no idea of what he was going through. This makes me sad for kids like Daniel and Sara. Kids who feel alone, afraid and uncomfortable around others. Daniel’s character is lucky in that he has a few solid friends that keep him grounded. In this way, his novella mimics his life; he realizes that the strength of someone who understands you can help you face whatever is scary or uncertain in the world.
Together they work to find enough evidence to support her theory. Also writing his own book through the story.