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Don't Touch by Rachel M. Wilson

Don't Touch

by Rachel M. Wilson

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Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick & Dirty: A beautiful story that was full of emotion, second chances, and growth. Unfortunately, this was just not a book for me, but I still think many others will really enjoy it.

Opening Sentence: “Candace Finn?”

The Review:

Caddie is just getting ready to start her senior year at a new school. She was lucky to get into the academy where she will be able to pursue a possible career in acting. There is just one big problem; Caddie suffers from a serve case of anxiety disorder. Ever since her father left she hasn’t been able to touch another human being skin to skin. Anytime anyone comes close to her she freaks out inside and does whatever she can to avoid any type of contact with others. She knows that it is crazy, but she can’t seem to help it.

At first it doesn’t seem like it is going to be too much of a problem, but then she gets cast to play Ophelia in the school play. It has been her dream to play Ophelia, but one of the scenes will require her to kiss the boy playing Hamlet. Caddie already has a slight crush on Peter, the boy who got the coveted role of Hamlet, but she’s not sure she will be able to handle touching him even if she wants too. Will she be able to overcome her fears or will she let her disorder rule her life?

I had a really hard time connecting with Caddie. I think the reason why is because I have a hard time comprehending how she became so obsessed with people touching her. I realize that her condition is not uncommon and that many people in the world suffer from something very similar to her, but personally I have never experienced anything like this so it is really hard for me to relate to Caddie. I felt sympathetic towards her but most of the time I just found her frustrating. I really wanted to connect with her but ultimately I just couldn’t. In many ways she is a very strong girl and I respected that she eventually got help with her problems. I know how hard it can be to ask for help and the fact that she did was very admirable. I think she is a great character, and I think that many people will actually be able to relate to her much better than I did.

One of my favorite parts of the book was Peter. He was so adorable and I just couldn’t help but love him. He is a total geek with amazing confidence, which is one of the main reasons he is so attractive. He doesn’t care what others think and he is totally comfortable in his own skin. I loved how patient he was with Caddie. From the first moment they met, they had great chemistry, but for obvious reasons it took a long time for their relationship to develop. But Peter never pushed her or made her feel any type of pressure to be different then who she was. I thought that he was an amazing guy and Caddie is a very lucky girl to have him in her life.

Don’t Touch is a very emotional story full of heartache, growth, and forgiveness. It was beautifully written and I felt that the message was delivered brilliantly. Unfortunately, it was a really slow paced book and I found myself skimming through a lot of it. First off, I had a hard time connecting with Caddie and overall I had a hard time connecting with the whole story. I like to read to escape and for the most part this book was pretty depressing. I can’t exactly pinpoint what was missing for me, but ultimately I think this was just not a book for me. But having said that, I think that there will be tons of people that will really enjoy this book and if it sounds interesting to you, I recommend that you give it a try.

Notable Scene:

Peter catching me staring and stares back as if we k now each other well enough for that to be okay.

It’s unnerving.

“Caddie,” he says, like he’s testing it out. I can’t think how he knows my name, but I like the way it sounds in his voice. Does he have this effect on everyone?

He takes a step toward me—Don’t touch!

FTC Advisory: HarperTeen provided me with a copy of Don’t Touch. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review. ( )
  DarkFaerieTales | Jan 9, 2015 |
I got a copy of this book to review through the Amazon Vine program. It was a very engaging and fast-paced read and I really enjoyed it.

Caddie is excited to start at the new fine arts school she got into. She is especially excited to audition for the part of Ophelia in Hamlet, the play that school will be doing that year. However Caddie is dealing with some tough issues at home and has a history of mental illness when she is under stress. Caddie has convinced herself that if only she doesn’t touch anyone her parents will get back together and everything will be okay. It has gotten so bad that any time Caddie touches or is touched by someone she goes into a full-fledged panic attack. As you can imagine it’s very hard not to touch anyone when you are trying to be the lead heroine in a play.

I really loved the characters and the story. It was a very quick read and hard to put down. The story is really driven by whether or not Caddie will get the lead role in Hamlet and whether or not she will be able to keep that role. You are also on pins and needles about whether or not Caddie will ever be able to get free from her fear.

As you can imagine Caddie’s mental illness is something that has been ongoing but has gotten more extreme in light of her parents’ separation. The book does a good job of showing how devastating something like this can be while also showing how with love, understanding friends, and some professional help these kind of anxieties can be (if not conquered) at least controlled and tempered a bit better. Caddie knows what she does is silly but she can’t seem to stop doing it.

The only part of this book I thought was a bit unrealistic was how supportive and helpful her friends were. The boy she meets and has a love interest in, Peter, is incredibly patient and understanding even before he knows Caddie has an anxiety problem. While I enjoyed how supportive her friends, family, and Peter are (and I wish the world was really like that)….I thought it was a bit contrived and unrealistic at points.

This was a different type of YA read and it was super hard to put down. I really enjoyed it; there are some sad parts but Caddie is kind of snarky too, so there are definitely some laugh out loud parts too.

