tears upThis was just beautiful. So beautiful! I flew through the book, read the rest of 250 pages I still had left to read in 2 and a half hours. It was glorious, it was beautiful, I would highly recommend this book to everyone! Be prepared to cry.
I am so glad that I went and pre-ordered this one some months ago. It is always a tricky thing buying a book without knowing much about it but the blurb, maybe a small excerpt, and the cover. But I am definitely happy with this one. It was even better than I had hoped.
It is a book about OCD, about a little toddler going missing, but it is also about family, about friendship (old and new), about acceptation, about love. And yes, I have to say that I cried. It was at times quite heartbreaking. Not only because a little kid disappeared, but I also felt so sad when we find out the truth behind Matthew’s OCD.
Yes, the main focus for a part of the book is Matthew’s OCD, it is so well written, I do say I have no OCD myself, but I know about anxiety, I do know how it feels when something spins out of control, I do know the feeling of needing to check over and over again, to be afraid. I was just so sad for Matthew, for the fact that he himself was hurting, but also to see his family not knowing what to do and hurting so much. Even the dad. Even though I hated him throughout the book because of what he did. He probably didn’t mean it to be mean, but I wish he had just stopped and asked. I just wish he would have been a bit more accepting towards what was happening to his son. Instead of making rude remarks, being angry all the time. We did see that it was breaking the dad’s heart, in small hints here and there, but I just wish it was a bit more open, that others also saw it. It is something I see more often in other books, men holding in their emotions, or at least not showing the sad one.
Matthew’s OCD manifested in cleaning, but also in numbers. He is deadly afraid of the number 13, and if it pops up in the time, or in other things you will see him do a little thing in his head, trying to get rid of the number 13. His cleaning was never enough for him. He kept cleaning, kept scrubbing, trying to clean himself with bleach. It was just heartbreaking to see a kid go through this. We see him bump into someone and he just has visions of him or his family dying, of germs crawling up to him, of illness coming to him. Even something as simple as someone coming into a room is pure hell for Matthew.
But along the way came Melody. A girl who lives in the same cul-de-sac as him. A girl who isn’t afraid to help Matthew. I loved how they bonded, even though I was teary when they fought. Generally because of misunderstanding, and Matthew’s ever growing fear of disease, death, germs.
I was happy that they never gave up on each other, instead opening up to each other. Showing their fears and secrets. Because yes, Melody also has a secret, a secret that people might not accept so readily.
As we see Matthew spiral into OCD hell even more, there is something else that happens in his little neighbourhood, a tiny toddler, the grandchild of his neighbour, disappears, and Matthew is the last to see him, right before he disappears. Matthew who always looks out of the windows and observes everything (and is thus dubbed Goldfish boy, or Fishy by the two grandchildren, but also later Jake). Matthew who earlier saw what the toddler’s little sister (horrendous little girl) did to her brother and was just on time to find help, Matthew who also saw so much more happening in the cul-de-sac. Thanks to all this he is able, with the help of Melody and later also Jake (more on him in a bit), to solve the mystery of what happened to the little kid.
Of course he bumps against resistance on all sides. His parents, the police, the adults, no one believes him, and they often openly mock him or look at him with eyes that judge. But he perseveres, continues, and tries his best. I loved that kid, and I loved how he slowly got more and more out of his shell. How he went outside. How he went to therapy sessions. How he desperately wanted to be normal again.
The reason for his OCD? I won’t spoil, but boy. That was just so terribly sad. 🙁
What happens to the toddler, and also who took him (as that is quite soon clear)? I had a few suspects, but I didn’t expect those people until the last moment, until certain things turned that way. I loved that the author did this. Sometimes the mystery is easy, sometimes you can easily see the culprits, but not in this one. It is a lot of mystery, and a lot of hints, clues, and twists and turns that will have you guessing right up until the end.
I didn’t totally like Jake, but with his backstories (Yes we do get some chapters that explain more about Matthew, about Jake, about their friendship. We also get backstory chapters about Matthew and what happened to him.) I started liking him more and more. Sure, he was still mean, but I could see what happened. Poor guy. I know the feeling. I won’t say why, but I know his pain. I just wanted to hug him. Tell him I understand.
All in all this is a book that is an emotional rollercoaster. It is a book that won’t let you go. It is a book about mystery, but also, foremost, about OCD. The author did a magnificent job.
I also have to say that I loved the little illustrations at the beginning of the chapters.
Highly, very highly, recommended!