Hardcover: 415 pages
Publisher: Harper Teen (2nd Sept 2014)
Step on a crack, break your mother’s back. Touch another person’s skin, and Dad’s gone for good.
Caddie can’t stop thinking that if she keeps from touching another person’s skin, her parents might get back together... which is why she wears full-length gloves to school and covers every inch of her skin.
It seems harmless at first, but Caddie’s obsession soon threatens her ambitions as an actress. She desperately wants to play Ophelia in her school’s production of Hamlet. But that would mean touching Peter, who’s auditioning for the title role—and kissing him. Part of Caddie would love nothing more than to kiss Peter—but the other part isn't sure she's brave enough to let herself fall.
Perfect for fans of Laurie Halse Anderson, this debut novel from Rachel M. Wilson is a moving story of a talented girl who's fighting an increasingly severe anxiety disorder, and the friends and family who stand by her.
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I have a thing for what I call in my head, “tentative love stories” - which is pretty self explanatory as you can guess. For me, Don’t Touch was one of those stories. (Others include the likes of Easy by Tamara Webber, one of my all time favourites - review for which can be found here in case you were wondering wink)
Don’t Touch was different for me in terms of how it introduced a topic which I’ve not read about much in fiction and especially contemporaries. The issue of OCD was handled well by the author, through our main character Caddie. Admittedly I haven’t read enough on such a topic but even then I felt like it explored OCD in a wary but informative manner whilst sticking to the storyline. It sheds light on how such conditions effect reality in a tangible way and especially for teens rather than just adults.
I also enjoyed that it wasn’t just about the romantic arc in the story, (something which I’d never thought I’d say given how much I love romance lewl), but rather it was focused on the issue itself at hand (pun intended) as well as family dynamics, loyalty and inner strength. It’s not just another YA romance, teen book, but rather incorporates a lot of features that makes it both a good and informative read. The author constructs a plot that I enjoyed reading, with characters that I was invested in. From the main characters to the background supportive crew which added vibrance to the story.
At times I felt like Caddie’s fear and reasoning behind why she didn’t want to be touched made no sense at all. It seemed illogical to me, and I tried to put the two together; where her desire to stay away from contact would bring her dad home. All the while I kept thinking okay, the author will give me link between these two eventually, it will make sense. But it was at the end, that I realised that was the point. OCD and these conditions don’t make sense. Aren’t suppose to make sense. For someone who is blessed to be healthy and rational, reading about and trying to imagine myself in Caddie’s shoes wasn’t possible. It’s an internal process for her, which made sense to her, but wasn’t meant to for us. This made me like Caddie’s character more than I initially thought I would, because I couldn’t understand her struggle in the way I wanted to, it made me appreciate her efforts more.
As with the character of Peter, of course I would fancy his pants. He was interesting. He was cautious. Careful. Joyful. A lot of things and the way he approached and looked out for Caddie in the end was touching (again, pun intended). Throw in the fact that these two starred across each other in a play, did scenes sizzling with chemistry, with Caddie trying to not touch him but all the while itching too, just made the buildup all the more wonderful. I loved the dynamic between the two, the mirroring of their feelings in the characters they play and the emotions they’re trying to get across subtle in those scenes. All good stuff mayn.
There was something about the story that did bug me somewhat at the end. I don’t know how much of a spoiler this will be so warning and hazard lights up ahead in case this doesn’t kill it for some. But at the end, when Caddie gets past her condition by simply reasoning to herself and reaching out to touch Peter - I felt like this should have been a slower process with the involvement of therapy or at least some more steps in between. All this time we see Caddie battling with her condition, only to see it at the end get overcome in a handful of sentences and actions. Maybe it’s just me, but I felt like the overcoming of this should have taken more work.
All in all though, I enjoyed this story a lot and appreciate the effort from the author. The romance was slow burning, the issues were explorative, and the characters were fun and great to read about. I look forward to reading more of Wilson’s stories in zee future.