Chick is a popular fourteen-year-old who is essentially on this earth to live up to his father’s impossible expectations—or, at least, that’s how he feels. This pressure is a grinding source of anxiety for him, which he copes with by making lists. He itemizes every aspect of his life, from his daily routine to the things that make him nervous. But as the pressure of school and his budding romance with his debating teammate Audrey builds, his compulsion starts to feel impossible to control—or conceal.
A teen's mechanism for relieving stress sets him apart in this thoughtful entry in the Orca Currents line, written at a second-grade reading level. Most kids at school know 14-year-old Chick as smart, funny, and popular. What they don't see is his paralyzing anxiety, especially when he's facing his father's high expectations. Chick copes by making lists reams and reams of them, which he locks in a desk drawer. Van Tol realistically depicts a down-to-earth protagonist and a family on the verge of change as Chick diagnoses himself with OCD. Chick's lighthearted, supportive relationship with his girlfriend, along with his father's emotional shifts, bring positive elements to this satisfying story. Ages 10 14.