I really didn't know what I was getting into when I started reading this but, wow, COMPULSION is awesome...and exhausting!
Today has to be perfect. Magic.
I look at the clock. 10:14 am.
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 getting 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, Kasey, 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 it doesn’t work? What if the numbers never go away?
Awesome because you're right in Jake's head. You go through his OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) with him. Every scene opens with how he's mentally processing numbers. And living inside his head is also why it's exhausting.
Ayarbe writes with incredible authenticity. Jake's stream of consciousness would make anyone crazy, yet for the most part, on the surface he comes across pretty normal. I felt so sympathetic toward Jake. He is doing his best to struggle through this but he's so isolated! I just wanted to scream, "Someone help him!"
His mom has the same issues which puts a huge burden on the family. His dad won't acknowledge any problems and keeps pushing Jake to be his best at soccer, as if that will solve all their problems. Unfortunately, Jake thinks the same thing, so everything hinges on this soccer championship. I couldn't hate his dad or mom. They're all just doing the best they can. And his best friend, Luc, doesn't know what to do with it. He's got his own problems.
I loved Mera, Jake's friend. She was the only one willing to at least acknowledge there was something amiss and offer to listen.
COMPULSION is Jake's courageous story, and an amazing insight into OCD. I was sooooo invested in his well-being. And in the end, Ayarbe literally had me holding my breath until the very last line.
You'll probably need a few breaks while reading this, just to relieve the tension Jake's OCD creates. And be aware the swearing is on the high end of the scale. But I found COMPULSION an enthralling and powerful read.
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