(Also, Ophelia is a character in one of Shakespeare's play. She is played by Caddie in her school's play. I have never read or seen the play, but from some fast checking on Wikipedia, I know a little bit about HAMLET. Think of this paragraph as a disclaimer.)
First of all, Caddie is an amazing character. She struggles with her obsession to never touch a person's skin. After father's abandonment, Caddie's anxiety disorder has gotten worse and worse. She extremely dislikes her condition, and whenever she tries to get over it, the obsession bounces back and hits it where it hurts. Reading about Caddie's amazing and internal struggle is difficult at times, but Caddie's bravery and determination strikes a chord in me.
Second of all, DON'T TOUCH has a wonderful cast of characters. Each of them are cool in their own way. Peter, especially, is amazing. Each character is understanding once they learn of Caddie's problems, and they help her deal with it. The supporting cast is brilliantly written and remains stunningly positive for Caddie's determination to overcome her anxieties.
The romance between Caddie and Peter is exhilarating to read about. Caddie refuses to touch Peter, even though she wants to. Peter wishes to touch her, but he respects Caddie's wishes. It is a strange romance, like watching two oppositely charged magnets trying to get close to each other. But they can't meet, because there is a barrier. Despite the lack of physical actions, the romance is beautiful and the connection blows me away.
The plot is well-defined, and each part of the book is paced perfectly. I can't help but read the book (and annoy my friends because I refuse to take eyes off of it) until the very end. The ending is highly satisfying, and Caddie's journey doesn't reach her end. No, she is at the beginning, which is filled with a lot of hope for the future.
Overall, DON'T TOUCH is an awesome YA Contemporary novel with a touch of William Shakespeare. It has an unique narrator whose internal struggles will empathize with readers. DON'T TOUCH is best for those who love watching a character overcome her fears.
Rating: Four out of Five
The concept of this book really intrigued me but also made me nervous. Would it be handled sensitively? Would it be pushed aside for romance? Would it have a lasting effect? Once I started, my fears disappeared. It was clear the author knew how to handle the subject of OCD, it wouldn’t be treated as some plot device.
It was impossible not to feel for Caddie. She was this smart, mature, determined young woman who was very aware that the “games” she played and her fear of touch were not common and likely didn’t matter in the end, but there was always that what if in her head. What if she did touch someone then something bad happened? It would be her fault for breaking her rules. Her anxiety any time someone came close to a touch was suffocating. It made my chest hurt. There were many times she could have told someone about Don’t Touch to explain why she would jerk away from a friend or react unfavorably to a surprise touch – even through clothes, but telling was a huge risk and I understood why she wouldn’t take it. Telling could have meant losing her friends, telling could have meant breaking a rule, telling could have meant someone not taking it seriously. I also loved that we saw Caddie make some progress then take a few steps back and all the signs that it wasn’t something that would just go away forever and never come back. I really appreciated the fact that while it was obvious to the reader that Caddie had OCD, it wasn’t the only thing about her that was focused on. She had friends, she had school, she had a family, she had dreams, she had a life.
Friendships were a huge part of the story. In particular, Caddie and Mandy, who were reconnecting after Mandy switched schools a few years earlier and now they were both at the same school again. Mandy was so sweet and supportive but also had her own issues to work through. Mandy’s group of friends welcomed Caddie easily and she fit in really well. Livia and Hank were hilarious, especially together, Oscar took some time to grow on me but he was a good job – just a bit oblivious, Mandy’s boyfriend Drew could be sweet but his anger was also a little scary. Then there was Peter, sweet Peter. The dynamic between him and Caddie was brilliant. I could go from smiling at their banter to panic that he was too close and might touch her in a second.
Throughout the plot, the group of friends were auditioning and then rehearsing for Hamlet. The audition scenes, rehearsals, backstage drama, the play were all part of the book and it was a lot of fun to read.
This was a book that will definitely stick with me and I’m definitely adding this author to my watch list.