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A Scary Scene in a Scary Movie

Review

A Scary Scene in a Scary Movie

Welcome to Rene's world. He tries to avoid doing anything when the time adds up to 13 (8:23 is dangerous because 8 + 2 + 3 = 13) or else something catastrophic could happen to someone he loves. He washes his body parts in a particular order, wears a Batman cape when he's anxious just to feel safe, and never ever steps on the cracks on the sidewalk. Rene recognizes that he has obsessive-compulsive disorder and just asks that everyone leave him alone.

Surviving high school is the ultimate task for Rene. He occasionally does his homework and struggles to have ordinary friendships. This year it's different, though, because Rene is devoted to helping his English teacher, Mr. Head, live through the school year, too. He also has a secret weapon on his side --- his new and only friend, Giovanni. Gio is as cool and smooth as they come. He immediately recognized that Rene wasn't caught up in all that school has to offer, and thus their friendship was born. Little does Rene know that Gio will help him figure out a lot about life.

First, Gio introduces Rene to some friendly people outside of school. Rene learns what it's like to be nice to others and ultimately what it means to be a friend. Second, Gio helps Rene stand up for himself against some of his worst tormentors. For most kids, this might be in the form of brushing off insults or telling somebody to leave them alone. For Rene, this means screaming at kids in class to leave Mr. Head alone. But most importantly, Gio is by Rene's side when he confronts his dysfunctional family.

Rene's dad (or Phil, as Rene likes to call him) is a deadbeat who never got a job and doesn't understand Rene's disorder. When he resurfaces after abandoning Rene years before, Rene relies on Gio to have the courage to tell him off. After the confrontation goes awry, Rene and Gio decide to leave town and hitch a ride to New York City for a break. Unprepared for what the city has to offer, they soon learn that it's not easy to be relaxed and cool all the time and that sometimes life is like a scary scene in a scary movie.

It's not very often that you get to go inside the mind of someone with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Not only do you get to see all of Rene's thoughts as he navigates throughout his day, you also get to experience the intricacies of how he maintains order in his very complicated life. Throw in a great friend like Gio, a suffering yet ultimately empowered teacher, and one of the best jerk-fathers I've read in a while, and A SCARY SCENE IN A SCARY MOVIE makes for a compelling book. It's a bit anti-climactic, but you'll enjoy meeting Rene.

Reviewed by Benjamin Boche on July 5, 2011

A Scary Scene in a Scary Movie
by Matt Blackstone

  • Publication Date: July 5, 2011
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
  • ISBN-10: 0374364214
  • ISBN-13: 9780374364212