Saturday, 29 January 2011

Review: Zelah Green by Vanessa Curtis

Zelah Green by Vanessa Curtis

Series: Zelah Green series
Genre: Contemporary
Age Group:Young Adult
Publisher: Hardie Grant Egmont
Release Date: 4th Jan 2011
Format: Paperback
ISBN-13: 9781405255059
RRP: $16.95 AUD
Source: Thank you to the publisher, who provided this book for an honest review,all opinions expressed are my own.
Cover love? Stark and streamlined, but meaningful. The pink labels it as YA. (NB. See what I did? I made some text in this review the exact same colour!)

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.


Throughout Zelah Green, Vanessa Curtis thoughtfully paints a story focusing on the effects of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in teenagers. My only knowledge of OCD stems from reading Xenocide and Speaker for the Dead (#3 and #4 in the Ender Saga) by Orson Scott Card, and was not surprised to find that the symptoms were similar, and that OCD is a serious ailment that severely affects the victim’s lifestyle. Zelah Green describes herself as a “cleanaholic” who is always on “dirt alert” and “germ alert”; she performs daily cleaning rituals that often cause her hands to become red and raw.

I admire the research and accuracy with which Vanessa Curtis tells this story. The way Zelah avoids the scientific term for her problem, the backstory that explains how Zelah developed her condition, and the warm depiction of Zelah’s emotions and reactions.The gradual unveiling of Zelah’s life to the reader also makes it a journey of sorts, as we begin to understand what Zelah’s family situation is like.

Vanessa Curtis must also be commended for her excellent creation of characters. Each character is unique, and I can list the dozen or so of them off by heart, even weeks after reading it.
I’m not giving this novel five stars because it’s not as impacting as it could have been. It’s more lighthearted than serious, and I prefer serious, adventurous reads that bring out emotion, because that’s when I know a story has really connected with me. The story is not extraordinary, but it’s not evocative either, hence my rating.

I loved watching the growth in Zelah throughout this short read, as she changes from an unwilling patient at the rehabilitation centre, to a girl ready to charge of her own life and make a change for the better. It’s not a depressing, self-help novel, rather a light, funny and warm novel about a girl courageously facing up to her condition, and learning to do the right thing. It’s a perfect read for all teenagers.


Zelah Green at Hardie Grant | Vanessa Cutis' Website | Goodreads