Friday, October 21, 2011
Don't Step on any Cracks
Can you imagine living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)? You would be a slave to your compulsions and it would control your life. Step On a Crack, Break Your Mother's Back. Simple saying could overtake a simple walk home from school. OCD is a disorder we think we know something about, but we have no idea what goes on inside the mind of someone suffering from OCD... that is, until Matt Blackstone's book, A Scary Scene in a Scary Movie.
When Rene gets nervous, he sniffs his left hand. Only his left hand. When he gets upset, the Batman cape comes out. He can't step on cracks or something horrible will happen to someone he loves. Rene has OCD. Not a pleasant affliction when you are expected to walk the halls of the high school jungle every day. But Rene knows if he can get a friend, just one friend, his life will become infinitely better. When he finally puts himself out there, he manages to meet a pretty interesting young man named Gio. Gio lives his life to the fullest each and every moment. He has the kind of carefree lifestyle Rene would kill for, or step on a crack for.
Armed with Gio's support, Rene finds himself coming out of his compulsive shell. He even stands up to one of the school bullies in order to protect his favorite teacher, Mr. Head (Mr. Richard Head). When his absentee father Phil reappears, Rene finally loses it- with Gio's help, he does something he never would have thought of doing before... he runs away. On an impromptu adventure to New York City, Gio and Rene attempt to answer some very deep questions... and some not so deep questions too!
Years ago I read a book about a teen girl with OCD named Kissing Doorknobs. It was touching, funny, and so very sad. I was expecting something similar from this book, but I didn't get the same feeling. The main character seemed to have Aspberger's more than OCD. He definitely had some compulsions and obsessions (like his inability to do anything at a time that added up to 13), but his actions didn't strike me as particularly OCD. I also struggled with the plot. I actually put this book down twice and read two entire books in the duration of trying to finish this book. The plot faltered and seemed forced at many times. It was as if Blackstone had a vision in mind, but wasn't sure where it needed to go.
The book is appropriate for any junior high or high school student, but I don't think I would recommend it to many kids. If they were interested in OCD, I would give them Kissing Doorknobs before I gave them this book. If they were looking for a fun, interesting book, I have tons of other books I would give them before this one. Sadly, it just wasn't what I was hoping for. Matt Blackstone is going to be at Oblong Books and Music for the Hudson Valley YA Society event next Sunday in Rhinebeck. I am interested to hear him read the book aloud- hopefully I am mistaken about this book and there is more to it!