Amy M. (Brooklyn, NY)
Oxford Messed Up is a smart, compelling book!
Gloria Zimmerman, who suffers from an extreme case of OCD, and Henry Young, a former drug addict, meet at Oxford University when they discover that their dorm rooms share a bathroom. These brilliant people are drawn to one another, recognizing in each other the loneliness and discomfort they both feel in society. Their bond is strengthened by their shared love of the music of Van Morrison. Henry subscribes to the idea of fatalistic optimism he finds in Van Morrison’s music and believes is the answer to Gloria problems. If Gloria and Henry can overcome their fears of commitment and rejection and accept each others' help, they'll have lifelong support and love while navigating life's obstacles. The question is: Are Gloria and Henry willing to take the risk to trust and be vulnerable to each other?
Karen B. (Bethlehem, PA)
Oxford Messed Up
I work in academia and thought I would enjoy this book. I was not disappointed. I probably come into contact with someone like Gloria or Henry regularly. When I started reading the book, I wanted to shake both of them. I wanted Gloria to get counseling, and Henry to clean up his room and his life. I kept reading, and found that it wasn't that simple. Once their families were introduced, I understood more about them. Gloria's mother trained her daughter well in the rituals of OCD. Henry seemed to be looking for attention. When Gloria found out about her roomate, I thought she would contact someone and have her room changed. That she didn't, indicates that she was very timid, or lonely, or both. The interactions between them and the character development were interesting. I did not figure out Henry's secret until just before the author introduced it. It explained a lot about Henry and why he seemed to give up on life, until he met Gloria. I was amazed that two such dysfunctional families could produce two such wonderful young adults. The book was believable, and kept my interest. I'm looking forward to reading more from this author.
Kendra R. (New Orleans, LA)
Engaging love story
I really enjoyed Gloria and Henry's relationship and how they found hidden strength within themselves. Their shared connections left me wanting to read her dead feminist poets and listen to Van Morrison. I had little prior experience with mental illness, but really found this story engaging and appreciated the insight on OCD it gave me.
Jane R. (Ft. Lauderdale, FL)
Oxford Messed Up
I loved this book. All the characters are messed up, not just the two main ones. But despite being messed up they are characters that you can't help but care about and want to succeed. Being a huge Van Morrison fan myself made connect with the book right from the beginning. I played his CDs while reading the book, which gave me new insight into his music.
Bobbie D. (Boca Raton, FL)
Oxford Messed Up
The book is very well written with a combination of happy and sad moments. Loved Gloria and Henry.
Putting 2 post graduate students at Oxford who each come with terrible baggage and connecting them by the "loo" was very clever. Hard to imagine how one of them was a germophobe with OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) who spent hours cleaning (Gloria) and the other (Henry) was a dirty slob who often didn't change his clothes for days. Bringing them together with the Van Morrison music was such a clever idea. Finding out about Gloria and Henry and their history as the story goes along kept you wanting more and hoping that there was some way they could work out their problems. This book should appeal to everyone. It's different and quite special.
Beth C. (Sioux Falls, SD)
Oxford Messed Up -a Wonderful Story
I loved this book. Andrea Kaufman has done a marvelous job of creating characters with major personality flaws (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and substance abuse) and turned them into people with heart and substance. Gloria, the obsessive Rhodes scholar, is studying the poetry of feminist writers Sylvia Plath and Sara Teasdale, and Henry, ex-addict and scholarly failure, share a bathroom in their graduate student housing. Kaufman lets the reader into Gloria's OCD in a way that is both instructional and humane. Henry's issues also become a source of realistic information.
I especially enjoyed the intellectual aspect of the book as Gloria writes and comments about her women poets and the collaboration she does with Henry regarding the poetry/music of Van Morrison. For me, the book worked on many levels and I was truly pleased with the results.
I would definitely recommend "Oxford Messed Up" to friends and to book groups.
Joan B. (Ellicott City, MD)
OXFORD MESSED UP
i really was fascinated by this book. I wanted to finish the book but not end the story. The writing and word choices held my attention. I checked on Van Morrison with my adult daughter and found that I already loved some of his music. I have a friend who complains of having OCD. Being a skeptic, I thought the symptoms were an exaggeration in her mind. This book certainly portrays the mind numbing trauma the condition can cause. Happily, I could also see that recovery is possible.
Henry and Gloria are people I could like. I was thrilled when they could be happy. I even developed a special fondness for Oliver. I hope my book club will pick this book!