Life is an endless high-wire act for 14-year-old obsessive-compulsive Rene. He can’t step on cracks. The coins he picks up must be lucky ones. He has got to wear the correct number of rubber bands around his wrists. Closing his locker is impossible without tapping it three times with his pinkie. Slipups result in any number of doomsday fantasies, from humiliation to disease to outright murder. Then he befriends Gio, an unconventional classmate who has his own vocabulary (“b’noodles” means awesome) and takes the nervous Rene on an unannounced seat-of-their-pants road trip to New York City. The feedback loops of worry—perhaps unavoidably—can be a bit maddening, but Blackstone keeps things fresh with insight and wit. He is also skilled at creating fully realized adult characters: both Rene’s loudmouthed father and depressed English teacher are achingly real and believably troubled. This debut might suffer from competition with other similarly themed titles, but it’s still pretty darn b’noodles. — BOOKLIST
Rene has no friends, but his compulsive rituals keep him occupied, ensuring his prevention of all disasters for himself and the universe at large. At almost 14, his life at school is spent observing the Devilblackcoats, the Bigbulletholes, the Smartypants, Cutters, Likegirls, and the Angels. Fitting in with none of the groups and liking the Angels but invisible to them, Rene decides that Gio could be his first friend as he witnesses him being kind to the unfortunately named teacher, Richard Head. Rene reports that his own mother thinks he’s nuts since, “I washed my hands until they were red and raw, talked to myself in public, ran away from anything numbered thirteen, smelled my hands more than forty times per day, ate my animal crackers in a specific order, and made creepy smiley faces out of napkins–even when I didn’t want to. ” As Rene connects with both Mr. Head and Gio, his life is turned upside down. His highly unusual, practically unique voice and character have charm and humor and yet are clearly not in the normal range. At one point, without consulting the girl, he decides in his own head to offer marriage, plans the wedding, and then finds himself tripped up by never getting an opportune moment to mention any hint to her. Quirky and surprisingly upbeat, it’s Rene’s voice laughing at himself and yet taking his needs seriously that will lure readers into his head and into his heart. – School Library Journal
The stats: A Scary Scene in a Scary Movie is high school English teacher Matt Blackstone’s debut novel. It’ll hit bookstores July 5th.
The gist: Rene, a high school freshman with OCD, is an outcast at school. He smells his left hand when he’s nervous, won’t ever pick up a coin that’s face down, and can’t move a muscle if the time adds up to thirteen. When a cool new kid, Gio, befriends him, Rene is positive his life will become “b’noodles”, even if his ex-dad Phil seems to be coming back into the picture. This book is charmingly heartbreaking, but still filled with moments that will make you literally laugh out loud.
Our favorite part: There were so many lovely moments in the book, but when Rene flips out at the school bully to defend is favorite teacher, you can’t help but smile and be proud of him. Plus, we just loved the different voices used in the book; the contrast in style between Rene’s anxious explanations of how something terrible will happen if he doesn’t shower in the exact right way, and Gio’s chilled-out view of the world draws you into their equally troubled lives completely.
You’ll love it if… you love stories with quirky characters and tales of the underdog prevailing. It’s never cheesy or unrealistic, just a good book that makes you want to take the world less seriously.
“Blackstone makes a bold and idiosyncratic debut with this boisterous novel about a 14-year-old boy with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Honest…humorous…compelling.”
“Debut author Matt Blackstone reveals a true talent for creating quirky characters and using humor to tell the story of Rene’s battle against OCD and the turmoil of his dysfunctional family. Teen readers will easily relate to Rene’s struggles and to the rest of this colorful cast of characters.”
“By turns funny and heartbreaking, A SCARY SCENE IN A SCARY MOVIE is a journey into the heart and mind of an anti-social butterfly, genius child. Be warned: once you go on this journey with this (super) hero you will never be the same.”
–Willie Perdomo, author of SMOKING LOVELY, WHERE A NICKEL COSTS A DIME, VISITING LANGSTON, and CLEMENTE!
“The only way to understand fourteen year-old Rene Fowler is to get into his constantly racing, wandering and troubled mind… and being there is as uncomfortable as you might expect. The beautiful writing, vivid details and bizarre logical leaps Rene makes keep you turning the pages. Whether you are a Smartypants, a Devilblackcoat, a Bigbullethole, a Cutter or a Likegirl you will love A SCARY SCENE IN A SCARY MOVIE.”
–Eric Luper, author of BIG SLICK, BUG BOY, and SETH BAUMGARTNER’S LOVE MANIFESTO.
“Matt Blackstone is a talented new writer who brings the angst of Rene to us on each page of A SCARY SCENE IN A SCARY MOVIE.”
–Marlene Newman, author of MYRON’S MAGIC COW
“A SCARY SCENE IN SCARY MOVIE by Matt Blackstone is an attention grabbing, life changing book . . . As a high school student, I found this book enjoyable and easy to relate to. I assure anyone who decides to buy this book that you will not regret it!
–Kimberly Marzant, 9th grade student; Bronx, NY
“Funny and realistic with exceptionally memorable characters. Beautifully constructed with twists and turns. Sure to become a national bestseller.”
–Kelly Valentine, 10th grade student; Bronx, NY
“Reading this novel made me more attracted to reading because of the ‘high school’ jargon and it’s consistent plot. A SCARY SCENE IN A SCARY MOVIE is a very well-written book that is not monotonous so you will not force yourself to read it but instead you will actually want to read it and finish it. The characters are realistic, with a protagonist being someone we all know as the kid we have known for years but never bothered to learn their name. I would definitely recommend this book to a friend.”
–Omar Hernandez, 9th grade student; Bronx, NY.
“Reading this book made me laugh and expand how I would handle situations and think. Throughout this book, the author used the mind of a real teenager and made it funny. This book made me want to continue reading.”
–Ashley Diallo, 9th grade student; Bronx, NY
“Reading this book made me actually want to read. I’m not a big fan in reading and staying interested in one book; but, this novel kept me interested the whole way through. This has problems that teenagers go through with life and school. As for me, I can connect to it because I’m the person in the background like Rene. I believe that is why I stayed reading it to the end. It’s a MUST have and you won’t regret buying it!”
–Marcos Acosta, 9th grade student; NY, NY
“A SCARY SCENE IN A SCARY MOVIE by Matt Blackstone is a life changing story not only for teens, but also for adults. As a teen I feel like I can relate to this story so much. From the moment I opened and read the first sentence of this book I was attracted and wanted to read more, more and more.This book is filled with excitement and many conflicts with the main characters. I’m sure this book will open your mind up and make you experience friendship in different ways.”
–Geraldo Rodriguez, 9th grade student; NY, NY