Kissing Doorknobs

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9780385323291: Kissing Doorknobs

In her first novel, Kissing Doorknobs,  Terry Spencer Hesser has written an inspiring, often humorous novel about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, a topic that merits discussion and compassion.

Fourteen-year-old Tara Sullivan has always been a worrier.  On the surface, she has been able to behave like a normal girl.  But when she is 11 years old, she hears a phrase that changes her life: Step on a crack, break your mother's back.  Now, everywhere she goes, Tara must count every crack in the sidewalk.  If she gets interrupted or loses her place, she has to go home and start all over again.  As she gets older, her "habits" don't get better--they change and increase.  She has to arrange her meals, recite prayers, and chat with her dolls, over and over again.

Tara does not know why she has these habits, she just knows that she has no choice: she has to complete the rituals.  Then one day, before leaving the house, she finds herself kissing her fingertips and touching the doorknob . . . .


Terry Spencer Hesser is a screenwriter and a documentary filmmaker. Kissing Doorknobs is based on her personal experience with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

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Review:

Despite recent media attention, obsessive-compulsive disorder remains perplexing to those who haven't experienced the illness firsthand. In her compassionate debut novel, Terry Spencer Hesser skillfully and credibly explains exactly what OCD feels like, as well as the effects it has on surrounding friends and family. Tara Sullivan first encounters her compulsive behavior at age 11, when she hears of the sidewalk game "Step on a crack, break your mother's back." Most people have had the experience of toying with this rhyme, but for Tara, it becomes something worse: "I couldn't not think the thoughts. And I couldn't not count the cracks." In one of several compulsive rituals, she must count every sidewalk crack between her house and school. If she is ever interrupted or loses her place, she must run back to the beginning and start over, or her mother's spinal health will be endangered. She recognizes this as absurd behavior, and gets absolutely no pleasure from the exercise, yet nonetheless feels inexplicably compelled to perform it.

Hesser traces the arc of Tara's illness through several misdiagnoses, the expansion of her compulsive behaviors (obsessive prayer rituals and the need to touch the doorknob then kiss her fingers 33 times before leaving the house), and the reactions of her loved ones. Tara's sister responds by beating up anyone who makes fun of the compulsions, her anguished mother's answer is increasing violence toward her daughter, and friends alternate between acceptance and frustration. Deftly illustrating the depth of Tara's strained relationships, Hesser also addresses anorexia, shoplifting, drug use, and unsafe sex, subtly reinforcing the idea that these behaviors--though perhaps compulsions as well--are different from OCD in that they inspire some measure of enjoyment for the participant. Nominated by the Young Adult Library Services Association as one of 1998's Best Books for Young Adults, Kissing Doorknobs addresses a cutting-edge issue with grace, humor, and insight. While the novel refuses to make false promises, it provides an inspiring message of hope. (Ages 12 and older) --Brangien Davis

From the Publisher:

The first novel for young adults that addresses Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). With approximately 1.5 million adolescents in the U.S affected, OCD is a pertinent issue to young readers. This story not only explores the confusion and fear experienced by 14-year-old Tara, but the anxiety and agony parents face when a child is suffering from OCD.

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Hesser, Terry Spencer
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers (1998)
ISBN 10: 0385323298 ISBN 13: 9780385323291
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
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Ergodebooks
(RICHMOND, TX, U.S.A.)
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Book Description Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 1998. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0385323298

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