The old adage of not judging a book by its cover came to mind as I began to fall into this story of Rene, a freshman with OCD, who is the narrator (not quite unreliable but definitely unusual). In A SCARY SCENE IN A SCARY MOVIE by Matt Blackstone (FSG 2011), it was Rene's voice drew me in, though and I did not care one whit that this book was not what I had surmised from title and cover.
Rene is trying hard to cope with changes in his life, something that is never easy. A new student, however, named Gio, might just be what Rene needs to deal with a missing father who returns, a mother who seems too absorbed in her job to deal with Rene's fears and compulsions, an English teacher who slams his OWN head into a wall in frustration, and the usual cast of bullies who would take advantage of Rene's unique perspective on things. <389>
Interior monologue, as my friend Paul Hankins points out, is strong here. Readers know Rene from his thoughts however scatted and nonsequitur and strange they may appear on the surface. As we come to understand how Rene thinks, we better understand how he feels as well. Matt Blackstone has crafted a memorable narrator in Rene, imbuing him with humanity in the face of all his OCD behaviors. Gio and Mr. Head are also wonderfully complex people. This is a novel that will challenge readers to see others differently.