August 30, 2014
Review: Don't Touch
Don't Touch by Rachel M. Wilson
Release date: September 2, 2014
This ARC was provided by On the Same Page's ARC tours and the author. Since it was provided by the author, On the Same Page requested that we review the book.
Summary: Step on a crack, break your mother's back,
Touch another person's skin, and Dad's gone for good . . .
Caddie has a history of magical thinking—of playing games in her head to cope with her surroundings—but it's never been this bad before.
When her parents split up, Don't touch becomes Caddie's mantra. Maybe if she keeps from touching another person's skin, Dad will come home. She knows it doesn't make sense, but her games have never been logical. Soon, despite Alabama's humidity, she's covering every inch of her skin and wearing evening gloves to school.
And that's where things get tricky. Even though Caddie's the new girl, it's hard to pass off her compulsions as artistic quirks. Friends notice things. Her drama class is all about interacting with her scene partners, especially Peter, who's auditioning for the role of Hamlet. Caddie desperately wants to play Ophelia, but if she does, she'll have to touch Peter . . . and kiss him. Part of Caddie would love nothing more than to kiss Peter—but the other part isn't sure she's brave enough to let herself fall.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: The main thing that drew me to this book was the mention of Hamlet in the synopsis. It makes me ridiculously happy that Caddie has a bit of a soft spot for Ophelia and that she desperately wants to play her. The school's performance of Hamlet is a recurring subplot throughout the entire book. The Kenneth Branagh adaptation was mentioned, which may have made me flail a bit. The book was divided into acts, which seemed a bit unnecessary to me, but hey, each act began with a quote from Hamlet, so I can't complain too much. I also really enjoyed Caddie comparing herself to Ophelia. Because, just like Ophelia, she feels like she's drowning.
Don't Touch was amazing in such a quiet way. Issue books are difficult, and this one gets it very right. Things wrapped up a bit too quickly and easily perhaps, but I can overlook that in the grand scheme of things. I didn't cry at all, but I was very invested in the story and the characters. I read the book in less than 24 hours. There were painful parts, but that just makes the narrative and characters all the more realistic. Real life isn't comfortable. The prose was fairly straightforward but still very enjoyable. There was a pivotal line early on that said, "He's at home in his skin." (quote taken from page 21 of my ARC) To someone like Caddie, I can see how striking that would be. She's not comfortable with who she is entirely, and she's scared to have her skin touch others or to be touched.
The characters, oh my goodness. It's very easy to compare them to characters in a play. Each one has a role, and some are more minor than others. I would've liked to see more of Caddie's brother, Jordan, and more interactions between Livia and Caddie. But Mandy turned out to be a great friend (and very realistic), and the only character I thoroughly detested was Oscar. I'm pretty sure he's supposed to be polarizing, though. Something that's important to note is that you may feel a teeny bit disconnected from Caddie and her narrative (it's in first person so we know all of her thoughts and what-not, but there's still a bit of disconnection). I found that the disconnection was minimal, though, since her emotions and thoughts are so very raw and real, and I felt them, too. I enjoyed feeling somewhat disconnected from the protagonist, actually. In a book like this, it works. It was like Caddie was keeping me at arm's length, to keep me from touching her.
At times I was invested in the romance and other times, I wasn't. I didn't feel any particular swoons for Peter, but I still think he was pretty cool. He did a great job as Hamlet. I liked that, when Caddie said she wanted to get to know him better before they let their relationship become more than friends, he was genuinely okay with it. There's a moment where she freaks out when he touches her, and his reaction was great. He was apologetic and (humanly) freaked out and just wanted to help.
Language is fairly mild (I think I remember maybe a few uses of the s-word, but they're scattered), and romance is pretty clean with a few innuendos. Also, there is a little underage drinking. Suicide is discussed (mostly about Ophelia), and Caddie has a form of OCD, so those might be trigger warnings for some.
The Verdict: So good. So so so so good. Don't Touch was everything I hoped it would be and more. Get thee to a bookstore and buy it! (Well, preorder it at this point.)