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Lexapros and Cons

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Overview

Chuck Taylor’s OCD has rendered him a high school outcast. His endless routines and habitual hand washing threaten to scare away both his closest friend and the amazing new girl in town. Sure he happens to share the name of the icon behind the coolest sneakers in the world, but even Chuck knows his bizarre system of wearing different color “Cons” depending on his mood is completely crazy.
            In this hilariously...

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Lexapros and Cons

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Overview

Chuck Taylor’s OCD has rendered him a high school outcast. His endless routines and habitual hand washing threaten to scare away both his closest friend and the amazing new girl in town. Sure he happens to share the name of the icon behind the coolest sneakers in the world, but even Chuck knows his bizarre system of wearing different color “Cons” depending on his mood is completely crazy.
            In this hilariously candid debut novel from comedian Aaron Karo—who grew up with a few obsessions and compulsions of his own—very bad things are going to happen to Chuck. But maybe that’s a good thing. Because with graduation looming, Chuck finds himself with one last chance to face his inner demons, defend his best friend, and win over the girl of his dreams. No matter what happens, though, he’ll have to get his hands dirty.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Adult author Karo’s (I’m Having More Fun Than You) background as a comedian is evident in his bawdy yet affecting YA debut, about a 17-year-old boy with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Chuck’s rituals include hand-washing and using the color of his Converse high tops as a “little threat level advisory code of my emotions.” His parents push him to see a psychiatrist, but when his doctor prescribes Lexapro, Chuck refuses to take it. He also swears never to tell his crush, Amy, about his OCD, but has to revaluate his choices. Karo offers a solid primer to OCD, including its treatments. Readers may find the book ends too neatly, but Chuck is a funny, honest narrator (his biggest pet peeve: people who claim to “have a little OCD,” which “makes it seems like I’m a drama queen or something. I spent close to two hours last night getting in and out of bed to check the fucking stove and then go pee. That’s the real deal”). Readers will be impressed with Chuck’s bravery in working to solve his problems. Ages 14–up. Agent: Peter McGuigan, Foundry Literary + Media. (Apr.)
From the Publisher

“A madcap coming-of-age first novel . . . Chuck’s agreeably foul-mouthed narrative voice rings totally true: Everything from his laugh-out-loud repartee with Steve to his inner longing and lusting for Amy feels fully fleshed and real. Short chapters and clever pacing help Karo’s plot move quickly. Karo is definitely an author to watch.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Adult author Karo’s background as a comedian is evident in his bawdy yet affecting YA debut, about a 17-year-old boy with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Karo offers a solid primer to OCD, including its treatments . . . Chuck is a funny, honest narrator. Readers will be impressed with Chuck’s bravery in working to solve his problems.” —Publishers Weekly

“The way Chuck describes the people he meets, situations he finds himself in, and strange thoughts he has will leave you in stitches! You'll love it if you're looking for a book that will make you laugh out loud. Chuck’s one-liners and odd behaviors will make you completely appreciate Aaron Karo's ability to shed a humorous light on a serious issue.” —Seventeen

“Aaron Karo, who is best known for his stand-up comedy and for his “Ruminations” series of humorous columns, takes a light-hearted approach to his debut YA novel. Chuck’s first-person narration, not to mention his banter with best friend Steve, is hilariously raunchy, and the situations in which he finds himself are sometimes outright absurd. But as funny as Karo’s writing is, his approach to dealing with an anxiety disorder like OCD is actually pretty serious. Karo talks about OCD candidly and accurately, and Chuck’s psychiatrist leads him through the various options for dealing with his disorder. Even if kids reading Lexapros and Cons don’t suffer from Chuck’s condition, they're likely to relate to his feelings of frustration about not being able to engage with the world in the way he’d like to. Chuck’s story can illustrate how to cope with these disorders with hope, heart, and hilarity.”    —TeenReads.com

“Karo’s . . . novel has some interesting high notes: Chuck’s changing relationship with his psychiatrist and the prescription drug she suggests, his romantic dreams sparked—and befuddled—by the beautiful new girl at school, and the well-rendered emotional lives of his friends and enemies. Karo’s use of “real guy” motifs is noteworthy; one of Chuck’s obsessions is making a pencil tally on paper every time he masturbates, and he invents a shoe color code to reflect his moods (the shoes, of course, being Converse Chuck Taylors) . . . Offers a humorous hook for guys who would normally shy away from the romance angle.” —Booklist

