The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B
Life is not going so smoothly for Adam Spencer Ross. First and foremost, he has OCD --- his life revolves around counting and ordering until everything in his mind feels “just right,” and he must perform a particular set of rituals before going through certain doors. To help deal with his OCD, Adam must attend one-on-one therapy and a young adult OCD support group, where Adam is certain he is the least crazy of all of them. Unfortunately, his home life isn’t going so well either. His parents are divorced and to cope with it, his mom has become a hoarder. His mom has also been receiving some disturbing anonymous letters that Adam must keep a secret. Adam’s four-year-old half-brother, Sweetie, loves him unconditionally but is troubled in his own way. As if this isn’t enough, Adam begins one of the biggest challenges of his life --- falling in love.
Adam first meets the self-proclaimed love of his life, Robyn Plummer, somewhere completely unexpected: his OCD support group. The fact that Robyn has her own set of problems doesn’t bother Adam; in fact, he makes it his mission to get better so that he can save her. However, making himself better isn’t going as fast as he had planned. His mom is receiving more and more anonymous letters and their messages are becoming even more disturbing. Adam’s stress over the letters begins to make his OCD even worse, and soon he can barely enter his own home. Plus, when another guy from the support group starts to go for Robyn, all hope seems to be lost for Adam. But with help from some unlikely allies, Adam might be able to get the girl and become the hero after all.
The surprising and emotional ending of the novel makes THE UNLIKELY HERO OF ROOM 13B a book that readers will never forget.
THE UNLIKELY HERO OF ROOM 13B will have readers invested from the very first page. It’s a quick read, mostly because it’s so hard for readers to put down. The plot is interesting and unique; at first I thought it would be more like IT’S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY by Ned Vizzini, but it ended up going in its own direction, which I appreciated. Teresa Toten’s approach to mental illness is both tactful and full of understanding --- rather than demeaning Adam and his support group friends, she gives readers an insightful glimpse into the struggles that they face. Toten also does a great job of mixing humorous and serious moments, making the novel feel realistic and relatable. The surprising and emotional ending of the novel makes THE UNLIKELY HERO OF ROOM 13B a book that readers will never forget.
The characters are another strong point of THE UNLIKELY HERO OF ROOM 13B. Adam is definitely a lovable character and one that readers will be cheering on. His story is an uplifting one; he’s no less of a hero because of his OCD or his familial problems. The other characters are just as enjoyable. Sweetie is a great addition because he pulls out a side of Adam that the audience wouldn’t see otherwise. There are some characters that I would have liked to have seen more of, though. While Robyn was a good character, I wish she had been developed a little more fully. The novel focused mostly on Adam’s journey through his OCD, and it would have been interesting to see more of hers. However, near the end of the story, she did show some more development as a character, which was good. I also wish I could have learned more about some of the other members of the OCD support group, especially Thor. As Thor begins to have a greater role at the end of the novel, it would have been fun to know more of his background, too. In the end, though, Toten does an excellent job of exploring a wide range of characters and mental illnesses.
Reviewed by Cheyenne C., Teen Board Member on March 10, 2015