Merry Wanderer of the Night  + [YA]

Review: A Scary Scene in a Scary Movie by Matt Blackstone

I have my Bachelors Degree in Psychology, so anytime I come across a book that deals with Psychological disorders or is billed/marketed as 'psychological' my inner Psych nerd perks up and says 'Want'. So, when I heard about A Scary Scene in a Scary Movie by Matt Blackstone I was excited to read it and see what it had to offer.

A Scary Scene takes on the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) something that has become very, very prevalent in YA lit. (I'm working really hard to hold my tongue here... Come back in September and I'll have more to say on that.) Rene, our main character, is 14 and faces his OCD everyday.

Now, even though my degree is in Psychology, I do not claim to be an expert or capable of diagnosis. Rene has a bunch of different compulsions. He smells his hand when he's nervous, washes them regularly, can't function or move if the numbers of time add up to 13, because it's unlucky and more. And, whenever he gets to feeling really anxious or stressed or intensely emotional, he equates the feeling with 'a scary scene in a scary movie'. The book is about Rene, his struggles with OCD and how he tries to cope.

One thing I really liked about the way Blackstone tackled OCD here is that he doesn't sugar coat it. Far too many YA books out there right now use OCD as a way to add instant depth to an otherwise perfect character. It's a way to give them a disorder but still make them a viable and attractive love interest without actually giving them a completely debilitating illness. But that is an unfair portrayal of OCD. While OCD isn't as serious an illness as something like Paranoid Schizophrenia but it is still a serious problem for those who suffer from it. We joke in our culture that someone who uses a lot of Germ-X or is highly organized is OCD and we laugh about it. But OCD is something that is so much more than that, so much worse and I think a lot of authors do those suffering from OCD a disservice by making it a character trait instead of an illness.

OCD is classified as an anxiety disorder. A Scary Scene is one of the few books I've read that actual handles OCD as such. In other books it's an annoyance or an inconvenience, but in Rene's world it is something that consumes this thoughts, his attention, his focus and it interferes with how he lives his life. It's an illness and I can't tell you how happy I was to come across a book that treated it as such.

Although I thought Blackstone did a fairly good job addressing the more serious side of OCD, I did feel that there was something missing in this book. I wasn't quite sure that I believed in a lot of the characters and their interactions with each other. Rene has never really had a friend, his OCD gets in the way of that, but then Gio moves into his school. And Rene is fascinated by Gio and decides he's going to try and get to know him. Surprisingly, it works. They are somehow able to

Then the story kind of falls apart for me a little bit. I feel like Blackstone wasn't sure that a story about a kid dealing with the harsh realities of OCD wasn't going to have enough conflict, enough drama and so he brought in a whole story line involving his father, and New York City. This is when I kind of stopped believing in the actions of the characters, and when the story started to lose some of it's credibility for me. Perhaps there was more to the story that I missed, but I honestly believe that a story about a kid learning to deal with an anxiety disorder as severe as Rene's doesn't need to borrow trouble.

Overall, this is a book that I believe was worth reading. I'm glad I read it and glad that I was able to find a book that, for the most part, gave a more realistic view of how bad OCD can really be for someone living through it. I'm not sure how realistic I think the book is overall, but I can tell you that someone, especially a young kid suffering through OCD is going to act more like Rene does than some of the glib, 'casually disordered' characters we see in other recent books.

*Disclaimer: A copy of this book was received through the Teen Book Scene in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.