Every year I like to give myself a reading challenge in an effort to expand the type of books I read (and my list of favorite authors.) This year, I decided to really try to read more diverse books — books by authors of different backgrounds starring characters who lives were different from mine. A big thing I wanted to do was read more narratives about mental illness. Lately there’s been a huge push for more, and better, depictions of mental health in movies, television, and books. I wanted to read some of these emerging narratives for myself!
That’s why I super excited to hear about Obsessed, a new memoir from Allison Britz. It’s the true story of her struggles with OCD, the symptoms of which emerged for her in high school. It’s a sensitive, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful story, and I loved every moment of it. I know you’ll love it to, which is why I put together a list of five reasons you should read Obsessed. Check out the book and then let me know what you thought of it in the comments below!
1. It’s a memoir about mental illness
Mental illness is a big, important, misunderstood topic. A lot of teens go through struggles with mental illness every day, and can feel isolated and alone because the lack of material out there that’s sympathetic, empathetic, and understanding of what they’re going through. But Allison Britz really went through everything she describes in Obsessed. Her personal struggles with OCD at fifteen portray an important, real-world narrative of how hard it can be to struggle with mental illness — as well as how you can find hope and get to a better place with the help of others.
2. It’s nonfiction YA
I have said this before, and will say it again — YA nonfiction is one of my favorite genres. True stories about real teens and their struggles are relatable, interesting, and generally pretty awesome.
3. It reads like a novel
Of course, Obsessed is a very specific type of nonfiction — a memoir. It’s all written in first-person present tense, so it reads a lot like a novel even though every portrayed really happened. That means that it’s super exciting and interesting while also being totally, 100% true. What a combo!
4. It’s intense and visceral
The writing in this book is just fantastic. It really puts you directly into Allison’s shoes, and makes you feel like you’re right there with her. Check out this passage:
“With a deep breath, I clumsily practice the steps we’ve been working on for weeks now. I look down, taking my eyes away from the mirror ahead, and see my foot plant itself across a crack in the surface of the stage. Pausing mid-movement, I look closer. There’s another crack. And another crack. And an explosion. CRACKS, CRACKS, CRACKS, CRACKS, crackscrackscrackscracks. Cracks cause brain cancer. Cracks cause brain cancer.
My head bursts with a searing pain above my ear and I fall forward, resting against my knees, trying frantically to adjust the position of my toes so they’re off the cancer cracks. I feel my hand slap hard against my ear, right on top of the site of the new tumor that’s sprouting in my brain. No, no, no. Please no.”
It totally hooked me from the start, and it’ll hook you too!
5. It’s super inspiring
Allison Britz struggles a lot in this novel with going through OCD. But these are experiences from when she was a teenager — now she’s a grown adult with a job and a steady life. The novel charts her deterioration but it also covers her hopeful recovery. And while it’s not an easy process, it is a doable process, offering hope to anyone else who feels like they’ll never get out of the situation, circumstances, or troubles they’re in.