Don't Touch by Rachel M. Wilson Review

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Title: Don't Touch
Author: Rachel M. Wilson (Twitter)
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publish Date: September 2, 2014
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 432
Source: Publisher

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.


  1. Wow, 5 stars?? Well, I'm not usually a huge fan of contemporaries but I feel like something that gets 5 of 5 stars from you ought to go to my list for sure! Great review, Melissa!

  2. I read this one some time back and unfortunately didn't love it as much as you did although I thought for sure I would.
    While I loved Caddie's story, I thought the writing itself lacked some emotional depth to make me fully invested in the story. I also had issues with how her mother and friends at school didn't take her idea of wearing gloves to school without questioning it much, especially her mother. I did appreciate the message the book sent though.
    Great review, Melissa and I'm glad you loved it so much! :)

  3. "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."

    Well, then. Sign me up for Peter! He sounds amazing, as does this entire story. The fact that you gave it a rare 5 means it's a book I cannot miss out on. I honestly hadn't given this one much thought, but now it's on the top of my list for sure. Beautiful, beautiful review:)

  4. I actually had to set this one down, as it wasn't really grabbing me. But your review makes me want to give it another shot sometime! The thing that really grabbed me about Don't Touch initially was how it was going to tackle a form of mental illness, and I'm curious to discover the portrayal you mention in your review for myself.

  5. Wow, beautiful review Melissa, at first I thought this was a paranormal but I actually prefer the angle of exploring anxiety and mental illness in this one. I think it's a topic that is often overlooked in YA, and glad to hear this one does it well. I will definitely pick up my copy soon!

  6. That cover kind of creeps me out -- is that weird? Five stars from you is incredibly impressive! Not sure if this is a book for me but...maybe, especially since you liked it so much.

  7. This sounds SO unique and well-written. I'm really into psychology and whatnot, so this sounds really intriguing. :) Caddie sounds like a wonderful protagonist that is really relatable, and it sounds like that definitely makes the story. And I love the sound of the writing style! Witnessing all of this from Caddie's shoes makes it so emotional and touching. Thanks for sharing Melissa, and, as always, BRILLIANT review! <3 Definitely going to give this one a try. :)

    ~ Zoe @ The Infinite To-Read Shelf

  8. Woah, 5 Stars? I'm so glad this novel really worked for you, Melissa. It has been flying under the radar but the few reviews I have seen of this have been quite disappointed, which is why I decided to ignore my ARC entirely, but your review has me giving my ARC a few second glances. Perhaps I'll give this one a shot after all. Fantastic review, dearest!

  9. This definitely sounds like an interesting one. I agree about mental health being a tricky one to capture right in literature, but this one sounds like one that for me would not be too difficult to read. I am glad you managed to enjoy this one so much!

  10. Wow, high praise!! I must admit that this one has definitely flown under my radar so I guess it really didn't receive a lot of exposure in the book blogging community. It's too bad because as you say, books that deal with mental illness can often fail badly so it's so great to hear that this one was handled well. Lovely review!

  11. So glad to hear this one holds up! I think there need to be more YA (and more books generally) depicting different types of mental health issues, but at the same time, it does no good if they portray them inaccurately or handle the subject matter insensitively... so I can completely understand you being cautious! Sounds like Rachel M. Wilson does a wonderful job of how she handles the topic of anxiety/OCD. It's awesome that you were able to connect so well with the characters in this book.

  12. Wow, I've actually been overlooking this book because I didn't think it was for me, but 5 stars?! Now I'm definitely reconsidering because of your high praise. I love books that show a realistic depiction of mental illness, and find a nice balance between the romance and the other plot developments, so this may just be for me. Wonderful review, Melissa!

  13. Wow! 5 stars? I didn't really think I would pick this one up but how can I do that now after reading your review? I will definitely keep my eyes out for a copy, Melissa. It's really good to know that the author handled the themes in this book splendidly. Beautiful review as always!

  14. omg yay I am so glad that you loved this one as well, Melissa! It was truly a touching book and i love how Hamlet was incorporated into it.

    Fab review, lovely <33

  15. Oh my goodness, this sounds amazing! That cover, that synopsis, that review! AHH! I literally cannot handle it and I need to get my hands on a copy.

    P.S. I have missed the book blogging world with a burning passion and am really considering coming back. For now, I am just going to visit my favorite blogs. ;)

  16. Great blog and you are always provided with access to provide useful information like this to us.


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