“The strength here is the easygoing relationship between Chuck and his nerdy best friends, portrayed in honest, credible dialogue that effectively conveys their affectionate closeness. Readers with OCD may find inspiration here to get help . . . and readers without the disorder will develop a greater level of understanding.”  —Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

 

“High school senior Chuck Taylor becomes likable early on. With its satisfying conclusion, the book is suitable for secondary school and public libraries; its absurdities and age-appropriate expletives may appeal to reluctant male readers.” —Voice of Youth Advocates

“Karo captures the frustration of someone with OCD and its impact on friends and family . . . Characters such as the bumbling psychiatrist and obnoxious bully provide some targets for humor. The author’s success in making Chuck’s character ‘bizarre and profane,’ plus his celebrity status and previous books for adults, will generate interest in the title.” —School Library Journal

 

Children's Literature - Annie Laura Smith
How does a teen with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) stop being an outcast and fit in with his peers? Chuck Taylor faces this challenge as he tries to stop his compulsive tendencies. Although his name is the same as the icon of the coolest shoes in the world (Chucks or Cons), this recognition does little to help Chuck's problem. His bizarre system of wearing different color "Cons" adds to his classmates' view of him as weird. He does not relate well to his psychiatrist, does not take his medication, and finds that she provides little help for his problem. And for heaven's sake, she wears sneakers! The title has significance since Lexapro is an approved antidepressant drug for safe and effective treatment for MDD (Major Depressive Disorder) in adults and adolescents (ages twelve to seventeen). Chuck must face his inner demons, and stop his repetitive behavior to win back his best friend, and hopefully get favorable attention from the new girl in town. Although OCD is a serious problem, Karo provides humorous insight into Chuck's plight as the story progresses. This book is not recommended for younger readers, especially since the first chapter opens with the statement, "The past year, I masturbated exactly 573 times...." Reviewer: Annie Laura Smith
VOYA - Cynthia Winfield
As difficult as it is to like a narrator who opens with, "[i]n the past year, I masturbated exactly 573 times...an average of 11 times a week and 1.57 per day," high school senior Chuck Taylor becomes likable early on. A social outcast with two friends—a buddy forever tormented by a school bully and a "scrawny Indian kid" who "talks like a rapper"—Chuck suffers with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). A standard counter-and-checker, Chuck hand-washes habitually, must twirl the lock on his locker exactly fourteen times, and checks the family's electric stove to make sure all burners are off and no gas is leaking. Although aware of the absurdity fueling his behaviors, Chuck resists when his parents pack him off to a shrink—a pear-shaped Indian child and adolescent psychiatrist who wears sneakers and concludes her statements and questions alike, with an upward inflection implying a question. Karo's stock characters interact predictably as readers vicariously experience Chuck's senior year. The psychiatrist pushes medication (Lexapro) as a precursor to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Chuck resists, until a thoroughly humiliating incident convinces him to change and he gradually improves until the climax allows him to brave a muddy campground and handle a dog. Cursory mentions of pornography—photographs and "Skinemax" flicks—and visions of busty classmates' bouncing bosoms fuel Chuck's masturbation without becoming explicit. With its satisfying conclusion, the book is suitable for secondary school and public libraries; its absurdities and age-appropriate expletives may appeal to reluctant male readers. Reviewer: Cynthia Winfield
Kirkus Reviews
Senior goofball Chuck Taylor has struggled with obsessive-compulsive disorder all his life, and his crush on the new girl in school pushes him to deal with it. Finally. When Amy Huntington walks into his calculus class, Chuck's jaw drops in pure teenage-boy lust. When she asks him to tutor him for her calculus AP exam, he knows something's up. Add his hilarious BFF Steve, who pines after Chuck's bitchy younger sister, a couple of douchey school bullies and a psychiatrist who speaks using only questions, and Karo has all the beginnings of a madcap coming-of-age first novel. For the most part Chuck's agreeably foul-mouthed narrative voice rings totally true: Everything from his laugh-out-loud repartee with Steve to his inner longing and lusting for Amy feels fully fleshed and real. There are moments when he seems too observant or too full of wisdom for his own good, but those times are few and far between. Short chapters and clever pacing help Karo's plot move quickly. Strangely enough, the only piece of this debut that feels forced is Chuck's OCD. While his instincts and reactions to triggers seem authentic, at times the descriptions of his illness feel like they're coming more from a textbook than a teenage boy. Still, Karo is definitely an author to watch. (Fiction. 14 & up)
School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up—Chuck Taylor recounts the trials and triumphs of his last semester in high school. He has concerned parents and a popular but annoying sophomore sister, Beth. He also has OCD. In addition to predictable manifestations, such as frequent hand washing and fear of touching doorknobs, Chuck meticulously tallies how many times he masturbates. He owns an extensive collection of shoes that sport his name and decides which pair of Cons to wear each day by matching color to mood. When transfer student Amy asks him for help studying for the calculus AP exam, he decides to follow his psychiatrist's advice to implement cognitive behavior therapy techniques and take Lexapro. His improvement ends abruptly after disastrous incidents alienate him from both Amy and his only friend, Steve. Determined to overcome OCD on his own, he braves dirt and germs on the Senior Weekend camping trip. Using ideas from a porn flick, plus Wii boxing techniques, Steve and Chuck defeat the bully who has tormented Steve all year. Chuck finds Amy's missing dog, and Beth decides that Steve might be worth dating. Karo captures the frustration of someone with OCD and its impact on friends and family. Stock characters such as the bumbling psychiatrist and obnoxious bully provide some targets for humor. The author's success in making Chuck's character "bizarre and profane," plus his celebrity status and previous books for adults, will generate interest in the title. However, under the relentlessly raunchy language lies a fairly conventional story with all the plotlines converging in an unrealistically tidy ending. There's not much to recommend on its value as a novel.—Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University, Mankato
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374343965
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 4/10/2012
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 536,404
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: HL620L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.76 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

