Caddie’s starting a new school, one that geared toward the arts, and if starting a new school wasn’t pressure enough, her parents have temporarily separated. This leads to a game Caddie plays, don’t touch. Don’t touch another person’s skin or dad will never come home. Don’t let anyone touch her skin or mom will get hurt. Everything is riding on her not touching and not allowing touch. This interferes with her dream of being an actress, and getting cast as Ophelia for the school play. Peter, auditioning for Hamlet, just might be the person most likely to ruin her game and change everything.
The concept of this book really intrigued me but also made me nervous. Would it be handled sensitively? Would it be pushed aside for romance? Would it have a lasting effect? Once I started, my fears disappeared. It was clear the author knew how to handle the subject of OCD, it wouldn’t be treated as some plot device.
It was impossible not to feel for Caddie. She was this smart, mature, determined young woman who was very aware that the “games” she played and her fear of touch were not common and likely didn’t matter in the end, but there was always that what if in her head. What if she did touch someone then something bad happened? It would be her fault for breaking her rules. Her anxiety any time someone came close to a touch was suffocating. It made my chest hurt. There were many times she could have told someone about Don’t Touch to explain why she would jerk away from a friend or react unfavorably to a surprise touch – even through clothes, but telling was a huge risk and I understood why she wouldn’t take it. Telling could have meant losing her friends, telling could have meant breaking a rule, telling could have meant someone not taking it seriously. I also loved that we saw Caddie make some progress then take a few steps back and all the signs that it wasn’t something that would just go away forever and never come back. I really appreciated the fact that while it was obvious to the reader that Caddie had OCD, it wasn’t the only thing about her that was focused on. She had friends, she had school, she had a family, she had dreams, she had a life.
Friendships were a huge part of the story. In particular, Caddie and Mandy, who were reconnecting after Mandy switched schools a few years earlier and now they were both at the same school again. Mandy was so sweet and supportive but also had her own issues to work through. Mandy’s group of friends welcomed Caddie easily and she fit in really well. Livia and Hank were hilarious, especially together, Oscar took some time to grow on me but he was a good job – just a bit oblivious, Mandy’s boyfriend Drew could be sweet but his anger was also a little scary. Then there was Peter, sweet Peter. The dynamic between him and Caddie was brilliant. I could go from smiling at their banter to panic that he was too close and might touch her in a second.
Throughout the plot, the group of friends were auditioning and then rehearsing for Hamlet. The audition scenes, rehearsals, backstage drama, the play were all part of the book and it was a lot of fun to read.
This was a book that will definitely stick with me and I’m definitely adding this author to my watch list.
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.