Teachers often say that loud, disruptive students are thorns in their sides but most would admit that the truly dangerous ones—dangerous, at least, to themselves—are the quiet, aloof ones who fly under the radar because they nod politely at their teachers. They play the game well, well enough to get promoted, but they are anything but well. At best, these kids are wild cards who occasionally fail a test but turn out aces; at worst, they sleep on the street.
A SCARY SCENE IN A SCARY MOVIE is the result of seeing a growing number of students isolate themselves. Rene, the protagonist, is a composite of wild card students I have either taught or observed. Rene’s rituals and magical thinking exemplify what it means to be mentally ill, or at least socially inept, in a high school setting that demands academic prowess and social fluency. I wrote this book to offer hope to wild card teenagers (what teen isn’t a wild card these days?) or those who begrudge their parents (sometimes deservedly so), question conformity, and feel so desperate and alone that the only safe place is inside their heads. But what if even that place isn’t safe?