Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 9 to 12
- Grade: 4 to 7
- Reading age: 9 to 12
Chick is a popular fourteen-year-old who is essentially on this earth to live up to his father’s impossible expectations—or, at least, that’s how he feels.
This pressure is a grinding source of anxiety for him, which he copes with by making lists. He itemizes every aspect of his life, from his daily routine to the things that make him nervous. But as the pressure of school and his budding romance with his debating teammate Audrey builds, his compulsion starts to feel impossible to control—or conceal.
About the author
Alex Van Tol taught middle school for eight years, then made the switch to writing for a living. A writer of fiction and nonfiction for kids and teens, she has published over 10 books including Great Bear Rainforest: A Giant-Screen Adventure in the Land of the Spirit Bear with Ian McAllister and several titles in the Orca Currents, Soundings and Sports lines. Alex lives in Victoria, British Columbia, with her family.
"Short chapters and quickly paced plotting make this another swift read in the Orca Currents line of high/low books for struggling readers. This should find readers beyond that audience, though, as it deals with quintessential topics such as romance, OCD, and parent-child relationships."
"Teen readers who suffer from anxiety or OCD behaviors will find hope that understanding and help are out there...Well written and engaging...[with] a strong sense of the characters."
"Van Tol is to be commended for bringing Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Complex to the Currents table and serving it with just enough seasoning to make it interesting, believable, and palatable...It serves to demonstrate that even successful people can have hidden difficulties and that much can be overcome with a little help form one’s friends."
"Van Tol realistically depicts a down-to-earth protagonist and a family on the verge of change as Chick diagnoses himself with OCD. Chick’s lighthearted, supportive relationship with his girlfriend, along with his father’s emotional shifts, bring positive elements to this satisfying story."
"Chick is a likeable narrator, and Van Tol writes convincingly, particularly when describing the feeling of compulsion that overwhelms Chick periodically...An engaging story with themes of independence and light romantic interest that will be of interest to pre-teens and young teenagers...The mental health angle encourages empathy and compassion within readers."