Today is August 1, 2011, or, 8-1-2011. And since 8+1+2+1+1 = 13, I thought it was a good opportunity to introduce you to Rene Fowler. Unfortunately, Rene did not like my idea; he is plagued by the fixation that thirteen is unlucky, and therefore would not be reached for comments. I'm told he's spending the day in bed (invisible, thanks to the protection of his favorite hooded sweatshirt) staring at his Batman watch and waiting for midnight when it will be safe to leave his sanctuary. Meanwhile, he remains occupied making smiley faces out of tissues and toilet paper - it's like playing Wii for this kid.
Rene Fowler is the protagonist in Matt Blackstone's A Scary Scene in A Scary Movie. In this contemporary YA novel, the author delivers a pitch-perfect depiction of life for a teenager struggling with OCD.
I awaited the release of this novel for months, and am happy to report it exceeded all expectations. This comical tale does more than keep readers laughing and flipping pages with anticipation; it offers insight to a population most of us cannot understand. OCD is not an illness that attacks organs or makes someone feel ill - it is a mental disease that controls the brain, preventing victims from experiencing the same quality of life the rest of us often take for granted.
As both a reader and educator, I was thrilled to see an author tackle a topic needing more attention. It's encouraging to see a portal for teens to gain insight about their socially awkward classmate or the neighbor who spends weekends performing 'odd' rituals. Knowledge is essential for tolerance and acceptance to permeate; it is the key ingredient for understanding the foundation of behaviors and personalities we may not understand.
Blackstone nailed the character of Rene, never once deviating from the mindset of an OCD teen. That fourth wall was sealed to perfection. Through his developed supporting characters, the reader is taken through the reactions of multiple outsiders - those who are compassionate and understanding, and those who target individuals they consider 'different'.
A Scary Scene in A Scary Movie is a book that makes you think. It guides readers to view situations from multiple perspectives while laying the foundation for personal reflection and meaningful discussion. I recommend this book to anyone seeking an engaging story bound to hold your attention. I especially recommend it for educators and reluctant teen readers.
Having worked as a public school teacher, I most enjoyed the scenes taking place in Rene's high school - his interactions with teachers and classmates kept me nodding in agreement, and of course, the inferences I pulled regarding educational issues delivered feelings of nostalgia.
This book grabbed me on the first page. I immediately developed an interest and personal connection to Rene. I never considered him a character; instead, he was a real person with a story I needed to hear. I love a book that makes me feel, think, and learn. Despite being housed under the young adult umbrella, this book provides readers of all ages those exact opportunities.