Monday, October 17, 2011

Compulsion by Heidi Ayarbe

The numbers have been good, so lately life has been pretty good. If Jake Martin can keep things together and win a soccer title for his high school, he can forget about them. But for now, the prime numbers are the only thing keeping him on an even keel.

In Heidi Ayarbe's Compulsion (Compuls1on on the cover), Jake has been barely keeping up with school and especially struggles with showing up on time. With a teacher looking to make an example of a jock, Jake can't be late or he will be ineligible for the championship.

Ayarbe delves into compulsiveness and how it can rule every part of someone's life. Readers are given unique insight into his thoughts as Jake constantly checks on the time and other numbers and how they make him feel. With only his sister as a confidant, Jake is convinced that after he gets his trophy and graduates that he can forget about prime numbers and his reliance on them.

This is an interesting novel and teens interested in mental health and compulsiveness will appreciate its fairly blunt portrayal. Jake is a strongly drawn character and readers will be rooting for him in the midst of his struggles and unhealthy relationships.

Dropping into Jake’s thoughts is interesting at first but it can make parts of the novel difficult to slog through. The point is to really get readers to understand what Jake is going through, though it can be tedious and a bit overwhelming.

I usually give recommendations of similar books, but I am somewhat stumped on this one because of its uniqueness. My best idea is sports books about overcoming obstacles and the emotions affects that goes into the craft like Robert Lipsyte's Center Field.

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