Oxford Messed Up. a novel.

Oxford Messed Up

About the Book

Hailed by mental health experts and members of the OCD community for its authentic and sensitive portrayal of OCD, the novel was also honored with an “IPPY” award for Best Adult Fiction E-Book, 2012. Oxford Messed Up earned the Gold Medal and was ranked among the most “heartfelt, unique, outspoken and experimental” entries. The Independent Publisher book awards honor the year’s best independently published titles who “exhibit the courage, innovation, and creativity necessary to take chances, break new ground, and bring about change, not only to the world of publishing, but to our society.”

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 Morrisons 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.

Rhodes Scholar Gloria Zimmerman is an academic superstar, who has come to Oxford to study feminist poetry. Yet the rigors of the academy pale in comparison with the untreated Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder that she suffers, fueled by her overachieving Chicago parents, and manifested in a deathly aversion to germs and human contact. Her OCD has left her hands rubbed as raw as a burn victim’s and her psyche shattered and in thrall to a possessive and codependent externalized inner voice.

Her dormitory room neighbor (who is also, to her mortification, her loomate) is Henry Young, the appealing but underachieving musician son of an overbearing and disapproving Oxford don. Still mourning the death of his supportive mother while enduring the mockery of his disapproving and merciless father, Henry is haunted by the unexpectedly serious ramifications of a reckless and tragic youth.

Their relationship evolves from a shared obsession with Van Morrison’s music into a desire on the part of each to fill in the gaps in the life of the other. Henry seeks to enable Gloria to conquer her OCD and enter the world of intimacy, while Gloria will help Henry achieve academic success and earn the respect of his implacable father. Yet the constraints of a debilitating illness and the looming revelation of a catastrophic secret conspire to throw their worlds into upheaval, and threaten the possibilities of their unlikely, yet redemptive love.


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“The heroine of Oxford Messed Up by Andrea Kayne Kaufman also 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. 

Hoarding, Hand-washing, and Hallucinations: The Most Lovable Neurotic Heroines in Romance

Read the full article here: HeroesandHeartbreakers.com

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. –Linda Hitchcock (Review Crew).”

Top Reads In 2012 Selected By BookTrib Staff, Contributors and Members

Read the full article here: Top Reads of 2012
BookTrib, The All-You-Can-Eat Literary Buffet

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.

Biblioracle Recommendations

Read the full article here: Biblioracle: The big box conundrum
Chicago Tribune


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Oxford Messed Up is a redemptive literary love story which transports readers on a meaningful and emotional journey, where the academic world of Oxford serves as a backdrop for learning and self-discovery. The locations where the story of Gloria and Henry unfolds are as real as the couple's special connection.

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