Oxford Messed Up is the story of Gloria and Henry, two modern Oxford students who share a flat (well, actually a bathroom. The problem is that Gloria, a brilliant Rhodes Scholar, suffers from an extreme case of OCD with a phobia about germs, and Henry is a former alcoholic and drug addict with relaxed standards of neatness and cleanliness, no self esteem and a dark secret. Both come from extremely dysfunctional families. They seem an unlikely pair.
Yet, a mutual adoration of Van Morrison proves a bridge between the two that gradually allows them to become friends, and when Henry decides he must help Gloria overcome the OCD voice in her head that has her trapped in a set of miserable rules (and which she has named Oliver), little does he know that with the help of his psychologist sister and Cognitive Behavior Therapy, not only will he help her, but she will help him, and together, they will get better and stronger. But can they fall in love and do they have any chance at a future?
Oxford Messed Up is more than a love story. It weaves a lot of information about Van Morrison’s music, an authentic look at Oxford life, and an informative and serious look at mental disorders and the power of love and proper treatment to overcome them, no matter how “messed up” a person may be, or what sort of dysfunctional background that person may have, into a story that both intrigues and informs. We all have our demons to overcome, after all, and we all need to believe in the power we have within us to fight those demons and win.
You will root for Henry and Gloria, suffer with them through their setbacks and celebrate their victories. Andreaq Kayne Kaufman is to be commended for writing such a compelling and inspiring first novel.