I look at the clock.
Ten fourteen. One plus one is two plus four is six plus ten is sixteen minus one is fifteen minus two is thirteen. OK.
I turn from the clock and walk into the hallway. "Ready."
Saturday will be the third state soccer championship in a row for Jake Martin. Three. A good number. Prime. With Jake on the field, Carson City High can't lose because Jake has the magic: a self-created protection generated by his obsession with prime numbers. It's the magic that has every top soccer university recruiting Jake, the magic that keeps his family safe, and the magic that suppresses his anxiety attacks. But the magic is Jake's prison, because sustaining it means his compulsions take over nearly every aspect of his life.
Jake's convinced the magic will be permanent after Saturday, the perfect day, when every prime has converged. Once the game is over, he won't have to rely on his sister to concoct excuses for his odd rituals. His dad will stop treating him like he is some freak. Maybe he'll even make a friend other than Luc.
But what if the magic doesn't stay?
What if the numbers never leave?
Acclaimed author Heidi Ayarbe has created an honest and riveting portrait of a teen struggling with obsessive compulsive disorder in this breathtaking and courageous novel.
But the numbers are also Jake's prison. If he's off by just one number, his world crumbles. But once his team wins the third state soccer championship, he swears he won't need the numbers. Or will he? After the final soccer game, he worries what will happen once he doesn't have to rely on the numbers. Who will look out for his kid sister Kasey? Also what about his mother, who has secrets of her own. Jake finds that even though prime numbers help him, he also wants a way out.
This is one very powerful, realistic tale of a teen who deals with OCD. I love how the author shows how Jake uses prime numbers to create his own type of magic. She does this in such a haunting way.
Here's an example:
Seven forty-one. Seven plus four is eleven plus one is twelve divided by four is three. OK.
There's one scene where Jake is sitting with his friends and girlfriend at In and Out hamburger place. His girlfriend is nibbling on his fries. There's four left. Jake starts sweating, breaking down and ends up yelling at her to just eat a fry. She's confused at his reaction but once there are three fries, which is prime number, Jake's fine.
For Jake if anything is off by just one number, his anxiety grows to the point that he has to go back and restart his day.
I also love how Jake's not the only one dealing with OCD in his family. His mother has a fear of hitting and killing a bicyclist. This fear is so bad she has Jake retrack her path to make sure no one has been hurt. In the meantime his father 'ignores' that both son and mother might need some serious help which is very realistic in situations like this. I know as my own family for decades 'ignored' my father's mental illness. It's safer that way.
I totally love how Jake goes from worrying about what others think of his problem to what he decides to do at the very end.
When I finished, I closed the book and said, "Wow." When an author can convey the emotions and struggles of a character in such a powerful way, well, you know you have a winning tale. COMPULSION will not disappoint. Another big plus is this tale is through the eyes of a boy. The language, dialogue, and pacing is very realistic and stays true without falling back on cliches and stereotypes.
A must read that I highly recommend!