Monday, May 14, 2012

Oxford Messed Up by Andrea Kayne Kaufman

Author: Andrea Kayne Kaufman
Publisher: Grant Place Press
Date of Publication: November 2011

Rhodes Scholar Gloria Zimmerman has come to Oxford University to study feminist poetry. Yet the rigors of academia pale in comparison to her untreated Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, fueled by her overachieving parents and manifested in a deathly aversion to germs and human contact. Her next-door neighbor (who is also, to her mortification, her loomate) is Henry Young, the appealing but underachieving English music student. Still mourning the death of his supportive mother while enduring the mockery of his disapproving and merciless father, Henry is haunted by the unexpectedly serious ramifications of a reckless and tragic youth. Gloria and Henry's relationship evolves from a shared obsession with Van Morrison's music into a desire to fill the gaps in each other’s lives. Yet the constraints of a debilitating illness and the looming revelation of a catastrophic secret conspire to throw their worlds into upheaval and threaten the possibilities of their unlikely yet redemptive love.

Oxford Messed Up was a well written story about two pretty messed people and the love and healing they find in each other.  Gloria suffers from OCD and Henry is a former drug addict who fells like a failure and a fraud.  When they find out they are sharing a bathroom, they begin a tentative friendship.

I really liked Henry and Gloria.  I think they were very good for each other.  This was not a co-dependent relationship. Instead, they both are able to see the potential in each other.  This allows them to begin to change and grow.  I also think it helped that both of them are away from their overbearing and domineering parents.  After reading about Gloria's mother, it isn't any wonder why she has OCD. Henry seemed to have followed right in his father's path into addiction.

While I did enjoy the overall story, I have to admit that the Van Morrison references and song lyrics were lost on me.  I'm not a big fan of his music, so I had a hard time relating them to the story.  Maybe if I had known his music better, I would have liked it more.  Also, I thought that Gloria got over her OCD kind of fast.  I know that Cognitive Behavior Therapy is very effective, but it just seemed too fast.  Especially for someone who has lived this way for so long.

I think readers will enjoy Oxford Messed Up.  It is, in its essence, a sweet love story.  This is the first book I have read by Ms. Kaufman and I look forward to seeing what she comes out with next.


Anonymous said...

nice idea.. thanks for sharing.

Andrea Kayne Kaufman said...

Hi Kari,
I'm so happy you liked Oxford Messed Up! One of the things that often surprises readers is just how quickly CBT can work. As the author and someone who has experienced OCD in my family, it was very important for me to be accurate. My experience and research shows it is a lifelong struggle that is bigger and smaller and can definitely be triggered by life stressors. In our experience, medication coupled with almost religious CBT caused dramatic improvement in just a few months. Thanks so much for your review!

Kari Boardman said...

You are most welcome. Thanks for the follow up info!