Andrea Kayne Kaufman
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Grant Place Press (November 17, 2011)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Buying Link: Oxford Messed Up
Rhodes Scholar Gloria Zimmerman has come to Oxford University to study feminist poetry. Yet the rigors of academia pale in comparison to her untreated Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, fueled by her overachieving parents and manifested in a deathly aversion to germs and human contact. Her next-door neighbor (who is also, to her mortification, her loomate) is Henry Young, the appealing but underachieving English music student. Still mourning the death of his supportive mother while enduring the mockery of his disapproving and merciless father, Henry is haunted by the unexpectedly serious ramifications of a reckless and tragic youth. Gloria and Henry's relationship evolves from a shared obsession with Van Morrison's music into a desire to fill the gaps in each other’s lives. Yet the constraints of a debilitating illness and the looming revelation of a catastrophic secret conspire to throw their worlds into upheaval and threaten the possibilities of their unlikely yet redemptive love.
Oxford Messed Up is the first work of Andrea Kayne Kaufman I've ever read. I can honestly say that it's a great experience I would definitely want to do again. Oxford Messed Up is a refreshing read for me because it's very different from my usual reads. It's about real life that some real people goes through. It's an eye opener for some of us who have very different views about the realities of some people who have OCD.
The main focus of the book are Gloria and Henry. They are both messed up and flawed which made them very real to me. Gloria is a graduate student who suffers from severe OCD of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder while Henry her 'loomate' is messed up guy who has so many issues in life that lead him to being an ex-addict, ex-alcoholic with a sickness he would have to carry for life. They are both interesting in a way that you knew, as a reader that there are a lot of Glorias and Henrys in this world. Ms. Andrea Kayne Kaufman gives us a first class trip inside their lives and their heads. She let us see how there are messed up people in this world and that they need our help and understanding. We shouldn't ostracized these people.
Gloria and Henry's romance is such a sweet thing to read. I really adored reading their journey together. When they met, they were both not in a place to be romantically involved. They both know that the life they live is not normal and being together romantically would be unhealthy for so many reasons. And so they became friends. Although, the attraction was there, they didn't act on it. Their romance was a process. It progressed little by little. I really appreciate how Ms. Kaufman made the relationship as real as it could get. She didn't make Henry and Gloria magically good together. It was gradual but real and I really liked it!
I also liked the side stories of the other characters. Ms. Kaufman gave these side stories of the other characters without ruining the main plot. It was there for a reason. It helped me as a reader see the bigger picture of the main plot. It was done excellently.
Now, the only thing I didn't liked in this book is the first part. It was so slow. I was so thankful that I didn't give up on reading it because this is really a good book. The first part was the introduction of Gloria and Henry, they haven't even met yet. I understand what the author was trying to do. She wants us to know more about Henry and Gloria and what lead them to where they were before they met each other but I found all of it completely unnecessary. I think the author could have made it a little shorter than that.
Overall, I absolutely recommend this book to those who love music especially Van Morrison and poetry. The whole book has a reference of Music and Poetry which I absolutely appreciate. I recommend this book to those who loves a good and sweet romance that has that depth which makes you believe that you could always CHOOSE happiness despite all the sad and bad things that happens in life.
Oxford Messed Up is not just your typical romance read. It tackles real life. It points out the things we chose to ignore in our society. This book is one great read you wouldn't want to miss if you're looking for something real.
Kudos to Ms. Andrea Kayne Kaufman for having the courage to write a book that has the ability to enlighten its readers. We all have that power to help people with OCD if we only we will it.
About the Author:
Andrea Kayne Kaufman has guided and mentored hundreds of students as a professor at the DePaul University College of Education, where she serves as Chair of the Department of Leadership, Language and Curriculum. A professor and attorney who earned a bachelor's degree from Vassar College, a master's degree in Education from Harvard University and her Juris Doctor from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Andrea has students who are primarily teachers, seeking masters and doctoral degrees in Educational Leadership to serve as principals and superintendents.
Andrea is an award-winning expert in the area of school law, and has published and spoken widely about special education law, education civil rights, the No Child Left Behind Act, cyber bullying, and other legal and political issues having an impact on students and schools.
In her personal and professional life, Andrea has been involved with issues relating to special needs, in particular Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Her debut novel, "Oxford Messed Up," is a literary love story that transports readers on a redemptive and emotional journey, where the academic world of Oxford University serves as a backdrop for true learning, self-discovery, and transcendent love. Andrea's professional expertise and personal experience have given her the vision to create a novel hailed by experts as one of the first to present the inner workings and treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder accurately, from the inside out.
Andrea is currently working on her next novel, "Parent Over Shoulder." In this poignant love story, Andrea brings her education background, sensitivity, insight and articulate writing style to another "hell" found in many school communities - cyber-bullying.
Andrea draws inspiration for her writing and life from poetry, Van Morrison's music and other classic vinyl, her daily walks along Lake Michigan, and her time spent with her husband and two children in their equanimity-filled Chicago home.
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