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“At once humorous and poignant, frustrating and sympathethic, this will leave readers wondering if they could be a little obsessive-compulsive themselves.”

Frances Bradburn, Booklist

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“…a novel that may have bibliotherapeutic potential.”

School Library Journal

Not As Crazy As I Seem

Devon Brown is a lot neater than most 15-year-old boys. He lines up his sneakers under his bed. He hangs up his shirts by colors and buttons them from top to bottom. Germs bother him so much that he washes his hands dozens of times a day. To ward off bad luck, he does things in fours. Where do his compulsions come from? That’s what his parents and shrink would like to know. Some people say he’s crazy, but Devon thinks he’d be just fine if everyone just left him alone and stopped trying to fix him. Besides, the last thing in the world he would want to be is normal.

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“Hello, Devon. I’m Dr. Wasserman.”

The big black-bearded shrink jabs his hand at me. His fingers look huge, like thick pink sausages.

“I just washed, Doc.” I shake my hands in the air so he’ll get the idea. “I’m still kind of wet.”

“That’s very thoughtful of you. Have a seat wherever you like.”

He sweeps his hand across the room like there are a million choices. I see two–a black vinyl chair with a small rip in the cushion, and a white couch with a few brown spots on the arm. You’d think a doctor charging $100 an hour could afford better furniture.

“Is something the matter?”

“I like standing. It’s good for you.”

“I suppose it is. So you want to stand right there?”

Not here exactly. Not here at all. I’d rather be standing almost anywhere else in the whole universe. I back up a few steps. “Here, I think.”

“Okay, well, I understand that you’re fifteen years old, and your family recently moved to town from the western part of the state–Amherst, right?”

“Not Amherst really. More like Greater Amherst, you know, like how they say Greater Boston?”

“Yes, I have heard that. And you’ve been in therapy before.”

“Oh yeah, for five months and six days.”

“Did you find it helpful?”

That depends on what therapy is supposed to do for me, doesn’t it? Make me normal like other people? I don’t want to be like any other person I’ve ever met, especially the normal ones. Normal is boring. Normal seems like going through life half-asleep, never really seeing things. But that’s not what a shrink wants to hear. “Maybe.”

He lifts up a folder stuffed with papers. “Your last doctor sent me your file. Apparently he didn’t have time to complete his analysis before your family moved here. For now we can use `generalized anxiety’ as the catchall phrase to describe your symptoms.”

The anxiety doesn’t feel very generalized to me. I’m not anxious about everything. I’m not anxious about most things, in fact, if you count every little thing there is in the world. It’s just some things, at certain times, in some places that scare me out of my skin.

From the forthcoming novel, I’m Not As Crazy As I Seem. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company.

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