Review: The Notations of Cooper Cameron

The Notations of Cooper Cameron
The Notations of Cooper Cameron by Jane O’Reilly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

4.5 stars

This was a wonderful story with exceptional writing. It’s a story about an eleven-year-old boy with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and the affects it has on his family. Cooper decides he wants to cure himself so that his family will be whole again.

I just loved the writing and the story execution. First, I love that his name, Cooper Cameron, is alliterative. This story is written in third person, but at times, the narrative voice sounds how somebody with OCD would think. One of Cooper’s rituals was to read everything in threes. When he read a novel, he would read every word, sentence, and page three times. He thought that if he didn’t, his family would (for example) burst into flames and die. Cooper loved to read Dante’s Inferno and when he read it, he would read it like this:

”We. We. We. In. In. In. Our. Our. Our…We in our turn stepped forward toward the city and through the gate…”

I’ve heard of people having some of his rituals, especially when he needed to count or touch everything. Another common ritual is his excessive organization such as when he organized the pantry at the family’s cabin. I know people with OCD have to complete their rituals before they leave the house, so it can take a long time for them to finish before they leave.

Cooper kept a journal to write down his thoughts and things he wanted to remember. He’s a smart kid! He’d write insightful things such as, ”Sometimes you cannot see things that are crystal clear.” For an eleven-year-old, his thinking is very philosophical.

It was so easy to become completely engaged in this story and Cooper’s life. I just loved Cooper to death! Other than being smart, he was a sweet boy. His frog Amicus was his best friend and he took great care of him. He wanted to make friends and be normal, but he just didn’t know how. It was so sweet how Cooper made friends with that 90-something year old man. I sympathized for him. I wanted him cured and not be so fearful.

His family didn’t understand him, but his mother and his sister, Caddie, earn points for trying to connect with him. His sister was easily embarrassed by Cooper’s behavior, but she did attempt to play with him. His mother was patient, but his father scared him. Whenever Cooper had an OCD episode, his family would refer to that side of him as “That Boy”. It was as if “That Boy” was a separate entity.

Cooper read people very well. That was another thing I loved about him. When this family went to the cabin for the summer, Cooper met a couple of teen boys on the beach. He immediately knew which kid was the foe. He had more courage than he realized.

The Notations of Cooper Cameron entertained me from beginning to end. I read it in one day because I just couldn’t put it down. I feel like I’m not doing the book justice, so I hope you just take a chance and read it. I’m going to end my review with a couple of Cooper’s journal entries.

”Sometimes you don’t know you have done something brave until it is behind you.”


”Sometimes you have to let go. And then you can use both hands to hang on for dear life.”

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