Hailed by critics, readers, and experts for its engaging story and sensitive portrayal of OCD, the novel was also honored with an Independent Publisher Book Award (“IPPY”) for Best Adult Fiction. Oxford Messed Up earned the Gold Medal and was ranked among the most “heartfelt, unique, outspoken and experimental” entries.
Who knew that life in one Oxford dorm, with a shared bathroom, would become the catalyst for self-examination and exploration not only of one’s soul, but ultimately of one’s soulmate? The lyrics of Van Morrison‘s music, the poetry of Sylvia Plath, and an old clawfoot bathtub provoke this unexpected journey where the exotic locale of Oxford University is an engaging backdrop for true learning as Gloria Zimmerman and Henry Young discover the loveliness in their own germs and each other. In partnership with DeHaven Productions, Andrea is developing a television series based on Oxford Messed Up.
“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.”
“This is a very special novel. It would translate beautifully to film. If that ever happened, I can guarantee it would be one I would watch over and over again. And to think it has its own amazing built in soundtrack. Absolute perfection.
Thank you, Andrea Kayne Kaufman, for showing people how debilitating mental diseases can be. For teaching people to understand that it’s not as easy as just turning it off. For helping readers realize that no matter our struggles we still have the power to choose happiness; to be fatally optimistic – to steal from Henry’s dissertation on Van Morrison.”
“A captivating story about a young woman with extreme OCD and her new loo-mate that triggers her anxiety in every possible way. They fall for each other over a mutual love of Van Morrison. I loved that this book took the heroine’s mental illness so seriously and did not condescendingly try to make the reader believe that falling in love was a cure for her daily struggles. Also, I learned to absolutely adore Van Morrison thanks to this author.”
Oxford Messed Up Named in Top 10 of 2014
Hoarding, Hand-washing, and Hallucinations: The Most Lovable Neurotic Heroines in Romance, HeroesandHeartbreakers.com
“The heroine of Oxford Messed Up struggles with obsessions and compulsions. Rhodes Scholar Gloria Zimmerman has lived a life of diligence and perfectionism in her academic pursuits, but it’s taken a toll on her mental health. She’s deathly afraid of germs and scrubs her hands until they’re raw. She feels like an outcast until she meets Henry Young, another damaged soul.”
Linda Hitchcock (Review Crew), Booktrib
“Oxford Messed Up, the brilliant debut novel of Andrea Kayne Kaufman about two troubled Oxford University graduate students that sensitively addresses Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and the healing power of music. Well drawn characters Gloria Zimmerman and Henry Young are instantly likeable and realistic. The book is set against the nearly audible strains of the haunting, evocative and steadfastly upbeat Celtic poetic genius Van Morrison. It’s a must read.”
Biblioracle: The big box conundrum, Chicago Tribune
Biblioracle John Warner is the author of “Funny Man.” He offers his recommendations to readers based on their interests. Oxford Messed Up is mentioned here as a #1 reader pick. This piece first ran in Printers Row Journal, delivered to Printers Row members with the Sunday Chicago Tribune.
Dina Bair, Emmy award-winning journalist, co-anchor WGN Chicago Midday News
“[Oxford Messed Up] is being applauded by the OCD community for what they say is an accurate depiction of the problem… It’s a great love story, but I also think it will help a lot of people at the same time. “
Adam Guerino, Producer, Comedian, Writer, That’s So Gay
“I encourage you to pick up Oxford Messed Up, not simply because of its sincere representation of something so commonly misunderstood but because it isn’t about that at all. It’s a love story where one of the characters has OCD.”
“For 16 years the Independent Publisher Book Awards have been conducted annually to honor the year’s best independently published titles. The “IPPY” Awards reward those who exhibit the courage, innovation, and creativity to bring about change in the world of publishing.”
Best Adult Fiction E-Book Gold Medal: Oxford Messed Up, by Andrea Kayne Kaufman (Grant Place Press)See the full list of award winners here: 2012 IPPY Awards
Daughters of the American Revolution Kentucky Society
“This is one of those rare works that makes one head straight to the computer to send emails to all reading friends proclaiming “you must read this book.” Kaufman, an Associate Professor at DePaul University, has written a brilliant debut novel about a young American Oxford University student who suffers from extreme, untreated Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.”
“Not only does it work, but it also doesn’t feel forced in terms of the writing or characterization. Gloria isn’t magically cured by the end of the book, and Henry slips and has to have a sit down with his AA sponsor. Too often, addictions or illnesses are treated as plot devices that are tied up once the couple is in love or the family is happy or whatever other happy denouement the author employs. Instead, Henry and Gloria are like the tupelo blossoms in one of their favorite songs, blossoms whose “vulnerability and short blossoming season made it a fucking miracle anytime one survived.” Survive they do, and though this book has a “happy” ending, it also comes with the understanding that this couple is real. Just as tupelo honey is the triumph of the tupelo’s survival, so too do Henry and Gloria have to survive to taste the sweetness of a life together, a life for which they will continue to work – individually and as a couple. Read this if you want a bit of smart romance.”
