Puzzled A memoir of growing up with OCD

Pan Cooke

Book - 2024

"Pan Cooke is ten years old when anxious thoughts begin to take over his brain like pieces of an impossible puzzle. What if he blurts out a swear word while in church? What if he accidentally writes something mean in his classmate's get-well card? What if his friend's racy photo of a supermodel ends up in his own homework and is discovered by his teacher? More and more, he becomes hijacked by fears that can only be calmed through exhausting, time-consuming rituals. Pan has no way of knowing that this anxiety puzzle and the stressful attempts to solve it are evidence of a condition called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. This is his story of living with and eventually learning about OCD. Told with endearing honesty and humor, Pu...zzled shows the reader the importance of empathy for oneself and those going through something they don't yet understand."--Amazon.com.

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2nd Floor New Shelf 616.85227/Cooke (NEW SHELF) Due Jun 29, 2024
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Review by Booklist Review

At the age of 10, Cooke began experiencing anxious thoughts. One moment his mind could be on track, and the next it could be uncontrollably fixated on a certain thought or idea, regardless of how logical or illogical it might be. Ritualistic things like praying before bed and brushing his teeth started to become all-night affairs. He struggled with his thoughts in church, where he feared he would blurt out curse words because his mind was so fixated on the thought that he might. These obsessions followed Pan to school, where they began interfering with his productivity in class and ultimately his best friendship. After a handful of internet searches, he learns about obsessive compulsive disorder; it's a term he's heard before but has never associated with himself. Could this term help lead to a better understanding of himself? Cooke's memoir follows the formative years of his life as he navigates his thoughts and seeks to better understand the puzzle in his head. It is a thoughtful, genuine story with illuminating insight into the mind of a young person living with OCD. Visual metaphors nicely encapsulate his experience of the disorder, and a coda about finally seeking cognitive behavioral therapy to help manage his OCD will be particularly useful for readers who recognize themselves in his story.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Irish cartoonist Cooke's debut graphic novel memoir neatly articulates his childhood and teenage experience managing persistent anxious thoughts that he deems "the Puzzle," which he later learns is undiagnosed obsessive compulsive disorder. The novel's clean, unadorned art style enhances the persuasive verbal and visual jigsaw metaphor, which clearly evidences the creator's lonely hardship as his numerous attempts to solve the unrelenting Puzzle fail. At first, 10-year-old Cooke, who attends Catholic school, engages in an extensive bedtime prayer routine, only tucking himself in once his Hail Marys feel just right. At 12, intrusive thoughts insist he must run up the stairs or risk his family dying horrifically. When, at 14, he begins counting calories, the compulsion soon results in an anorexia and hypochondria diagnosis that eventually leads him to uncovering a "piece that fits": a description of OCD. In a closing chapter, Cooke shares his first experience attending therapy, provides a digestible introduction to OCD's multiple forms and symptoms, and dispels common myths about the disorder, explaining that people who like cleaning and organizing are not a "little OCD" because "no one with OCD enjoys what it makes them do." An afterword concludes. Ages 10--14. (Apr.)

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Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 6--8--A vulnerable account of trying to fit in, finding your place in the world, and the experience of being a regular teen while living with chronic intrusive thoughts. The vivid graphic representations of these intrusive thoughts in the main character Pan's mind tangibly illustrate the struggles that they face, while the supporting text demonstrates how they operate outwardly in the public sphere. Pan's thoughts, set in a blue-gray palette, become known as the Puzzle, which they try to solve through different regimens that seemingly overtake them. In contrast, Pan's public life is shown in brighter, more vibrant shades. In such an authentic representation, the content surrounding OCD may be triggering to some readers; however, the author gives a realistic and frank perspective to symptoms and signs of the disorder, while also dispelling the myths and stereotypes that are often associated with it. Puzzled includes other heavy topics, such as mental health, peer pressure, eating disorders, bullying, anxiety, faith, and family. VERDICT A powerful graphic novel memoir that gives readers an authentic account of life with OCD; for collections that include Sunshine by Jarrett J. Krosoczka and A Work in Progress by Jarrett Lerner.--Cat Miserendino

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

An Irish boy navigates coming of age while living with OCD in this graphic memoir. At 10, Pan realized he was different from his friends. While they obsessed over Pokémon cards, Pan, who has light skin and a mop of tousled brown hair, found that he battled intrusive thoughts that kept him awake well into the night. He calls these thoughts "the Puzzle." His efforts to find solutions included repetitive prayers, compulsive counting, and an eventual descent into disordered eating, all while navigating his school career. Pan attends a Catholic school and questions whether he's possessed by the devil, if God is speaking to him, or if he's just plain "crazy." When his symptoms turn physical, he seeks help from myriad specialists. The doctors find nothing physically wrong with him, so he takes to the internet for assistance and stumbles upon his eventual diagnosis of OCD. The cheery colors in many of the panels serve as a stark contrast to the dark thoughts in Pan's head, while the blue-gray panels illustrating Pan's thought spirals emphasize his distress. Pan's striking story handles mental health with care and precision, dispelling myths about OCD and providing readers with the language necessary to discuss its signs and symptoms. Readers will also appreciate the quick yet comprehensive overview of cognitive behavioral therapy treatment toward the end. A harrowing yet ultimately hopeful look at the manifestation of mental illness. (content warning) (Graphic memoir. 10-14) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.