Overall a very well done young adult read about mental illness and family issues. It was a different type of YA contemporary fiction. I enjoyed watching Caddie work through her issues and liked how supportive her friends and family were (even if I did think that was a bit unrealistic). I love the play Hamlet so all the scenes in the book where they are acting out Hamlet were an added bonus. I would recommend if you enjoy contemporary YA reads that have some humor and romance. ( )
  krau0098 | Oct 12, 2014 |
Caddie doesn't like to touch people and gets very anxious at even the prospect of people touching her. It started out as a game to play to cope with the turmoil in her family. Now that her parents have split up, it's an all consuming mantra. Maybe if she can keep from touching another person skin to skin, her dad will come back. She knows it sounds crazy and it probably doesn't effect anything, but she can't help it all the same. Despite the heat of the summer and the humidity, Caddie covers her whole body in clothing, even wearing evening gloves to school. Then things get tricky. She makes new friends and reconnects with an old friend that notice her weird quirks. Being cast as Ophelia in the school play won't make it any easier when she will be expected to interact and touch other actors, including Peter, her crush and the one cast as Hamlet. She wants to have a real relationship, but can't get the mantra out of her head.

Caddie has obsessive compulsive disorder, which is an anxiety disorder marked by fear or worry and repetitive behaviors aimed at lessening the anxiety. Her thoughts and fears may seem ridiculous to the reader and one might wonder why she doesn't just stop, but it's not that easy. I was very pleased with how the condition is treated in the book. Caddie does understandably work to keep it from everyone. She recognizes the behavior and thoughts are out of the ordinary and doesn't want her friends to think she's a freak. The condition affects everything in her life: her friendships, her crush, her school work, and her family. When it's revealed that she has this, her friends and family are accepting. They understandably feel a little sad that she hid it from them. I'm glad she wasn't demonized or mocked for having this disorder that she can't control and I'm glad she sought help from a professional in the end. The only unrealistic aspect was how fast the OCD was gotten over and her behavior returned to normal. It would have actually taken years in therapy and probably at least a few tries to get the correct kind and amount of medication.

The plot was fine and moved well. Her friends were an interesting group that didn't always get along, which I found realistic. I really hated Oscar because he would push people's boundaries and make them uncomfortable for fun. The romance was cute and a little frustrating. Whenever something wouln't go as planned, Peter would make random assumptions and the couple wouldn't communicate well. Other than that, I had no problems with the book. I felt it accurately portrayed the mental illness and wasn't judgmental or condemning. It's nice to see books like this because people can better understand and empathize with people who have mental illnesses. ( )
  titania86 | Oct 8, 2014 |
If it were not for the overly rapid resolution of the story, Don’t Touch would rank quite high among the list of novels specifically for young adults designed to show them options for seeking necessary help, a la Laurie Halse Anderson. Ms. Wilson takes great care to show Caddie’s panic attacks, general anxiety, and constant worry, along with the compulsions that occur as a result. This aspect of Caddie’s story is gut-wrenching, especially because one can easily envision hundreds of thousands of teenagers experiencing similar levels of guilt and betrayal about their parents’ divorce. Caddie represents so many teenagers and other young readers out there who do not know how to handle their feelings at such a loss.

Thankfully, a majority of the novel focuses on Caddie and her issues, how she hides them from friends and family, and the impact they have on her relationships as she tries to keep her secret. The key lesson of the story is the need to seek help as well as the mantra that keeping secrets does more harm than good. Based on Caddie’s experiences, friends are always willing to overlook odd behavior and help when they know the full story – something every teenager needs to know and understand whether they have mental issues or not.

Sadly, the effectiveness of the message lessens when Caddie immediately starts to improve upon breaking her silence. Caddie is struggling with very real diseases that take time, therapy, and often medication, to control. Caddie does so with therapy and does it rapidly in the context of the narrative. This rush to Caddie’s happy ending diminishes the power of the entire novel, as it turns a serious disease into something that is nothing more than mind over matter. Readers seeing themselves in Caddie might not seek the help they need because they will believe they too can decide to change their behavior and do so with relative ease.

Don’t Touch is a remarkable story of someone suffering from mental health issues. Unfortunately, the ending does not mirror the rest of the novel. Caddie resolves her problems fairly quickly and with relatively minimal effort once she sets her mind to do so. While Caddie’s suffering is very heartfelt and realistic, the ending is not. Caddie still struggles and suffers but not nearly as long nor as much as she did when the novel first opens. She even manages to get her fairy tale ending. Unfortunately, mental health issues are not something someone can just mentally decide to “get over” and do so. That this is essentially what happens to Caddie, it sets a poor example to young readers struggling with similar issues and looking for solutions.
1 vote jmchshannon | Sep 2, 2014 |
I wanted to read this book as the premise was another one that got my interest. To be honest, I did not pick up on the book summary that this was a story about someonw with OCD. Not that it would have changed my mind in wanting to read it. I just was expecting something different from this book. What I got was Caddie was definitely OCD. To the point that it really messed with her connection with people and relationships. So this distance really made it kind of hard for me to gain a connection with Caddie. Also, it did play a part in the romantic relationship she was trying to start with Peter. Which since that was not really there, compiled with Caddie's emotional lack of distance and the slow story line, I finally gave up on this book. ( )
  Cherylk | Aug 24, 2014 |
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