Elyn Saks, Author of The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness and winner of the MacArthur Genius Grant
“A beautifully written and compelling love story about two messed up people who help each other face and overcome their demons. Set in Oxford, and replete with references to a music they both love, the story gives a window into the mind of a woman, Gloria, who is suffering severe obsessive-compulsive disorder. We see her internal thoughts—her critical, perfectionistic, sometimes grandiose, and always germ-phobic thoughts—as well as the compulsive behaviors they lead to. We come intimately to know what it must feel like to have these struggles. Will the illness win or will Henry? Henry has his own problems: a recovering addict, he has no goals and little self-esteem. As their relationship grows, Gloria becomes messier and Henry less messy. Oxford Messed Up shows nothing less than the redemptive power of love.”
Please see recent New York Times article about MacArthur Genius Grant recipient Elyn Saks: Memoir About Schizophrenia Spurs Others to Come Forward
Finalist in 3 fiction categories (Grant Place Press), 2012 Indie Book Awards
The Next Generation Indie Book Awards honors indie authors and independent publishers through an international competition. It was established “to recognize and honor the most exceptional independently published books.”
More Book Reviews and Summer Reading Begins, Worthington Library
“Can you write it in a way that is compelling, that sheds some understanding on what Gloria’s inner world/voice must be like? Can love overcome all those challenges? Well, yes, you can write the interesting love story, and yes, it is compelling. Love alone does not quite overcome all the challenges but it helps. So does Gloria’s inner strength supported by the possibility of both love and a life and the idea that she could help Henry find that same strength in himself. Ready to reread it!”
Patricia Friedrich, PhD, author of No Ordinary Doubt: the social and linguistic construction of OCD, from New York University Press
“It was great to find Oxford Messed Up and so refreshing to see a novel where OCD is represented realistically in such a likable character as Gloria.”
The Chronicles of an Enamored Soul, Oxford Messed Up – Love in the time of OCD
“The beauty of Kaufman’s “Oxford Messed Up” lies in the multi-dimensional characters that are both rich and real, a narrative that soars in its simplicity and plunges into immense emotional depth at the same time, and prose that is beautifully crafted. What really, and absolutely, blows your mind is the way in which Andrea Kayne Kaufman explores the human spirit so beautifully, approaches the subject of mental health with such sensitivity and such intricacy, and creates her characters with such intimacy that you cannot help but become invested in their relationship, and attached to them. This is an absolutely brilliant novel, especially for a debut, and one I believe should become part of our curriculum, at least for students of Psychology – the kind of novel that generations down the road will read, seeking comfort in its characters. I wanted to kiss the hands that wrote this novel – I still might, if I ever am lucky enough to meet it’s author (it’s okay, Andrea, I’ll bring the hand sanitizer!). As a voracious reader, and an absolute worshiper of literature, I’m constantly searching for books that are life-changing – I assure you, Oxford Messed Up is just that kind of novel. I hope you will pick up this book, and I hope that it will leave you with as much joy and elation as it bestowed upon me.”
Kathleen McCartney, Dean & Gerald S. Lesser Professor in Early Childhood Development Harvard Graduate School of Education
“In her first novel, Andrea Kayne Kaufman asks whether each of us, messed up in our own way, can choose to embrace happiness. Her protagonists, Gloria and Henry, both Oxford graduate students, explore mental health and creativity through their work and in their relationship. Van Morrison’s lyrics provide a backdrop for this narrative, which is more than a love story — it is a study of fatalistic optimism. I couldn’t put this book down because Kaufman makes you care deeply about the individual journeys of her two protagonists.”
Susan Richman, Co-Founder and Honorary Chair, OCD Chicago
“Finally, a story that shows how powerful Cognitive Behavior Therapy really is, and a protagonist who is so much more than her OCD. You will root for Kaufman’s characters because of their beautifully realized humanity, while you gain understanding of the constant undercurrent of noise in the mind of anyone who has OCD. This book accurately and finally portrays the recovery that is possible when OCD is treated correctly. Thank you, Andrea Kayne Kaufman, on behalf of all of us who struggle with anxiety, and on behalf of all of us searching for healing, growth and a beautiful love story!”
OCD Chicago has endorsed Oxford Messed Up. Read the full press release: OCD Chicago Joins Oxford Messed Up Book Launch
Check out reviews on Amazon.