Monday, April 21, 2008


By George Harrar

Devon Brown has tendencies. He tends to be afraid of germs. To be obsessive about numbers and about how he hangs his shirts in the closet. He tends to be anxious about many things. He has his own logic for why he eats his peas in fours, why he can’t bring himself to eat in the school cafeteria, and why he walks in the gutter instead of using the sidewalk. His logic might seem crazy but it stems from his own reality which is too painful to discuss. And so Devon tucks his pain inside and keeps a tight control on his life.

Because of his tendencies and their negative impact on him, Devon’s parents move him to a new town. They are intent on giving him a fresh start. A new beginning means a new psychiatrist, a private school, and the opportunity to make new friends.

But making friends would mean interaction. And with interaction comes risk. In spite of himself, however, Devon rather likes Tanya, the classmate who seeks him out in the parking lot during lunch period. He’s wary of Ben the purple haired boy who smokes marijuana in the school basement. Yet, following Ben into questionable activities fits with Devon’s “crazy” logic,

Ben is trouble. When Devon finds himself in a real crisis, as opposed to those he regularly imagines, he is forced to examine the source of his pain.

In Not As Crazy As I Seem, Devon tells his story so convincingly that readers actually “get” his logic. So truthfully that we feel his pain, and with such humor that the pain is bearable. This is an immensely enjoyable and revealing look at obsessive compulsive disorder.

Especially recommended for upper elementary and middle school students but also of interest to anyone who wants to explore compulsive behaviors. (Available in hardcover and paperback)

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