When Adam meets Robyn at a support group for kids coping with obsessive-compulsive disorder, he is drawn to her almost before he can take a breath. He’s determined to protect and defend her–to play Batman to her Robyn–whatever the cost. But when you’re fourteen and the everyday problems of dealing with divorced parents and step-siblings are supplemented by the challenges of OCD, it’s hard to imagine yourself falling in love. How can you have a “normal” relationship when your life is so fraught with problems? And that’s not even to mention the small matter of those threatening letters Adam’s mother has started to receive . . .
Teresa Toten sets some tough and topical issues against the backdrop of a traditional whodunit in this engaging new novel that readers will find hard to put down.
Where do I even begin with these 270 pages of goodness? It was a harrowing look into OCD and the effect it has on not only those suffering from the disorder but those around them too. But even though it was an emotional book about serious issues, there’s an abundance of humour and wit that made it an absolute delight to read. This is my favourite book about OCD that I’ve read so far and I cannot recommend it more highly.
While the book ostensibly is about the romance, there was so much more to it. In fact, I think the romance was the least important aspect of the book. It’s really a book about OCD and the struggles that our main character, Adam, has to go through and the impact OCD has on his daily life. It’s about the friendships that he forges and the relationship he has with his family members. It was a truly beautiful book and a very honest and accurate depiction of OCD and the extent to which it can significantly affect a person’s daily life. I really loved that the novel really focused on this debilitating effect that compulsions can have on a person and their ability to go about their day to day activities. I feel as though most OCD books that I’ve read have focused on obsessions with cleanliness or perfection and haven’t really addressed how people suffering from OCD aren’t able to do a lot of things that others would consider normal because they spend so much time performing rituals to make themselves feel better. I thought The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B dealt with this exceptionally well, along with other ways OCD can manifest. If you want something that’s very impactful, while remaining genuine and realistic, you can’t go wrong this book’s depiction of OCD.
“I sweat terror, Robyn! I’m scared every single second about every singled goddamned thing. I worry obsessively about being buried under an avalanche of fear. Jesus, Robyn, I’m scared like only the truly crazy can be.”
“But that, you dope, is the definition of courage: you go on, despite the fear.”
But even more than the accurate portrayal of OCD, I loved the characters in this book. If you love a character-driven story, you will really enjoy this book. Adam is now one of my favourite protagonists of all time. He was so endearing and sweet and I loved him to bits. It’s just almost impossible not to love him and be swept into his life from the very first page. He was so relatable and, despite him having to deal with his crippling anxiety, he was supportive of others around him and took care of those who needed help. His voice was unique and wonderful to read from. I felt like I completely understood him and was with him every step of the way. I also absolutely loved the side characters. There was such an eclectic set of characters all with their own little quirks. Adam attends a weekly support group with other teenagers and young adults who suffer from OCD. Together, they take on superhero alter egos and it’s just so crazy adorable and funny. They take their alter egos so seriously as well, purchasing merchandise to wear and styling their hair to match. I just really enjoyed the group dynamic and how they really supported each other inside and outside of their support group. It was just so wonderful to see them develop friendships and look out for each other (I love Thor so much!). There was no judgment and only understanding between them and I really appreciated that they gave each other space to deal with their own issues. My heart was just swelling with love for those characters. If you’ve read this book, I think you’ll understand.
I also really loved seeing Adam’s family and the role they played in this book. They all have their own problems too and it’s not always the case that they’re supporting and caring for Adam; he does the same for them too. When his 5-year-old half-brother struggles with his own anxiety problems, Adam is always there to soothe him, take care of him and be his superhero. When his mother receives some terrifying and threatening letters from an unknown source, Adam is there to give her reassurance and act as a semblance of normality in their household. He’s there to help her with her own hoarding issues. I really loved all of the relationships in this book but it was the way that Adam and his family interacted that really had me emotional.
And of course, there was the romance between Adam and Robyn, which was simultaneously a massive part and a tiny part of what the book was about. From the very first page of the book, Adam is in love with Robyn. He thinks she’s perfection in every single way and wants nothing more than to marry her and be with her forever. He’d do anything for Robyn, including saving her from her OCD and fixing himself so that he can be the best person he can be for her. There were times when Robyn came across as a little bit of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl but I never ended up minding that she was portrayed that way. Sure, she was put on a bit of a pedestal but she had her own flaws and the way that her and Adam’s relationship unfolded was so realistic and genuine. Their relationship progressed at the perfect pace and it was just so, so adorable and sweet. I loved that they were really there for each other and that they were able to be honest with each other and push each other to be better.
I have so much more that I want to say about this book but this review is getting out of hand. Just know that I absolutely loved this book and will now recommend it to everyone for the rest of my life as one of my favourite books of all time. The plot was great. The characters were great. And the feels were so, so real.