Kendra has always felt overshadowed by her older brother, Grayson, whose OCD forces him to live a life of carefully coordinated routines. The only way Kendra can stand out next to Grayson is to be perfect, and she has perfection down to an art -- until a cheating scandal threatens her flawless reputation.
Behind the wheel of her car, with Grayson asleep beside her, Kendra decides to drive away from it all -- with enough distance, maybe she'll be able to figure everything out. But eventually, Kendra must stop running and come to terms with herself, her brother, and her past.
With undeniable grace and humor, acclaimed author Jennifer Brown explores OCD, the pressure for perfection, and the emotional highs and lows of a complex sibling relationship.
Published July 10th 2012 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
The Elliott Review:
I had to read this book because it deals with OCD and the effect that it has on those around that person. So far, most of the books I've read touch on the bizarre, disturbing thoughts of the OCD person themselves. It was interesting to get to read what it's like on the other side, having to deal with the absurd behavior. Kendra's manner of dealing with Grayson's mental illness is to try to be the "perfect" one who gives her parents no problem, almost like she's related to an addict. She feels enormous pressure to preserve that image at all costs, including cheating and getting herself into massive trouble at school.
Rather than facing the consequences of what she's done, Kendra decides that she and Grayson need to escape via ultimate road trip. She's escaping from the idea that she is not perfect, and she wants to help Grayson learn to escape from the controlling compulsions he always succumbs to, kind of like an intense sort of exposure therapy session. At the end of their journey, she's hoping to reconnect with a friend that they lost due to Grayson's illness, that things can be the way they once were.
Along the way, they meet Rena, who decides to escape her own problems along with them. Their journey teaches them many things in different ways. This is a book that takes a lightish view of a heavy subject and makes the trip enjoyable.
Young Adult Notes:
This is a relatively warning-free read. Mild language, sensitive topic of mental illness.