Spencer Hesser, Terry. Kissing Doorknobs. New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell
for Young Readers, 1998. [149 pp.]
In Kissing Doorknobs, Terry Spencer Hesser has provided a compelling, moving, and sensitive account of one young woman's struggles with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. At first her symptoms seemed innocent, but later they progressed so much that they interfered with her life, causing her friends to abandon her and her parents to haul her from one doctor to another, receiving multiple incorrect diagnoses. Kissing Doorknobs provides an up-close and personal look at a commonly misunderstood biological disease, animated characters to help bring the story to life, and the extremely important theme of never giving up.
The story begins by introducing the main character, Tara Sullivan. At the age of eleven, she heard the phrase: step on a crack, break your mother's back. Then she started counting cracks everywhere she went, in constant fear of breaking her mother's back. Tara was an outcast throughout most of elementary school. While her friends were trying to look like the models in magazines and starting to date boys, Tara was busy playing with troll dolls, counting cracks, and kissing doorknobs. No one considered that she possibly had a disease. Her friends and family called her crazy, and the psychiatrists diagnosed her with A.D.D, anorexia, and immaturity. OCD is a commonly overlooked disease, and the following quote shows the stress that can be caused if it is not diagnosed at an early stage.
"Employing a sort of demented Pavlonian reasoning, my mother threatened to slap me every time I did the doorknob ritual so that I would associate it with pain instead of pleasure--as if there was any pleasure involved in this. Taraaaa!' she'd warn as I approached the door. But I couldn't think about her. I could only think about what I had to do. Whether I wanted to or not. I looked at the doorknob
" (99) Tara could not explain the irrational urges to...
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