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Oxford Messed Up (a book I loved)

My own picture. Reading and relaxing on vacation. Don't hate me.

When I’m asked to review a book I am normally not interested because it takes me a while to finish books and I don’t want to disappoint on when I’ll have a review up. In fact, it takes a lot to interest me in a book. For reviews of any kind, I like it to be tied to special needs in some way. In this case — the book Oxford Messed Up, by Andrea Kayne Kaufman — the letters OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) caught my attention.

I like to say my son has a “touch of the OCD” because honestly he has the touch of a lot of things and that is just one. I’m interested in the different manifestations of OCD because of the anxiety part. My son has a lot of anxiety so the book’s description intrigued me. Well, the words “love story” and “cognitive behavior therapy” peaked my interest too, because count me in anywhere you can mix those two concepts!

Andrea Kayne Kaufman

As I started to read Oxford Messed Up, I liked Gloria immediately. A young woman, with issues, setting out to survive her experience at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, she was likable in spite of her quirks; or differences. I wasn’t so sure of her boyfriend, Oliver, though. He was unlikeable immediately. At Oxford she meets charming Henry and they build a friendship on a shared love of music (Van Morrison, which is cool) and a shared bathroom. The bathroom you ask? It was a pivotal spot for the couple and their love story. A true writer is one who can weave that into a story and make it read romantic.

I love it when a writer like Andrea can make me see through their words the rolling of the eyes of a daughter at her parents, or how disheveled and sexy Henry looks and exactly what Gloria’s hands look like after being washed and sanitized over and over. She made Henry’s impossible father real and she took Henry on a journey through academia that I enjoyed seeing unfold.

I only cried once. It was when Gloria called her mom from the bed after a debilitating anxiety attack. What? I have no idea where that came from either (except, you know, I was thinking how it’s possible I’d get a call like that some day) but I recovered quickly. Gloria’s compulsions were hard to read about but the original cause in her teens was heartbreaking. I was rooting for Gloria so much and wondering if it was at all possible for love to live with her and a mess like Henry. Adorable he was, yes, but still a mess.

I loved, loved this book. Special needs twist or not, honestly. I didn’t put this book down. I also want to add something that probably doesn’t matter to other people but the paperback book is a great size and weight and with the cover thickness it just feels right to hold.

I liked that I learned more about ODC and the music of Van Morrison for sure, but I most enjoyed the love story. I loved Gloria and Henry’s resilience because we all have that inside of us and it’s a great reminder for me each day, especially today.

Want a copy? Trust me, you want a copy!

To win one of five (5!) paperback copies Andrea graciously gave me, leave a comment by next Tuesday, April 24 at 5pm EST. 

To buy the book, visit here. Kindle available!

To read about Andrea, visit her site here (and can I say it’s a lovely, site to dig through…)


WINNERS: (selected by

Rhonda, Laura H, Lori, Jessica K, Anne! Congrats…I’ll be emailing soon for your addresses! Enjoy the book!


Support for Special was compensated to reach our readers with this review, but please know, I gave my honest opinion. That is, I would have loved this even if the hosting cost for this community wasn’t covered next month. 

Note: To support the site we make money on some products, product categories and services that we talk about on this website through affiliate relationships with the merchants in question. We get a small commission on sales of those products.That in no way affects our opinions of those products and services.

50 free prints
  1. Monica Kurtz
    April 25, 2012 |
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  4. Jessica Krisanda
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  5. Laura Hessenflow
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  6. Lori
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  8. Tara Fitzgerald
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  11. Anne
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  12. Rose Prevost
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  13. rhonda
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  15. Anne
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