Title: OCD, the Dude, and Me
Author: Lauren Roedy Vaughn
Publication Date: March 21, 2013
With frizzy orange hair, a plus-sized body, sarcastic demeanor, and “unique learning profile,” Danielle Levine doesn’t fit in even at her alternative high school. While navigating her doomed social life, she writes scathing, self-aware, and sometimes downright raunchy essays for English class. As a result of her unfiltered writing style, she is forced to see the school psychologist and enroll in a “social skills” class. But when she meets Daniel, another social misfit who is obsessed with the cult classic film The Big Lebowski, Danielle’s resolve to keep everyone at arm’s length starts to crumble.
This book wasn’t what I was expected. Before I started reading it, I didn’t know it was written in a journal style. I haven’t read something written that way in many years, so it was kind of refreshing. I also think the style makes it more accessible to younger readers because of the simple language but snappy, sarcastic tone.
I also wasn’t expecting the book to be so focused on the issue of weight due to the title. To be perfectly honest, I don’t even remember if OCD was part of the story, and I read it only last week. I saw social anxiety, but not really OCD. I think weight is an important topic to discuss in YA, and I’m glad to see a couple so-called “plus-sized” (size 8, by the way, is not plus-size) heroines popping up (ex. Eleanor from Eleanor & Park).
I personally didn’t really dig the Big Lebowski aspect of the story. Maybe I would’ve found it more meaningful if I’d actually seen the movie. Personally, I don’t really like stories that so focus on references from pop culture, because I think it narrows the audience and I end up feeling like I’m missing something from not knowing them.
Something else I wasn’t sure about was Danielle’s relationship with Justine. I just didn’t think it was very realistic and, having been on trips abroad in high school myself, I don’t think it could have happened.
I also wasn’t completely sold on the Danielle-goes-to-an-alternative-school thing. The other students she described didn’t seem to have disabilities or different ways of learning/thinking.
In addition, it kind of upset me that the issue of sexual assault was completely ignored. That’s basically what what’s-his-face does on the school trip to London while they’re stuck in Canada. Some stupid kid dares him to feel Danielle up, and even though she clearly doesn’t want him to, he does anyway. I was really expecting further exploration of that incident and was disappointed with how quickly the issue was dropped.
I also found Danielle’s voice too young, even for high school. I thought it was kind of weird that there was this heavy emphasis on Danielle’s passion for writing when in reality, she really wasn’t a good writer. I didn’t buy the teacher’s comments either, especially for high school. I realize this is a work of fiction, of course, but that teacher really concerned me.
OCD, the Dude, and Me was a short read, but I didn’t find myself wanting more. Though some important issues are explored, I was expecting something different, and wasn’t a fan of Danielle’s voice.