Review: The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B
by Teresa Toten

Two-time Governor General's Award nominee Teresa Toten is back with a compulsively readable new book for teens!

When Adam meets Robyn at a support group for kids coping with obsessive-compulsive disorder, he is drawn to her almost before he can take a breath. He's determined to protect and defend her--to play Batman to her Robyn--whatever the cost. But when you're fourteen and the everyday problems of dealing with divorced parents and step-siblings are supplemented by the challenges of OCD, it's hard to imagine yourself falling in love. How can you have a "normal" relationship when your life is so fraught with problems? And that's not even to mention the small matter of those threatening letters Adam's mother has started to receive . . .
Teresa Toten sets some tough and topical issues against the backdrop of a traditional whodunit in this engaging new novel that readers will find hard to put down.

(cover image and summary lifted from Goodreads)

Series: Standalone
Publisher: Walker Books
Publication date: March 2015 (first published August 27th 2013)
Source/Format: Paperback/Giveaway won from Fay of Bibliophile Soprano (THANKS!)
Purchase links: Book Depository | Amazon
My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts:
Adam Spencer Ross is a fourteen-year old who believes certain numbers are bad, taps his foot or fingers in certain patterns, and perfectly stacks his Thor comics in order of issue. He has a bad case of OCD and is trying to learn to control it with other kids with the same problem in a support group. He does not take these meetings seriously until one fateful day when Robyn Plummer stepped into the room. Then suddenly, Adam wanted to be a hero. He felt the need to become better in order to save Robyn. He was a boy who has never had a goal before but because of Robyn, he became a man with written goals. 

I picked this book up randomly and before I knew it, I was past halfway through it. It was surprisingly a very engaging and light read for a book dealing with a tough issue (mental disorder/anxiety/OCD). I expected myself to be gloomy under a dark cloud while reading but really I was like this most of the time:

Lots of times the book is cute, swoony and funny. Adam’s observations and thought process are funny. Him falling in love instantly with Robin is funny in a cute way. Him having to perform a ritual before entering doors is funny in a sad way.

I liked this book big time so right after I finished reading, I literally shoved it to my sister because I have to know someone else’s thought of it. Well, it took ages for her to finish (I’m a slow reader and she is way slower) but I am happy to report that she also liked it. I asked her what her favorite parts were and she said she specially liked the romance between Adam and Robyn. Me on the other hand greatly liked the friendship aspect of Adam both with the support group peeps and with Ben Stones, his childhood friend. I love that Adam was both open to make new friends with the people in support group and at the same time he gets to keep his friendship with Stones intact, despite his illness. We both agree that Adam’s little half-brother, Sweetie, is such an adorable addition to Adam’s life. Basically, we just want to wrap these characters in a big burrito and smoosh them all with hugs!
"Everybody lies.Well, hell, maybe everybody has damn good reasons to lie. Maybe we all just lie to hide the hurt or to fake being strong until we can be strong. That's not so bad is it? Is it?"

This is a story of a boy’s struggles of having to grow up, of making new friends and keeping old ones, of dealing with first love, of living with lies and of facing family troubles. Basically, Adam Spencer Ross is a typical teenage boy, except that he is not, because of his OCD. I commend the author for a well-researched work. I think this is a great representation of what teenage mental illness is about. Most of the time their lives are as regular as the next teenager, except when they have to deal with their monsters inside. Read this book if you're in search for a quick YA read with a little something of everything: fluff, family, friendship, faith and heroics.


  1. Lovely pics! I love your blog:)

  2. Firstly: your header is SO GORGEOUS I cannot. I've just arrived and I can already tell your blog is lovely.

    I've heard a lot about 13B, but, well, I've just never been sure. Because the subject matter is one I'm fascinated by and think needs to be read a lot more, but then as you say it's cute and I don't like cute books much. Sooooo.

    Thanks for dropping by The Devil Orders Takeout!

    1. Thanks for your kind words re: this humble blog. I'm still a newbie so it's nice to hear good things from pro peeps. I surmised as much that you might not want cute stuff since your blog name is The Devil Orders Takeout and all?! Nevertheless, I still like you and your blog. :)

  3. Books dealing with mental illness are often difficult to read AND write, so I'm happy to hear this read was well-researched, well-executed, and well-received. I have yet to read a book specifically about OCD, so I'm interested in picking this one up. :) Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Jennilyn!

    Julia Anne @ Peach Print

    1. Agreed, books with mental illness needs thorough research so as not to misrepresent the people suffering from it. I hope you got to read this title soon.

  4. Oh yay, I am so glad you liked this one! I have heard some great things, and I actually bought it a couple months ago but hadn't had the chance to read it yet- hopefully soon though! I love that it deals with LIFE as well as OCD- sometimes it's just the mental health side, but I love when it incorporates everyday life too. And the characters sound fabulous! I am definitely going to be bumping this up on my TBR, great review :)
    Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight

    1. ACKKK, you are one of my blogger idols, Shannon! I am freaking out with the fact that you commented here! I'm following your Shattering Stigmas posts. God bless your soul for opening up and tackling such a relevant issue in your blog.

      I'm glad you already have a copy of this book. I can hardly wait to see your thoughts about it.

  5. Oh this book sounds interesting! I haven't read a lot of books with OCD and those where a character had OCD it felt unrealistic. This book sounds like it handles the topic well, without having it be too gloomy. That's certainly a good thing in my opinion. Great review!

    1. Aww, it's sad that the books you've read with OCD felt unrealistic. This is my first OCD-related book so I would not really know any titles to compare it to. But I've read that the author did a long research like meeting people with OCD, asking advice from mental health experts, and attending mental health conventions and I felt that her research paid-off with how masterful this book is.

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