Genre: Young Adult/YA
Author: Lauren Roedy Vaughn
Publisher: Dial Books/Penguin
PURCHASE OCD, THE DUDE & ME AT AMAZON
Seventeen-year-old Danielle Levine is your typical high school teenager – if you count having OCD and ADHD as typical. Danielle’s “special” conditions lead her to a school for students with learning disabilities, and, even here, she struggles to fit in.
How Danielle navigates her status as a “learning-challenged” teen pariah is told, with equal parts pain and hilarity, in Lauren Roedy Vaughn’s debut Young Adult novel, OCD, THE DUDE, AND ME, which Kirkus Review has hailed as a “must-read.”
Told through a mélange of Danielle’s class assignments, journal entries, emails, texts, and letters to the school psychiatrist, OCD, THE DUDE, AND ME chronicles Danielle’s efforts to fit into a world that, to her, can be as alien as a distant planet. Yet, Danielle will be recognizable to her readers, with her body-image issues, her crush on an unattainable boy, and her feelings of insecurity over the rigid social code of high school life.
Just as things seemingly couldn’t get worse for her, Danielle meets a new friend, Daniel, who turns her on to the Coen Brothers’ classic cult film THE BIG LEBOWSKI and its indelible main character, the ever-cool, ever abiding Dude. Daniel and Danielle end up going to the prom together and to Lebowski Fest, an annual event celebrating the Dude and his Buddha-like philosophy, which says that things will work out if you “abide.”
Ms. Vaughn is especially equipped to write Danielle’s story. She has been a special education teacher and a writer for nearly 20 years. In 2005, she received the Walk of Hearts Teaching Award, and she serves on the Board of the International Dyslexia Association’s Los Angeles Branch. She was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, when she was in elementary school. She came to California for college, met her husband at the University of California, Irvine, and they have lived in Southern California ever since. Together, they share a love of The Big Lebowski. When not teaching, reading, or writing, Lauren is usually on a yoga mat.
Her latest book is the contemporary humorous young adult fiction, OCD, the Dude & Me.
You can visit Lauren Roedy Vaughn’s website at www.laurenroedyvaughn.com
Lauren's Guest Post
Getting By With a Little Help
Danielle Levine, the main character of my YA novel,OCD, The Dude, and Me, loves to write, read, and watch movies; she prefers to do those activities rather than go to the social skills class she is forced to attend. As a result of her OCD, Danielle obsessively compiles her senior-year “me-moir binder,” a sacred writing collection she keeps in a locked binder wrapped in a pillowcase and hidden in a box under her bed.While writing is one of her obsessions, it is also a contributor to her empowerment. An obsessive writer and reader, Danielle has an organization system for all the books she reads: they are alphabetized in stacks,categorized by genre on her bedroom floor. Books take her away from the stresses of her life, but they also teach her valuable lessons, which she eventually internalizes.
There are a few movies that Danielle writes about, but the movie that impacts her the most at this point in her life is The Big Lebowski. “The Dude” in the title of the novel refers to several “dudes” in her life, but it is an overt reference to Jeff Bridge’s iconic character from The Big Lebowski.The Dude’s message of abiding resonates with Danielle and provides her with a new strategy for dealing with her life. She had developed elaborate methods of psychological escape, so being present and abiding her circumstances is a radical new perspective.
Who we are at various points in our lives influences which books and movies impact us. Because we are all so diverse, it’s wonderful that our world is filled with a wide variety of art to choose from.Different messages for different times. Danielle’s reflective mind and her support system of family, professionals and new friends help her make an internal shift. It truly takes a village! We all find ourselves in what feel like impossible circumstances, times when we feel hopeless. Help can come from all over the place, but we have to allow whatever support comes our way to soften us so that we may be re-molded into a new form, a new way of being.Uh, not easy. I think this is a constant battle for all of us. Danielle is lucky that she has people in her life who love and support her and that she leverages her affinities to give her life meaning. I hope for such a thing for us all. And, it’s good to remember, when things are tough, when there seems to be no easy way out of certain circumstances, “the Dude abides.”