Every book lover has read a book that had such an impact in their life that they can read it over and over again. For me, it’s Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, read for the first time in the 8th grade. The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B has the potential to affect a teenager’s life the same way that Speak affected mine.
When Adam meets Robyn at a support group for kids coping with obsessive-compulsive disorder, he is drawn to her almost before he can take a breath. He’s determined to protect and defend her—to play Batman to her Robyn—whatever the cost. But when you’re fourteen and the everyday problems of dealing with divorced parents and step-siblings are supplemented by the challenges of OCD, it’s hard to imagine yourself falling in love. How can you have a “normal” relationship when your life is so fraught with problems? And that’s not even to mention the small matter of those threatening letters Adam’s mother has started to receive . . .
Adam is a truly wonderful character, a character that you can sympathize with without pitying him. He is a strong, brave boy who not only has to deal with divorced parents, a mother who is getting threatening letters, all of the angst and desire that comes with being a fifteen-year-old boy, but he ALSO has an extreme case of OCD. It pained my heart to read about the amount of times he had to count, or tap his foot, until he “felt right”. Imagine having to feel nauseated by the prospect of walking into your own home without performing a certain ritual. It reminded me of my own OCD tendencies, they can literally take over your life.
Adam, wonderful Adam, deals with all of that and spends the remainder of his day worrying about his mother, his half-brother, Robyn, his father, his Group Therapy friends, and pretty much anyone he knows. He genuinely wants to save everyone and that takes an even greater toll on him than he realizes. Talking is his only form of freedom. When he actually opens up and talks to the group he feels a weight lifted off his shoulders. He finds his voice and the world doesn’t crumble — who’d of thought?
And Adam felt fine. Shockingly, brilliantly fine. Once again, he had told. once again, a relief so pure and powerful rocked him to the core.” (Page 181 of the ARC)
There is something so special about this novel, I can’t even put it into words. It’s the type of story you can’t stop reading. It’s the kind of story that breaks your heart and makes you smile at the same time. I truly believe that every student should be forced to read this book. Every fifteen-year-old should pick up a copy and (hopefully) relate to it enough to let it impact their life.
We’re all unlikely superheroes, we’re all powerful enough to save ourselves.
We’re all free to speak — talking about how we feel and what we’re going through is the only way to get through the hard stuff.
Read this book.
Let it fix you.