Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Arc review: The Best Worst Thing by Kathleen Lane

The Best Worst Thing by Kathleen Lane. 208 p. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, June 7, 2016. 9780316257817. (Review from arc courtesy of publisher.)

To say that Maggie is a worrier is an understatement. Not only is she worried about starting middle school, there's Gordy, her tough-guy neighbor and classmate, who's been bragging that he's getting a gun for his twelfth birthday. She's also worrying about the fate of the baby bunnies next door, some may be heading to the cooking pot. And, ever since learning about the murder of the checkout lady at the local convenience store, which she and her sisters visited moments before the botched robbery, Maggie has been obsessing about the possibility of being murdered by the criminal since he is still at large.

This unique debut is told from Maggie's point-of-view and can be a rather challenging read even though it's short. The stream-of-consciousness style used to portray her obsessions and repetitions can be disorienting. Be patient and stick it out. 

Maggie can't simply travel from point A to point B without any number of rituals (counting, repeating, checking). This glimpse into the bind that those who suffer from OCD labor under should help tween readers empathize. At the same time, there's a lot that's familiar to the average tween. She's eleven and given to flights of fancy and abrupt shifts in concentration. Anyone who spends any time with tweens being social with one another is used to this. Her relationships are changing within and outside of her family. She's recognizing that her assumptions can be wrong. She grows in the many wondrous ways that happens in these special in-between years. 

It'll be a pleasure to add this short, satisfying novel to my school's collection. There aren't a lot of books for tweens dealing with OCD. It's an important addition because it seems that severe anxiety and OCD in children is on the rise. Students may recognize either themselves or someone they know and might benefit from the respectful portrayal in The Best Worst Thing

The 2016 Schneider Family Book Award went to a YA book, The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B, in which the main character is working through his struggle with OCD. It was heartbreakingly wonderful. Different year, different committee, different age category - but I hope someone considers The Best Worst Thing.

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