Author: Lauren Roedy Vaughn
Published: March 21, 2013
Seventeen-year-old Danielle Levine is your typical high school teen-ager - if you count havingOCD and ADHD as typical.
Danielle's "special" conditions lead her to a school for students with learning disabilities, and, even here, she struggles to fit in.
How Danielle navigates her status as a "learning-challenged" teen pariah is told, with equal parts pain and hilarity, in Lauren Roedy Vaughn's debut Young Adult novel, OCD, THE DUDE, AND ME, which Kirkus Review has hailed as a "must-read."
Told through a mélange of Danielle's class assignments, journal entries, emails, texts, and letters to the school psychiatrist, OCD, THE DUDE, AND ME chronicles Danielle's efforts to fit into a world that, to her, can be as alien as a distant planet. Yet, Danielle will be recognizable to her readers, with her body-image issues, her crush on an unattainable boy, and her feelings of insecurity over the rigid social code of high school life.
Just as things seemingly couldn't get worse for her, Danielle meets a new friend, Daniel, who turns her on to the Coen Brothers' classic cult film THE BIG LEBOWSKI and its indelible main character, the ever-cool, ever abiding Dude. Daniel and Danielle end up going to the prom together and to Lebowski Fest, an annual event celebrating the Dudeand his Buddha-like philosophy, which says that things will work out if you "abide."
Vaughn is especially equipped to write Danielle's story. She has been a special education teacher and a writer for nearly 20 years. She understands that each student with a learning challenge has a unique profile that requires specialized intervention strategies. Danielle benefits from the guidance of charismatic adults to learn how to socialize and accept herself. She is also able to leverage her affinities-reading and writing-in order to shift her perspective and grow.
Vaughn's students "live with the stigma" of being called "lazy" and "different," Vaughn explains. "It is my love for them, my understanding of their diversity that compelled me to write a fictionalized account of one of them and their world. I wanted them to see their value within the context of a story."
The major reason for the presence of THE BIG LEBOWSKI and theDude, Vaughn says, is that the Dude is "an iconic character who lived through a dramatic situation and kept abiding. He is a model for dealing with life's difficult situations. There are other 'dudes' in my story who also affect Danielle."
Vaughn herself says she is a "huge fan" of THE BIG LEBOWSKI. "When I was asking the story Gods to help me come up with what could help Danielle, that film popped into my mind. When Danielle witnesses the film, she realizes that life is unpredictable and often ridiculous ... abiding is a saner choice."
What critics are saying:
Publisher's Weekly: Pick of the Week
Kirkus Review: "A must-read." (Starred review)
Star Library Journal: "This one is sure to find an appreciative audience." (Starred review)
Seventeen magazine online: "The book's fun format of traditional long-form, texts, letters, and emails make this book easy and fun to read."
OCD, The Dude, and Me
Publisher: Dial Books, March 21, 2013
234 pages, ISBN-13: 978-0803738430, Amazon Kindle edition, ISBN: 0803738439
About the Author:
Lauren Roedy Vaughn is an award-winning educator who has spent nearly 20 years teaching English to high school students with language-based learning disabilities. She lives with her husband in Los Angeles.
You can visit her website at www.laurenroedyvaughn.com.
I wasn't really sure what to expect when I started OCD, The Dude, and Me but I honestly wasn't expecting to like it as much as I did. Written as a series of Essay's, journal entries, emails and letters OCD, The Dude, and Me chronicles Danielle's life through out her senior year. Danielle doesn't see herself as other people see her. She sees a fat, messed up "freak". She often wonders if her parents are sorry they adopted her thinking that they couldn't have possibly bargained for a daughter with so many problems.
During Danielle's senior life she grows by leaps and bounds. She finds love, the real kind. Makes surprising new friends. Realizes a talent that she wasn't aware of and finally starts healing from a tragedy in her past.
In the beginning of reading OCD, The Dude, and Me I was having a bit of trouble connecting with Danielle. Once I started figuring her out a little I really got into this story and have already started recommending it to my daughters and will definitely be telling others I know to give this one a try as well. Reading this makes me want to watch The Big Lebowski again, read more Shakespeare and Rumi, and once again start a journal and fill my fridge with my favorite quotes. A wonderful Young Adult read!
One of my favorite saying from the book, though I actually have many.
"Little things, little things, are much more important than big things. Big things hit you in the face with their bigness and obscure the little, more important things that really define a life and provide it with delicacy.
I don't usually reread book but I can see myself reading this one again and again.