Zelah Green - Vanessa Curtis

Title: Zelah Green

Author: Vanessa Curtis

Publisher: Egmont

Release Date: 2009

Category: Young Adult

Source: Bought in Waterstones

Paperback: 246 pages

Summary from Goodreads
My Name is Zelah Green and I'm a cleanaholic. I spend most of my life running away from germs, dirt, and people. And I'm just about doing ok and then my stepmother packs me off to some kind of hospital to live with a load of strangers. It's stuck in the middle of nowhere. Great. There's Alice who's anorexic. Caro who cuts herself. Silent Sol who has the cutest smile. And then there's me. 


Zelah Green suffers from OCD and can't stand to be in the vicinity of dirt and germs. Her routines in the morning are well organised. She washes her left hand thirty-one times, then her right hand thirty-one times, all sorts of other things, then she has to jump more than a hundred times on the first step of the stairs. She has to sit on a paper in a public space, she doesn't touch things unless she is doing so with a tissue. 
Contrary to what you may think in your head right now, she is doing fine. She even has a friend who helps her out with her routines. People might think that she is not okay and that she needs serious professional help, but Zelah thinks she is doing fine. Her father disappears one day, and she is left alone with her stepmother she despises (and the feeling is mutual). Her stepmother decides to send her to the hospital because she can't cope with her "little problem". 

Zelah is an amazing character to read about. Vanessa Curtis created a very original and clear voice. It was a truly fascinated journey to spend in Zelah's head. Aside from her OCD, she is a regular teenager and I loved her personality. I especially liked the fact that she puts different earrings to match her moods.
When she goes in a special institution to "treat" her OCD, Zelah meets different teenagers with issues just like herself. There is an anorexic girl, one who takes too many pills, another who cuts and then a very cute boy who doesn't speak. All these characters had very interesting personalities as well. I found that the way their issues were presented was very sensitive and not judgmental or glossed over.
It was also great to get to see how all of them interacted with each other and created their own terms of their relationships and helped each other out in ways that no adult or doctors ever could. I really liked Caro and Lib, they were both very funny characters.

Zelah's family story is unveiled throughout the book and it was heart-breaking to see Zelah lose her childhood illusions over their family. It mustn't have been easy for her every day, but  she really was trying her best.
The "treatment" Zelah receives is very original but respectful of what she would feel inside. There were some very funny moments to read!

The book is a short sweet read that will leave you wanting to know more about Zelah and her new friends. A must-read if you want to understand what goes on in the head of someone suffering from OCD. I can't wait to read the second book Zelah Green, One More Little Problem!


  1. This sounds like a good read, I don't read much contemporary fiction but I might pick up this one. Great review :)

  2. I keep hearing good things about this one that I really must pick it up! Thanks for the review :)

  3. I really liked this book too. Zelah was a great character and felt so real! :) Great review.

  4. This sounds fantastic and definitely one I'm going to pick up soon. Thanks for the great review!

  5. I love the sound of this. I was expecting something more light-hearted and quirky from the cover, but it sounds like there's a lot of substance and reality here. Great review, Caroline.

  6. Thank you for your comments!
    You girls should definitely give it a try!

    @Lauren: it is definitely light-hearted and quirky in appearance but there are some deep issues treated in it, so it's definitely worth a try!

  7. I tried to leave you a comment yesterday but for some reason the library doesnt like comment boxes :( I keep picking this one up and then not getting around to reading it. Will definately make an effort ot now. Thanks

  8. What a lovely review. I have a copy of this and I will certainly get to it at some point. Really interesting to see mental health being explored in YA.