The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson
Summary from Goodreads:
Matthew Corbin suffers from severe obsessive-compulsive disorder. He hasn’t been to school in weeks. His hands are cracked and bleeding from cleaning. He refuses to leave his bedroom. To pass the time, he observes his neighbors from his bedroom window, making mundane notes about their habits as they bustle about the cul-de-sac.
When a toddler staying next door goes missing, it becomes apparent that Matthew was the last person to see him alive. Suddenly, Matthew finds himself at the center of a high-stakes mystery, and every one of his neighbors is a suspect. Matthew is the key to figuring out what happened and potentially saving a child’s life… but is he able to do so if it means exposing his own secrets, and stepping out from the safety of his home?
This was a wonderful read and an awesome debut novel! I so enjoyed it once I got into it finally. The mystery is a page turner and keeps you guessing as to who took poor Teddy. I really enjoyed spying on the neighbors along with Matthew, they were an interesting lot and there was always something going on.
Matthew is an interesting main character and we see everything from his point of view. The author’s depiction of his OCD was pretty accurate, (I have a nephew who has it), and it was interesting to see his thoughts around his anxieties and why he feels the need to clean and stay away from others. But he still needs to connect to people, which is why he watches the neighbors through the two upstairs windows in his house. He also keeps detailed notes of their activities which are shared throughout the book. The way he goes about solving the mystery was great, using other kids as his eyes and ears when he didn’t feel like he could leave his house. He does leave it at times, but the author makes it work with the need to help solve Teddy’s disappearance overwhelming his OCD anxieties.
His friend Melody, was a nice balance to Matthew. While she was chatty and overly friendly she meant well. She also has her own issues and secrets, but she truly wants to help Matthew and be his friend, even when he acts ‘weird’. The other kid in the neighborhood, Jake, is often a bully to both Melody and Matthew, but in the end he also helps out and maybe will become a good friend to them eventually. It should be noted that Jake has health issues as well, with allergies and eczema, that have caused him to be bullied by others.
All in all a really well rounded book for the middle grades. Lots of diverse characters and a page turning mystery. The ending is a little too uplifting and simple. I know from experience that OCD doesn’t simply go away once you admit to it and discuss the underlying cause of it. Although Matthew does start on his journey of coping with OCD, it sounds a little bit like he will be cured by the end of the book.