Thursday, September 4, 2014

Review: Don't Touch by Rachel M. Wilson (Tour Stop)

Don't Touch
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: September 2nd 2014


A powerful story of a girl who is afraid to touch another person’s skin, until the boy auditioning for Hamlet opposite her Ophelia gives her a reason to overcome her fears.

Step on a crack, break your mother’s back. Touch another person’s skin, and Dad’s gone for good.

Caddie can’t stop thinking that if she keeps from touching another person’s skin, her parents might get back together... which is why she wears full-length gloves to school and covers every inch of her skin.

It seems harmless at first, but Caddie’s obsession soon threatens her ambitions as an actress. She desperately wants to play Ophelia in her school’s production of Hamlet. But that would mean touching Peter, who’s auditioning for the title role—and kissing 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.

Perfect for fans of Laurie Halse Anderson, this debut novel from Rachel M. Wilson is a moving story of a talented girl who's fighting an increasingly severe anxiety disorder, and the friends and family who stand by her.


Rachel M. Wilson is the author of the contemporary YA, DON'T TOUCH, forthcoming from HarperTeen, Sep. 2, 2014. 

She graduated from Northwestern University and holds an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Rachel grew up in Birmingham, AL, and she currently writes, acts, and teaches in Chicago, IL.


My Rating


My Review

I can't remember the last time a book affected me as much as Don't Touch did. This isn't the kind of read that is enjoyable for a couple of hours but soon afterward forgotten. No, this novel will stay with you long after your eyes hit that final word. It's a stunningly beautiful contemporary. It made me laugh, cry, and catch my breath, and I could likely read it every day and never lose any of those inspired feelings.  

One thing I really loved about Don't Touch was Caddie's point of view. While reading, it's like getting a glimpse inside of her head. We see her deal with her anxiety and try to fight the real feelings that arise because of it. Seeing her deal with this, as well as needing to separate herself from the high emotional requirement of Ophelia - it was unforgettable. This was one of the few times where I was really able to relate and connect to a character. Of course, I might be a tad bit biased when it comes to this novel, as I am a teenage girl who goes to a school (for half the day, at least) to study acting. So, I have the same passion as she does. Nonetheless, the message can be universal. Whether it be acting like in Caddie's - and my own - case or something completely different, it is so incredibly easy to let our fears and anxiety get in the way of our passions, and ultimately, our happiness. I've done it many times, and it's so easy to hate myself for it. But following Caddie's struggle was inspiring - both to myself as an actor and myself as a human being. 

Don't Touch isn't a romance. But when it does have romantic elements, it's absolutely electrifying. I could feel the connection and attraction between them, and it drove me almost as crazy as Cassie. I can only imagine being in that situation, so willing to close the heated distance with a touch, but the choking fear making it impossible... just thinking about it is insanity. But Peter was an excellent character. One of those "I DEFY YOU, STARS!" for making him be fictional kind of guys. Aside from him, however, the friendships involved in the novel were wonderfully crafted. There were ups and downs, but that's just how it is.

As if all of this weren't already enough, there's the fact that a central point of the plot is a production of Hamlet (fellow Shakespeare fans, rejoice). If that's not enough, there's the gorgeous language, wonderful theme...just about everything else one could ask for...

As an actor, one of the most important things is finding a sense of truth. Being "good" or "bad" is meaningless, as long as you are in the moment and honest. It is what makes theatre one of the most breathtaking and real things in existence. That doesn't make it easy to do. Yet, Wilson manages to keep that exact goal throughout the entire novel. Don't Touch is real. Authentic. Like life, it can be funny and it can be gritty, it can be heartwarming and it can be heartbreaking. Sometimes all at once. Like life, it's something truly beautiful.

I highly recommend Don't Touch, regardless of if you think in iambic pentameter or don't really know what an "act" even is. If it can mean even a fraction to you what it meant to me - it's well worth the read. 


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