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The Goldfish Boy ISBN: 9781407170992
Thompson, Lisa
Published by Scholastic, 2017
Matthew has a serious case of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and as he is 12 years old, his condition is making his life a nightmare. Rarely leaving his room and spending most of his time looking out of upstairs windows at the front and back of his house, he observes everything that is going on and records it all in a book. Cleanliness is everything to Matt, and he not only constantly washes his hands and takes showers, but he also disinfects everything in his room. No one is allowed in, not even his parents, and the cat is completely disbarred. His parents are horrified at this turn of events, which has got much worse recently, and they don't understand why. Matthew knows only too well why it is happening, but he isn't about to tell anyone. Because he watches everything going on in the neighbourhood, he tends to be disliked by the neighbours, who think he is seriously weird, and, of course, school has become out of the question. His ex friend Jake, who has eczema and is often bullied by school friends who can't cope with his skin problems, has started bullying Matt too, and has become very unpleasant. The neighbourhood is a cul de sac, and all the people living in it become characters in the mystery that evolves when 15 month old Teddy disappears from the garden next door. It is Matt with his observational talents who begins to see a pattern in what has happened, and he and friend Melody (who insists on being Matt's friend in spite of his not wishing it) finally come up with some answers. His parents don't agree about how to handle him, mum giving into his whims, and dad just wanting to make him be more normal. Neither understands that he is suffering a severe disability. We finally discover what the real reason is for Matt's peculiar behaviour, and this is due to an excellent therapist, who really understands Matt's problem and is willing to work with him on it. There are no easy answers, and it will take time, but by the end of the book, we are beginning to see a different Matt - and Jake and he are at least partly reconciled too. This is a long novel, but a great read with lots going on. Matthew is lovable, and his eccentricities somehow make him even more so, and the painful condition of OCD could not be made more plain.
Age: 10+