Author: Rachel M. Wilson (Twitter)
Publish Date: September 2, 2014
Genre: YA, Contemporary
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.
Books that tackle mental illness head-on tend to either really work well or fail miserably. Honestly, they're risky, if only because there are so many differing opinions, misconceptions and preconceived notions about what, exactly, these diseases entail. And so, when I began Don't Touch, I went in with an open mind and a very, very guarded heart. Tackling OCD and anxiety head-on, author Rachel M. Wilson takes a daring approach and gives readers what they really want - a no holds-barred look at the psychological ramifications and repercussions of such mental illnesses - all the while giving us characters whom we can love and respect.
Caddie was the perfect protagonist for this story. She offered us a refreshingly honest take on her condition, and her anxiety was played out perfectly on each and every page. As someone who has dealt with extreme anxiety in my life, I could understand the trepidation she felt, and each jarring, emotional moment rang increasingly true throughout the story. Moreover, Ms. Wilson makes certain that we're not just watching Caddie's journey from afar. We're put in Caddie's shoes, and we feel the enormity and sheer weight of this crippling disorder that plays out on her mind all the time. It's a powerful writing device, and I have to admit that it was done so well, that I actually had quite some anxiety reading the more intense moments of the novel. Heavily immersive, Don't Touch really worked for me on that level.
The plot of Don't Touch moved a little slower than I normally liked, but for the most part, it worked. This wasn't the type of story where I needed every little moment to build into some awe-inspiring crescendo. Rather, it was in those subtle moments and minute intricacies that we saw the depth of Caddie's desire to get better, the graciousness and heart of Oscar and the beauty of Peter's persona. I'm always a bit hesitant when it comes to contemporary romance novels, but I have to say that Ms. Wilson balanced this one really well. A huge part of the teenage existence is that insane desire to feel a first love, and watching Caddie grapple with the desire to manifest her emotions was really powerful. In turn, Peter was the picture-perfect love interest, but he offered us depth and a real strength of character, to boot. Honestly, he's one of my new favourite YA love interests.
Don't Touch has flown relatively under the radar in many of the blog circles I've seen, but I do hope that this underrated novel finds its niche because it is really, really well done. Ms. Wilson should be commended for the sincerity of her novel, as well as the depth and understanding of both anxiety and OCD. I give it a 5 out of 5, and I highly recommend it to all fans of YA, especially those who enjoy contemporary and light romance novels.
I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.