Caring Is Creepy by David Zimmerman

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Genre: Realistic Fiction
Winner 2013 Alex Award, the ALA’s award for “books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults.”

Caring Is Creepy is the story of Lynn, a 15-year-old girl with a troubled home life. It follows two stories that ultimately converge. In the first, Lynn deals with her mother’s boyfriend and the drug-dealing troubles he brings, and in the second, she explores a relationship with a damaged soldier (Logan) she meets online.

Ultimately I would say this book probably has a high interest level, but I would not recommend it for classroom teaching. If used, it would be better geared toward an outside or summer read.

-There are strong sexual themes and objectionable language, in addition to drug and alcohol use by minors. I’m not a prude and against censorship, but don’t feel this book is strong enough in a literary sense to justify overlooking these things for the purpose of teaching.

-It doesn’t present many teachable moments and themes.

-This may seem petty, but I take objection with the author’s use of the terms “might of,” “could of,” etc. in place of “might have,” “could have,” etc. I think (I hope!) he was trying to replicated teenage language, but I can’t in good conscience highly recommend a book that reinforces poor grammar. It’s my belief that one’s writing is remarkably influenced by one’s reading, and learning what sounds and looks right and applying it to writing is an important process. This book confuses that process. 

-I also found myself hard pressed to explain how Lynn grows over the course of the novel. Her behavior grows increasingly bizarre and is never really addressed. Her lot in life improves only minimally by the end of the story.

-The subject I found most teachable in the book – Logan’s PTSD – was never fully dealt with, explained or explored.

-Again, this is petty, but books that reference pop culture annoy me (the title here is take from a Shins song). I think by trying to seem relevant, they date themselves.

Teaching resources:

Publisher website:’s explanation of and resources for dealing with PTSD.’s PTSD page.

Podcast on treating PTSD with Tetris (#299)

Sample essay prompts based on past MCAS exam essay prompts:

1. Lynn’s friendship with Dani plays a central role in the book.  In a well-developed composition, describe their friendship and explain why it is important to the story.

2. In life as in literature, people must live with the consequences of their choices. In a well-developed composition, identify one or more choices Lynn makes and explain what happens as a result.

3. In life as in literature, pride and selfishness can create problems.  In a well-developed composition, identify a character from Caring Is Creepy for whom this is true, describe how the character’s pride or selfishness creates problems, and explain how the character’s experience relates to the work as a whole.



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