A Scary Scene in a Scary Movie

Matt Blackstone, Author
Matt Blackstone. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $16.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-374-36421-2
Open Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-4299-6969-7
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Blackstone makes a bold and idiosyncratic debut with this boisterous novel about a 14-year-old boy with obsessive-compulsive disorder. The author effectively renders the messy, noisy interior world of Rene Fowler, who lives alone with his single mother and struggles to not just survive but enjoy the chaos of high school. Rene is wedded to his routines and his habits (perpetually smelling his left hand, wearing rubber bands on his wrists, not moving if the time adds up to 13—8:32 or 5:44, for example), and relying on his Batman cape for security. He also has a serious crush, red-haired Ariel, his "angel," and a new friend—a "freakishly tall," social butterfly, Gio. When Rene's long-estranged and boorish father returns home, Gio and Rene run away to Manhattan, where they come across Ariel, and their paradise/nightmare adventure there takes up the last third of the book. Rene's honest, often humorous voice is as compelling as it is exhausting. Blackstone succeeds in creating a singular teenager who happens to have OCD; readers will emerge with a close understanding of the mind and heart of someone with this disorder. Ages 12–up. (July)
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