Release date: 5th July 2010
Genre: Realism / Issues /YA
Target audience: 12+
UK Publisher: Egmont
Warm, winning and real, Zelah Green is back! My name is Zelah Green and I'm aCleanaholic. It's the summer hols and I'm on major Flirt Alert. I've joined mysortaspace.com and ever since I've been getting emails from loads of boys. Boys are Dirt Alert AND Germ Alert. Don't even talk to me about kissing...The rest of my life's a bit rubbish too. That's because: my dad is moping about the house missing hisgirlfriend; my ex-best friend still isn't speaking to me; my grumpy weirdo Satanist friend has turned up to stay; my cleaning rituals are taking up way too much time; and, most importantly, the guy I really like, Sol, has disappeared off the face of the earth.
This is the sequel to Zelah Green and you can read my review of the first book about Zelah HERE.
Zelah Green is a girl with OCD. She is a cleanaholic, but she has had therapy, so she is doing better, which she is happy to report at the beginning of the novel. She still has issues with germs and dirt, and she can't hug her own father because hugs scream major Germ Alert in Zelah's world. However, she has reduced her obsessive rituals considerably and is even thinking about starting dating and patching things up with her former best friend Fran.
But things soon become difficult for Zelah. Her father's girlfriend goes on a holiday, which leaves Zelah's dad moping around the house all miserable, causing a lot of worries and stress for Zelah. Suddenly, troubles begin to round in on Zelah from all corners. Caro, a "friend" from the institution for troubled teens where Zelah spent some time in the first book, comes knocking on her door, asking for a place to stay. Caro tends to cut herself and listen to loud metal music, as well as producing a lot of dirt, which freaks out Zelah. Then, boys actually begin to ask her out, which is way more serious than just thinking about it. Dad is hiding something, Fran comes back into her life and then, there is the boy, Sol, that Zelah loves, but will probably never see again. All the stress propels Zelah back into the dangerous labyrinth of her old obsessive habits.
I truly loved the first book and I was happy to read about Zelah again. She is a troubled teenager who only wishes to be normal. She wants to be able to hug her dad and kiss a boy she likes, which she cannot do because of her OCD. She yearns to be accepted by her friends, or at least her two friends that she has in her life, but this goal is pretty elusive. She is confronted with too much responsibilities and that does not help her in the slightest. Zelah is definitely a very sympathetic heroine. It is hard not to like her. Zelah's story is enjoyable. It is sad and painful at times, as Zelah has to overcome several obstacles.
The focus of the novel is also on Caro. Zelah's strange friend Caro is a seriously troubled girl who believes no one understands her, which prompts her to engage in violent fits of rage and she even cuts herself, as this is her way of coping with issues, just as Zelah's is to obsess over germs and dirt. These troubled teens are not only a figment of one author's imagination; such teen sexist and Curtis handles the problematic really well, pointing to the problems, as well as to the fact that they always stem from a serious matter that has to be handled properly. Such teenagers (and people in general) use such extreme ways to ask for help, because they don't see another way to say they need it because they are in psychological pain. The theme of the Zelah Green novels isdefinitely very enlightening and intriguing.
Zelah's voice is very entertaining and it also has the ability to touch the reader. Zelah is a great heroine and I loved to return to her story and to the story of her family and friends through her eyes. Her ups and downs kept me turning the pages.
My only problem (which was not such a big issue for me in the first novel) is the pacing of the story, which is too fast. Especially the finale, which features a few very important and powerful events, rushed by, making those events almost random, something they most certainly are not. I wish a few pages had been added and the pacing more tame, so that I could better savour certain moments.
However, those who loved the first novel will certainly enjoy Zelah Green: One More Little Problem. Zelah's story is one you will not forget.
Becky says: Great review Irena. You obviously really enjoy reading about Zelah’s life and how she overcomes her problems. I think perhaps as an adult reader you prefer a slower pace but that perhaps teens love to feel like they are speeding through the book. What do you think?
Both our thanks go to Egmont Books for sending the book review.