In 1997 Aaron Karo wrote a funny email from his freshman dorm room that eventually spawned his celebrated column Ruminations, the humor website Ruminations.com, and three books: Ruminations on College Life, Ruminations on Twentysomething Life, and I’m Having More Fun Than You. Also a nationally headlining comedian, Karo has performed on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and his one-hour special Aaron Karo: The Rest Is History premiered on Comedy Central in 2010. Lexapros and Cons is his first novel.

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Read an Excerpt

Lexapros and Cons


By Aaron Karo

Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

Copyright © 2012 Aaron Karo
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780374343965

I
 

In the past year, I masturbated exactly 468 times. That’s an average of 9 times a week and 1.28 per day. I’m not sure what impresses me more, though—the fact that I jerk off so much, or the fact that I actually kept a running tally for an entire year. But I did. On a growing stack of Post-its in the drawer of my nightstand. Jerk off, make a note of it, go to sleep, routine.
The thing is, routines make up a huge part of my life. Okay, well, maybe “routines” isn’t the right word. I know the right word now, but for a while I didn’t. Basically what happened was that on January 1st of last year, I jerked off. For some unknown, unexplainable reason, I thought to myself, I wonder how many times I do this in a year? Of course, the proper thought process for a typical, red-blooded teenager would be, I should get a girlfriend, that way I won’t have to jerk off so much. But for whatever reason that’s not the first thought that popped into my head.
My problem wasn’t January 1st, though, it was January 2nd, when I jerked off again, and then made a note of it. Once I start doing something, no matter how idiotic, I can’t stop. It’s all I can think about. I tried to halt the tally in mid-March but then I couldn’t sleep in that post-wank, pre-checkmark state, thinking, Why not just keep the list going? You’ve made it so far! Then I would make the tally, feel better, and then get up to pee. I also pee a lot.
The weird thing about all my “routines” is that I’m acutely aware of how crazy they are. It’s not normal to get up to pee fifteen times before going to bed. I know I just peed, there could not possibly be any more urine in my bladder. I’m not gonna piss the bed; everything will be fine. But then I start to think about it until I can’t help jumping out of bed and going to the bathroom. It’s like if you start thinking about swallowing or breathing or blinking. Then that becomes the only thing you can think about. But eventually you forget. That’s like me and peeing, except I never forget and it happens every single night. So I pee a lot.
I’ve got a few other bad “habits.” The stove—well, the stove is a fucking nightmare. If I don’t check the burner thingies, I’m convinced the house is gonna burn down with me, my sister, and my parents inside. When the stove is on, a little light goes on to alert you. But what if the light breaks? There are four burner thingies; you could theoretically walk past the stove and not realize that one of the knobs wasn’t set to Off. Then, let’s say a dish towel fell off the refrigerator handle (which is all the way across the kitchen, but let’s just say), it landed on the burner, caught fire, and the entire Taylor family died in a horrible burner-thingy accident. I’m consumed by this thought. So I check the burners and the knobs by hand. Over and over. Several times a day. My parents barely even use the stove. I masturbate more than they cook.
The thing that really got me, though, was the hand washing. That’s when I started to think, Man, maybe you have a problem. If my hands are dirty, I absolutely have to wash them. But my definition of dirty and your definition of dirty are probably very different. You probably wash your hands after you eat chicken wings or take a shit. I must wash my hands after touching animals, small children, public mailboxes, elevator buttons, money (especially coins), other people’s hands, all food (plus salt, pepper, and condiments), and anything I consider “natural” (grass, dirt, wood, etc.). I wash my hands a lot. Sometimes it’s the only thing I can think about.
Like I said, the hand washing is what first got me. If you Google “I keep track of how often I masturbate,” you’re not gonna get a lot of hits. Well, you’ll get a boatload of hits—just not anything relevant or appropriate to be displayed in a high school computer lab. But if you Google “I can’t stop washing my hands,” it’s a whole different story. Most of the results will point to one thing. What I do are not “routines.” They’re compulsions. You know when you read something and you’re just like, Fuck, that’s me! Well once I read this thing, I knew I had it.
My name is Chuck. I’m seventeen years old. And according to Wikipedia, I have OCD.

