Narrator: Lisa Coleman
Series: Zelah Green #1
Published on January 5th 2009
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My name is Zelah Green and I'm a Cleanaholic.
I spend most of my life on Germ-Alert.
Germ-Alert is for when people forget to wash their hands and then try to touch me, or when they sneeze onto a tissue and throw it at the bin like they're playing netball and then miss, or even worse, try to pass it to me. Germ-Alert also covers cats, dogs, un-flushed toilets, greasy metal poles on tube trains, computer keyboards, and mobile phones without covers on, people spitting, kissing or dribbling, coughing, or doing anything else with their horrid bodily fluids.
When I'm not on Germ-Alert, I'm on Dirt-Alert.
Dirt-Alert is for when people come into the house from the garden with bare feet and tread bits of worm and grass and earth around the house. Dirt-Alert also covers drifting bits of fluff, crumbs, grimy black fingernails, people sweating too much, rancid fat on the cooker, old butter wrappers, smears on plates and windows and layers of dust on windowsills.
Dirt-Alert is not as serious as Germ-Alert but it still takes up a lot of my time.
It's a miracle I ever get to school....
Zelah’s stepmother can’t handle her OCD, so she tries to ship her off to a mental hospital. Zelah ends up in Forest Road House under the care and guidance of a lovely female doctor with some other misfits – an anorexic, a cutter, and a mute. There she learns to face her OCD and her abandonment issues with her father.
Zelah is, from what I can gather, bi-racial. Her father is white and it is hinted her mother is black. Zelah has out of control frizzy curly black hair and needs to wash her hands and face 31 times, and jump over 100 times at the top and bottom of each staircase she uses. She is also a germaphobe and won’t touch anything without the assistance of a tissue. The doctor helps her overcome some of the more powerful ‘rituals’, although she’s not ‘cured’ by the time she leaves the house.
The writing was decent, nothing particularly wrong with it. I enjoyed Zelah’s narrative voice. There was nothing really to stand out about it either. I liked the respectful way the author approached not only Zelah’s mental illness but the other kids at the house as well. I liked how it turned from Zelah having ‘rituals’ to admitting her OCD and trying to get it under control.
I took a while to get through this audiobook. I had to renew it twice. I think it might have been the pacing, because there wasn’t really anything big or exciting happening to make me want to return to the book. It didn’t feel like a chore to end it, and I did want to know how it ended up finishing, but I simply wasn’t in a hurry to get back to listening to it.
I think Zelah Green is a really good novel for a young adult audience looking to explore an ‘issues’ novel about mental illness, specifically OCD. I didn’t enjoy it a huge amount but like I said, there was nothing particularly awesome about it. It was kind of blah, but I think other readers could enjoy it.