Summary: Kat Greene Comes Clean
Kat Greene lives in New York City with her mom and attends an unconventional middle-school (where no one gets disciplined). Since her parents’ divorce and her mom’s job loss, Kat’s mom has been cleaning and washing her hands a bit too often. Her hands are red and chapped, and she has to wipe down cans at the grocery store before she can buy them — no matter how long it takes.
Kat wants to talk to another adult about her mom’s habits, but is worried she’ll get taken away from her. Her dad has a new wife and son, all of which have a good relationship with Kat and her mom, but her dad is always asking her to move in with them. On top of the home drama, Kat’s best friend Halle has a crush that threatens to topple their friendship, and Kat gets a role in the new Harriet the Spy class play that she’s not crazy about. The last straw is when her mother decides to join Clean Sweep, a cleaning reality TV show. Is it time for Kat to come clean?
In Kat Greene Comes Clean, author Melissa Roske does a brilliant job of depicting OCD in Kat’s mom. The reader can sense her anguish and her desire to stop, as well as the ensuing frustration when she cannot stop herself. We also see Kat’s despair and her dilemma as to whether or not she will tell the school counselor. OCD, like any other mental health challenge is difficult and impacts both those who struggle and their loved ones and this book realistically highlights this.
I also enjoyed Kat’s classroom drama as well as her counselor — I loved Olympia a lot, locs and all. It goes to show how vital it is to create a safe space for children at school where they know their troubles are safe to land. Kat and her dad have a solid relationship and I like the role he plays later in the book. Also, Henry, Kat’s little brother is adorable!
I really struggled with Halle and Kat’s friendship. I didn’t think it was a healthy relationship, especially with how hard Kat worked to fix it. Even though Halle’s confession softened my heart, I felt it could have been better written to avoid encouraging harmful friend behaviors. But maybe I’m just not as generous of heart as Kat is.
Overall: Kat Greene Comes Clean
Kat Greene Comes Clean is a moving addition to a too-short list of middle-grade books about mental illness. This novel also tackles friendship issues, blended families, and of course, is set in New York! There are sufficient windows into life in the Big Apple for readers who enjoy reading about NYC. If you’re looking for a true-to-life, heartrending account of a parent with OCD and how it affects their children, this is a great pick.
Buy This Book
More Middle-Grade Books About Mental Illness
- Finding Perfect by Elly Swartz (Main character with OCD)
- Up for Air by Laurie Morrison (Minor character with eating disorder)
- The Memory Keeper by Jennifer Camiccia (Grandparent with Alzheimer’s)
Middle-Grade Books Set in New York City
- Well, That Was Awkward by Rachael Vail
- Some Places More Than Others by Renee Watson
- The Long Ride by Marina Tamar Budhos
Have you read this book or any other middle-grade books about mental illness? How about those set in NYC? I’d love to hear your recs!