Today I’m featuring LIST OF TEN by Halli Gomez, a heart-wrenching #Own Voices contemporary about a boy with Tourette Syndrome and OCD who’s counting down to the day he will commit suicide.
Read on for my thoughts on the book and then make sure you also check out Halli’s list of top ten addictions! (But don’t worry—it’s much more lighthearted than the list of ten in the book—I feature this list a lot because it goes along with my blog name, but this is the first time it goes with the book title too!)
List of Ten by Halli Gomez
Published by Sterling Teen on March 16, 2021
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Source: The Publisher
Cover Artist: Elizabeth Lindy
My content rating: YA (Characters go just a bit further than kissing; Some drug use;
A harrowing yet hopeful account of a teen living with Tourette Syndrome and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder . . . and contemplating his own mortality.
Ten: three little letters, one ordinary number. No big deal, right? But for Troy Hayes, a 16-year-old suffering from Tourette Syndrome and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, the number ten dictates his life, forcing him to do everything by its exacting rhythm. Finally, fed up with the daily humiliation, loneliness, and physical pain he endures, Troy writes a list of ten things to do by the tenth anniversary of his diagnosis—culminating in suicide on the actual day. But the process of working his way through the list changes Troy’s life: he becomes friends with Khory, a smart, beautiful classmate who has her own troubled history. Khory unwittingly helps Troy cross off items on his list, moving him ever closer to his grand finale, even as she shows him that life may have more possibilities than he imagined. This is a dark, intense story, but it’s also realistic, hopeful, and deeply authentic.
This important book about living with Tourette Syndrome and OCD is equal parts inspirational and heartrending. Troy has struggled his whole life with the pain and stigma of a disorder that almost no one understands. He’s used to being looked at like he’s either crazy or on drugs. And the one person who could have helped him work through the emotional and physical turmoil he’s gone through—his mother—abandoned him as a child. Troy doesn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel, all he sees is more pain. Because of this, he makes a list of ten things he wants to accomplish before the ten year anniversary of his diagnosis (ten is an unfortunately significant number for him and holds a certain power over him due to his OCD). The tenth item on the list is committing suicide. While on the journey to accomplishing his checklist, Troy starts to find reasons to live, but he can’t quite decide if those outweigh the daunting realities in front of him.
It would be nearly impossible to read this book and not sympathize with Troy. Through his eyes, readers will come to understand the complexities of Tourette Syndrome and OCD: how the compulsions relentlessly drive him, how his emotions affect his symptoms, the intense physical pain that goes along with his tics. I came to care deeply for this boy who just wanted relief from his neverending struggles. And, yes, I shed tears for him when he was suffering from the suffocating truth that he would never be completely free from his burdens, even when many aspects of his life were falling into place beautifully. Ultimately, this is a story of hope, but it’s hard-won. There are no easy answers or quick fixes for Troy but, instead, he gains an innate sense of his own self-worth and an understanding of the ultimate value of life. I highly recommend this book!
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher for review purposes, and the author shares an agent with me, so we’ve met. Still, all opinions are my own and no compensation was given.***
About the Author
Halli Gomez teaches martial arts and writes for children and young adults. She has written several stories with neurodivergent characters including her young adult novel, LIST OF TEN (Sterling, March 2021) When no one is looking, she sock skates through the house and talks to dogs like they are human. When people are looking, she enjoys reading, outdoors, and breaking out of escape rooms with her family. Halli lives in North Carolina with her husband, two boys, and two dogs.
Halli’s Top Ten Addictions
1. Crumbl Cookies
No I didn’t spell that wrong, although despite being a writer, misspellings are common with me. It is a new cookie company (new to me) that opened a store way too close to my house. In walking distance! They have new flavors every week and they are delicious! How can I not try each one?
I would never describe myself as a person who digs through a bag of candy to find the only non-chocolate thing in there. But lately, my go-to snack at work are Starbursts. I have a feeling my dentist will not be happy at my next appointment.
This always makes my favorite list. I do love the taste, but for me it’s more about the event. Mornings in bed watching the news or in the afternoon curled up in my reading chair with a good book.
I love musicals for so many reasons. The music, of course, but also the stories, singing, and dance scenes. I absolutely love big dance scenes. Lately these soundtracks have been my writing playlists: Hamilton, Rocketman, The Greatest Showman, Dear Evan Hanson, and Be More Chill.
Sunshine makes me happy. It literally makes me smile. I love the way it warms my skin and makes the colors of the trees, sky, and houses so vibrant. If I’m having a bad day, I step into the sunshine and suddenly my mood brightens.
I have always been a jeans and T-shirt person. Even at home this past year I choose jeans over sweatpants or yoga pants. I can’t explain it.
7. Online conferences and workshops
My husband and I call it “a thing.” I’ll announce I have a “thing” and he knows it’s an online writing event and I’ll be hanging out at my writing desk for the next hour or two. Although I miss meeting people and talking to them face-to-face, these online events have allowed me to reach out to more writers and add to my writing toolbox.
What kind of reader and writer would I be if I didn’t love bookstores? I can wander around for HOURS! Browsing (and buying), pulling a few out, flipping through the pages, and searching for my favorite authors. It is my happy place.
I have been addicted to mysteries since I read my first Agatha Christie book (The Mirror Crack’d) at the age of ten. Since then, I chose a career where my job was to help solve mysteries (as an intelligence analyst), my family’s favorite activities are escape rooms (pre-COVID we had plans to open one), and my next few manuscripts involve mysteries.
Most of the time there is music playing near me. If I’m doing chores, working, walking, whatever else, there’s music. And if not, I’m usually singing to myself.
Oh, Halli, I feel you on that first one. If there was a cookie bakery within walking distance of my house, I would be doomed. And Dear Evan Hansen is a favorite musical of mine, but I’ve never heard of Be More Chill. I’ll have to go check that one out now!
Have you ever read a book about a character with Tourette Syndrome? I want to know!