Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT THE A TO Z OF NORMAL by Helen Barbour @HelenTheWriter

Today’s team review is from Georgia, she blogs here

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Georgia has been reading The A to Z of Normal by Helen Barbour


#Bookreview for The A to Z of Normal by Helen Barbour @HelenTheWriter


Clare lives with obsessive-compulsive disorder, perfectionism and anxiety and as one who is only an untidy pile of papers away from slipping over into this life (hell I even bought a desk with curved edges to prevent me being able to line things up against them) I could totally understand her feelings which were excellently portrayed by Ms Barbour throughout this book.

Clare is a successful, independent woman who loves Tom. He sounds great, and is just a normal bloke who lives in an untidy house with his dog. Clare has no problem going to his house to stay because it is not her space. The problem comes for her when he asks her to marry him. She realises that she is not going to be able to impose the rules she lives by once they are married and sets out to ‘cure’ herself.

Here comes the only irritation I had with this book. I found myself in one of those moments where you’re shouting at the television ‘Don’t go upstairs/outside/for God sake turn the lights on!’ when watching a horror film only in this case it was, ‘You’re getting married, just tell him!’ Obviously much of the story would have been lost if she had done at the outset and I’m sure there is something in the disorder which makes the sufferer want to keep that information to themselves. However, this reaction of mine shows how well the writer engaged me right from the start of this read.

Eventually, of course, it does all come out and we see how their relationship progresses from there. One of my favourite parts was Clare’s interaction with Michael from the support group. Without giving any spoilers what happened there did not sit well with me, and how Clare is going to cope with that in the future will be interesting (is there going to be a sequel?) however Clare’s realisation of what he was up to I thought was brilliantly handled.

I found this a very interesting read which highlighted the details of a complex condition that Ms Barbour is clearly very knowledgeable about and I don’t hesitate in highly recommending it.

I received a copy of this book from the author, via Rosie’s Book Review Team, in exchange for an honest review and this has not altered my opinion of the book one iota.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT The A-Z of Normal by @HelenTheWriter

Today’s team book review is from Judith, she blogs at

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Judith chose to read and review The A-Z of Normal by Helen Barbour


I give The A-Z of Normal, by Helen Barbour 5*

I loved The A-Z of Normal, by Helen Barbour. Just by looking at the interesting cover I knew this wasn’t going to be a conventional romance when I chose to review this book. And thank you to Rosie and Helen for this great find.

No, this is as much the poignant story of the protagonist, Clare and her struggle with the condition of  Obsessive Compulsive Disorder ( OCD) which she has kept secret from her family and friends all her life. Now, with a marriage proposal from Tom, she has to face up to all the issues that living with him will face. Although the subject of OCD is inherently distressing there is plenty of what I would call ‘dark’ humour that lifts the story and makes compulsive yet challenging reading.

As usual I will not give spoilers in my review. What I will do is urge anyone to give this book a go.

Helen Barbour has a wonderfully unique writing style and interweaves the main plot around sub plots with skill and subtlety. The story moves at a satisfying pace with no lapses

Told mainly from the first point of view of Clare, both the internal and the spoken dialogue is so well written that the words echoed in my head – always a sign to me that the speech resonates with the way  that character would talk.

Each of the characters is rounded and individual in their own way. And the interaction between them is loaded with complexity and tension that could only be expected where there is such a destructive secret. Yet it is satisfying to see how, as we gradually learn about her background, the relationship with both her father and her sister evolves

As I said at the beginning of this review, this is a book I loved. It made me think long and hard about a mental issue I hadn’t considered before and how it can ruin the life of so many people. Yet this story lifted me beyond that into admiring the writing, the words on the page. I would thoroughly recommend this book and hope we will see more from this author.

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Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT The A to Z of Normal by Helen Barbour @HelenTheWriter

Today’s team review is from Wendy, she blogs at

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Wendy chose to read and review The A to Z of Normal by Helen Barbour


This the first book every written by Helen Barbour! Congratulations to her in succeeding and achieving her dream!!!

This book involves Clare, who has OCD, and has accepted a marriage proposal from her boyfriend, Tom. Clare has a type of OCD that involves Symmetry and Orderliness. She has been keeping her OCD a secret from everyone her entire life. Once he proposes, she has to face what the OCD is doing to her life and her relationships with her family and with Tom. Clare tries really hard to acknowledge her condition and takes steps to try to change her behavior by seeking support in a weekly therapy group. This is where she meets Michael, who has a similar form of OCD, and he is ready and willing to help Clare.

Also, going on in the story is Clare’s dysfunctional relationship with her older sister, Fiona, (who has some serious issues of her own going on) and her bizarre relationship with her father. As Clare struggles throughout the book to control her OCD, she encounters triggers that keep forcing her backwards, and possibly ruining her relationship with Tom.

I could totally relate with Clare and her need to have some control by keeping everything in its place. I’m always telling my daughter that everything has its place, so that we can easily find it…. It was nice to read a book that dealt with a mental health issue in a way others can relate. I also was interested in reading this book as my significant other has OCD.

The book’s setting is in the United Kingdom so getting used to the different phrases that they use was also very interesting.

Thank you to Rosie Book Review Team for a free copy of this book for an exchange of an honest review.

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