When Molly's mother announces she's moving out of town for a year to take a new job, Molly works really hard to keep her world from falling apart. Her father is always busy, so Molly looks after her younger brother, Ian, worried that any mistake will bring harm to him. Her older sister, Kate, is not optimistic that their mother will ever return. More and more, Molly finds comfort in routines she can control, like counting, or cleaning, and organizing everything - her socks, her glass figurine animals, and folders for school. Lately, she's finding it harder to do things she used to do. Like she's having trouble sleeping because she needs to flick the light switch on and off to feel okay. And she can't help her neighbor in the garden because the idea of getting dirt under her nails is too repulsive. More and more, she feels like she needs to keep her worries secret, but her friend Hannah and her little brother are starting to notice all the little things adding up.
Molly decides on a plan to win a poetry slam contest. Surely it will be covered in the newspaper, and then her mother will be so proud that she'll have to come home and realize how much she misses all of them, and how she needs to stay.
Molly's anxiety about her obsessive-compulsive disorder, especially as she tries to keep it secret, may not be something that other readers experience specifically, but many upper elementary/middle school readers can empathize with strong feelings of anxiety about other issues. Molly's desire to protect her younger brother is sweet and believable, as are many of the details in her relationship with her friend, Hannah. I like it that this story is about more than Molly's problems with OCD - there are other issues at stake. The OCD does tend to affect everything in her life, which is the point, but it makes for a rather heavy read, since she struggles so much through everything without being able to enjoy it.
"I washed my hands forty-four times that day. Forty-four. I don't know if it was weirder that I washed my hands so many times, or that I counted."
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