The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten
|The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten|
|Reviewer: Sophie Diamond|
|Summary: Heartwarming, charming and insightful. A look at how everyone’s brain works a little differently to their neighbour. A book that needed to be written and that everyone should read.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 263||Date: March 2015|
|Publisher: Walker Books|
Fifteen year old Adam has a list. He needs to get better, grow taller and marry the love of his life, Robyn. But while Adam develops a metaphorical tunnel vision so that he can focus only on winning Robyn’s love, everything he is ignoring in the periphery is unravelling. How can Adam help his own overwhelming OCD when he’s so focussed on fixing everyone around him? When is it ok to hang up your own superhero cloak and admit that you might need saving?
The front cover of this book tells you that it is perfect for fans of John Green and Rainbow Rowell; well I completely missed the John Green boat, but I’m so happy I’ve caught the Teresa Toten one. The Unlikely Hero of 13B is a difficult subject matter, told with the most beautiful skill and sensitivity, Toten is a master at work. The protagonist Adam has an increasingly severe form of OCD and the story begins at his group therapy where he meets the love of his life, Robyn. From that point onwards, Adam’s entire focus is on winning her love and his illness, while progressing, is not the focal point of the story. This was a fantastic thing to do because it stops the story from being too heavy and prevents Adam from being defined by his Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. This is a brave and progressive take on teen fiction, it has all your usual angst with a more unusual (and more interesting) hero.
Having Adam as the protagonist was a genius move. He’s instantly loveable but the empathy I felt for him as a reader was almost painful. Everyone knows that being fifteen can be difficult, having divorced parents, half-siblings and step mothers can be difficult but having to deal with all of this while being ill, well, difficult isn’t even the word. On top of all the usual teenage pressure and family drama, Adam has to deal with the shame he feels about his OCD. When Adam thinks about how ashamed he feels about his rituals, you want to reach through the pages and hug him. But the most admirable thing about Adam is that despite all of this, he never feels sorry for himself. He barely thinks about himself at all, he just wants to help his mother, his brother, his group and Robyn. All he wants is for Robyn to love him back.
I loved, loved, loved this book. It’s warm, funny, relevant and teaches a very important lesson about tolerance. It was so interesting seeing the world the way Adam sees it, to metaphorically walk a mile in his shoes was eye-opening. Mental illness is as real, upsetting and debilitating as having anything physically wrong with you. The stigma associated with it can be as crippling as the disease and hearing Adam feel that way about himself is nothing short of heartbreaking. But what’s truly brilliant about the story, is that despite Adam’s illness being an integral part of the plot, the story is about a boy who has fallen in love, and what could be more normal than that?
This book may be directed towards teenagers but I would recommend this to anyone who wants to read about the world in a different way. I personally can’t wait for more of Toten’s work.
I want to say a big thank you to the Bookbag and Walker Books for my review copy.
If you like the sound of this, you would also enjoy The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten at Amazon.com.
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