Rachel M. Wilson
Genre: Contemporary, YA
Publication date: September 2nd 2014
A powerful story of a girl who is afraid to touch another person’s skin, until the boy auditioning for Hamlet opposite her Ophelia gives her a reason to overcome her fears.
Step on a crack, break your mother’s back. Touch another person’s skin, and Dad’s gone for good.
Caddie can’t stop thinking that if she keeps from touching another person’s skin, her parents might get back together... which is why she wears full-length gloves to school and covers every inch of her skin.
It seems harmless at first, but Caddie’s obsession soon threatens her ambitions as an actress. She desperately wants to play Ophelia in her school’s production of Hamlet. But that would mean touching Peter, who’s auditioning for the title role—and kissing him. Part of Caddie would love nothing more than to kiss Peter—but the other part isn't sure she's brave enough to let herself fall.
Perfect for fans of Laurie Halse Anderson, this debut novel from Rachel M. Wilson is a moving story of a talented girl who's fighting an increasingly severe anxiety disorder, and the friends and family who stand by her.
-A copy was provided by HarperTeen for review-
When I started reading Don’t Touch I didn’t expect for it to be the experience that it ended up being for me. I had some very uncomfortable realizations about myself as I made my way through it’s pages and it became a story that I don’t think I will ever forget.
Before I tell you why this one really hit home for me I want to talk about the novel for what it is. It’s the story of Caddie, a young girl who has just started school at an academy for performing arts. It’s the story of how her anxiety has led her to believe that bad things will happen if she touches other people and it’s the story of her working through that fear. Putting a character like Caddie in an academy like she was in in the novel is a very interesting choice. There are a lot of touchy feely people so it really threw her for a loop once she realized the type of people she was going to be dealing with on a day to day basis. Homing her in a bit was that fact that Mandy, an old friend of hers, goes to the school and is there to help her fit in. We watch Caddie struggle with hiding her fear of touch while at the same time opening herself up to new relationships. I felt really stressed out by her need to follow the rules of this “game” that was in her head which was constantly hindering her want to embrace these new people in her life.
The characters in the novel are fantastic. Caddie gets in with Mandy’s group of friends and they are all loveable and quirky in their own unique ways. I loved how the secondary characters really became people that I cared about, not just people who were there. Peter, who Caddie begins to fall for, was awesome. The understanding and compassion that he shows towards her as she works through her issues was amazing and had me swooning more times than I can count. He wasn’t played out to be the most handsome guy on Earth or even perfect in any way, which is why I could relate so well to the relationship that builds between him and Caddie. That’s what most romances are in real life, right? Two flawed people coming together and learning to accept and even work through their issues together.
Now for why this was such an experience for me. Since my early 20’s I’ve had really bad issues with my jaw. The dentist got me fitted for a splint thinking that would help with the locking that I experience on a daily basis but when that didn’t help he said something that made me mad. He started asking me if I had a lot of stress and anxiety in my daily life and I pretty much scoffed at him and told him where to shove it. Dentist man, stay dentist man do not try to be therapy man, okay? Then my sister mentioned to me once that I always seem really high strung and that she thought I should maybe talk to my GP about it and once again I told here where she could go with that suggestion. But while I was reading through this book I realized that I am pretty sure both my dentist and my sister have good points. Anxiety manifests itself in everyone differently, in me it’s a lot of jaw clenching leading to terrible pain and many many sleepless nights. I don’t think I really understood what anxiety was and the physical ramifications it can have until I read Don’t Touch. I’ve always known that I am a very obsessive and worrisome person but I didn’t realize that the pain I am often feeling in my body could in any way be associated with those issues. I am thankful for this book because it has prompted me to make some long overdue phone calls to see what I can do about all the things I have been struggling with for so long.
You’re not here to read about me and my sob story, you’re here to read what I thought about this novel. All I can say is that it deals with a new side of OCD that I had never been faced with before. When I thought about people who didn’t want to touch others prior to reading this novel I always thought it had something to do with germs but this is a whole new spin on the issue for me.The only complaint I can think of to mention about Don’t Touch is that once Caddie does open up about her issues to others she begins getting over everything rather quickly. I found it a little hard to believe that she would be as open as she was so fast in the final moments of the novel. This one ended up being a very changing experience for me and for that it is not one that I will soon forget. I hope this novel finds it’s way into so many pairs of hands in hopes that it could have an effect on them like it did me.