 
Text copyright © 2012 by Aaron Karo


Continues...

Excerpted from Lexapros and Cons by Aaron Karo Copyright © 2012 by Aaron Karo. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 2, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Living with OCD

    I was very interested in reading this book for several reasons. The biggest is that the protag has OCD. This is something that runs in my family, something that I've dealt with up close and have borderline issues with personally. I was very surprised to find that Karo nailed the disorder in every part of my knowledge. Chuck is a teenage boy with OCD and he acts just the way any normal guy would act only different. He just has his special ticks. Karo has given him an amazing personality..full of spunk and attitude. I can honestly say that at several points through the book I thought this is totally my brother (when he was younger). Chuck has the greatest best friend and of course there is a girl. I read L&C in one sitting and during the entire time I had a smile on my face and would laugh out loud to no one but myself. There is so much heart and honesty written into the story line that you can't help but to keep reading and find out what happens. I am incredibly pleased that I was able to read a copy of this novel and extremely happy that someone has taken steps to write about how someone like Chuck goes through life on a day-by-day with the struggles of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. There are some language and sexual situations that may make some folks uncomfortable however, I think it fit in just right with most average teen boys.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2012

    Karo in long form, worth it!

    Been reading Karo's newsletter for a dozen years, and his first novel was pleasantly surprising. The story was entertaining and Chuck is a lovable character trying to cope with his teenage awkwardness and issues. I did not know what to expect but had the thought "he nailed that topic" on several occasions. Insightful and witty, looking forward to seeing more of these.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 30, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Funny & Original

    Book Review (ARC) by Kole
    This was a refreshing book after reading so many sci-fi’s and fantasies. It’s a nice plausible story. The characters are unique and very lifelike and they story is funny and original. Although the story is a little easy to predict it still provides a good time while reading it. The characters make you feel like you can relate to them and they show their emotions very clearly. I’m wondering if it’s planned to continue on in a series. If so, I’d definitely read them! Book Rating: 4/5

    Book Review (ARC) by Jessica
    I agree with Kole that this was a nice departure. Neither of us read very much contemporary YA fiction and we should because there are some great ones out there. First off I loved the name of the book. The play on the medication name with the Converse sneakers that are worn by the main character worked wonderfully, especially as the main character Chuck is trying to figure out his life with it's ups and downs. The characters in the story are so complete I felt like I'd known them forever. Chuck could walk right off the page and into my life and I'd accept him just how he is because he feels real. Seeing a character that doesn't have it all figured out, but isn't clueless about the world around him is refreshing. Too often main characters seem as if they have no idea that they are the most gorgeous person on the face of the Earth, but Chuck is well aware of what's good about him and what he needs to work on. That awareness makes him human, realistic, and intriguing.

    While the story was a bit predictable (again it's a contemporary novel, there isn't some supernatural creature that's going to swoop in and change the world in a moment's notice), it was still charming. I found myself trying to say some of the lines out loud, over and over again, to hear what they would sound like. OK, that might sound strange, but there is a character that sounds like they are asking a question every time they speak, so I was trying to mimic it and it entertained me...and those around me hopefully. Some of the bits made me feel a little weird with the fact that Kole and I were both reading this story (mostly the masturbation count and the talk of breasts). Seeing as how I'm Kole's mom I didn't even want to go there. Either way it was entertaining! Book Rating: 3/5

    Kole & Jessica review on the blog Book Sake.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 2, 2012

    Loved it, but don't get thrown off by the first chapter just kee

    Loved it, but don't get thrown off by the first chapter just keep reading.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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