Don’t Touch is a quiet book in the world of YA. I didn’t hear a lot about it before asking for it for my birthday, but I’m pretty sure my interest in it was piqued largely thanks to Kayla. It focuses on Caddie, whose parents have recently separated and is subsequently dealing with extreme anxiety, which is fed by a rule or mantra she has created for herself: don’t touch. Caddie feels that if she touches someone, or them her, skin to skin, she will be responsible for her parents’ divorce. As someone has never experienced anything like this, it was interesting to get inside her mind see her thought process.
The book felt very genuine, from Caddie’s anxiety to her friendships and her experience as a new student at a performing arts high school (in Birmingham, Alabama! Bonus points for the Southern setting!). She reconnects with her old friend Mandy, but for me, the highlight was definitely her friendship with Peter, who she adores, but a potential relationship between them is very much complicated by don’t touch. (Bonus points for Peter being such a nice guy! I loved it!)
Part of the plot involves Caddie playing Ophelia in her school’s production in Hamlet, and I promise you I read this book in high school, but all I remember is, “To be or not to be,” and not liking it at all. Talk of the play in the book almost made me want to revisit it and see if I could appreciate it more this time around. But the key word is almost, because in the end I decided I was fine without ever reading it again.
This book felt like a 4.5 star book most of the time; I was really enjoying it but it wasn’t quite 5-star read for me, but the ending almost lowered my rating to a 4. I don’t want to say too much to spoil it, but one aspect doesn’t really wrap up at all, but that felt realistic and appropriate for the story. The other aspect I think wrapped up a little too nicely. I understood that she had struggled a ton already, but it seemed some things happened a little too quickly, but I have no expertise on the matter, so maybe it could be that way. Also, the ending didn’t really drag after the climax, but I feel like there was maybe a little more to it than necessary. I would have preferred something a little more open-ended.
Overall, I would definitely recommend it for a realistic look at mental illness, interesting friendship dynamics, and a sweet romance.
Content advisory: Some mild to moderate language. Some talk of sex, nothing real descriptive.
Have you read Don’t Touch? What are your thoughts? What was a book that, for you, did a good job of portraying mental illness?