The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten
If I could be a superhero, I would choose Storm from X-Men because I would love to be able to influence the weather. Adam, the protagonist in Teresa Toten’s The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B, faces this superhero choice in his young adult OCD support group. Ultimately deciding on Batman in an attempt to connect with the girl who chose Robin, Adam decides that he will do whatever it takes to save this girl he is so drawn to. He makes plans to be her superhero, but throughout this touching book about trying to be normal when everything around you isn’t, Adam discovers that Robyn Plummer might not be the one in need of saving. As I read this book, I found myself laughing out loud on one page to then getting choked up on the next. Teresa Toten really takes her readers on a rollercoaster of emotions as Adam navigates his OCD, new relationships, friendships, living with divorced parents, and finding the strength to ask for help. I found that as I read, there were several songs that kept popping into my head and connected with characters or actions.
The theme song from Rocky is the perfect track for every time the characters climb the stairs to support group. Not only are they making their way up numerous flights which I would argue is as physically exerting as Rocky’s efforts to climb the steps leading to the art museum in Philly, but the climb also symbolizes their struggle with their OCD manifestations. Each time the characters are able to make it up those stairs, Adam feels like they are taking steps (literal and figurative!) toward managing their OCD. Next, each time Robyn and Adam walk through the graveyard and stop at her mother’s grave, I heard The Fray’s “How to Save a Life.” Robyn is working through her mother’s death, as well as the decisions and lies she made/told. Adam is desperately trying to be everything to Robyn and “save” her so this song is really fitting for those interactions. I especially think the lines about “smiling politely” are fitting because both characters start out as really apprehensive toward one another and striving to seem “normal” to each other. Another song that fits in with Adam’s story is “Come Away with Me” by Norah Jones. I picture this song anytime Adam is in his mother’s house. First, I think all the “come away with me” lines fit in with how Adam’s stepmother feels about Adam being in his mother’s house. She wants him to move in with them because she thinks it will be better for him. Second, as the reader, I want Adam out of there! His mother is trying, and clearly loves Adam, but the environment in that home is not good for him as he works to manage his OCD.