Not As Crazy As I Seem [NOOK Book]

Overview

Devon Brown won’t eat in the school caf (a germ swamp). He covers his hands before opening doors, eats things in groups of four (his lucky number), and hangs up his shirts (with all their buttons buttoned) by color. Some kids say Devon’s crazy, but he knows better—these are the tricks that keep bad things from happening, and he can’t imagine giving them up. Devon calls it “controlling things.” His doctor calls it obsessive-compulsive disorder. When Devon starts at a new school, his compulsions start to get him in...
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Not As Crazy As I Seem

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Overview

Devon Brown won’t eat in the school caf (a germ swamp). He covers his hands before opening doors, eats things in groups of four (his lucky number), and hangs up his shirts (with all their buttons buttoned) by color. Some kids say Devon’s crazy, but he knows better—these are the tricks that keep bad things from happening, and he can’t imagine giving them up. Devon calls it “controlling things.” His doctor calls it obsessive-compulsive disorder. When Devon starts at a new school, his compulsions start to get him in trouble, and before long he realizes that his only choice is to confront his behaviors and the events that trigger them. In a compelling story of growing up different, George Harrar introduces us to a boy who just might change the way we think about “crazy.”

As fifteen-year-old Devon begins mid-year at a new prestigious prep school, he is plagued by compulsions such as the need to sort things into groups of four.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Devon Brown has what his mother discreetly calls "tendencies": he eats his food in combinations of four, buttons every shirt completely before hanging it in the closet and can't stand knowing that there's a crooked poster in the biology classroom. At a new private school in a new town, he tries his best to stay inconspicuous and resists the efforts of his new shrink (who eventually diagnoses obsessive-compulsive disorder). Devon's first-person narration, especially his descriptions of sessions with his therapist, gives readers a strong sense of what it's like to live with OCD (he knows his behavior "doesn't make sense if you think about it for very long"). Harrar's (First Tiger) plotting, however, is less realistic. Devon accompanies a troubled classmate, Ben, to school after hours: while Ben spray-paints the word "Nazi" everywhere, Devon can't resist the opportunity to straighten that biology poster. The narrator is spotted and blamed, and not even his parents believe him when he says he is innocent and refuses to name the real perpetrator. Realizing that his compulsions have landed him and his parents in serious trouble, Devon throws himself into conquering his problems and in short order reveals their origins in a childhood trauma. Unfortunately, Ben's vandalism reads like a device to inspire the protagonist's self-examination, and the wholly optimistic ending comes off as scripted, too. While Devon emerges as intriguing and likable, the convincing profile does not quite cohere into a full-bodied novel. Ages 11-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Devon Brown doesn't understand why everyone has a problem with his obsession with germs, his preference for things being neat, or his tendency to eat things in groups of four. When he moves to a new school, his parents think this is a chance for him to get a new start, but he finds himself just as compulsive as ever. For the first time, however, Devon finds himself making friends—a girl who accepts his compulsions without question and a troubled boy with whom Devon finds a sort of kinship. But when his new friendships lead to trouble, Devon is forced to take a stand between betraying his friends and landing in severe trouble. This is a wonderful portrayal of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in teenagers. It is handled realistically and humorously without being patronizing or inappropriate. Devon is not cured by the conclusion of the book, but certainly is well on his way to dealing with his disorder. Any teenager with some sort of psychological disorder will find a kind of kinship with Devon, and a teenager with a friend or relative with OCD will be able to understand the disorder much better after reading this book. 2003, Houghton Mifflin, Ages 12 up.
— Amie Rose Rotruck
VOYA
Devon narrates his own story of obsessive-compulsive behavior. Isolated by his obsessions and unable to explain why he must eat items in groups of four or why he washes his hands so many times, Devon is also unwilling to change. His family has moved, and he is attending a new school. Almost accidentally, Devon makes two friends. His friendship with Ben, the purple-haired outsider, provides the catalyst for change, but his friendship with Tanya offers the strength to face his fears. The critical incident between Ben and Devon at the school is also the mechanism for Devon's parents to express themselves, an act crucial to his mental health, which they have avoided. Harrar does a wonderful job of providing hints regarding the root of Devon's disorder, even including a red herring. Devon's view of his compulsions is also well done, particularly his unwillingness to change or see a need for altering his behavior. Occasionally the prose seems choppy, but it matches Devon's personality and the character's voice. The critical incident is explored in fine detail, and the parents' perspective, as well as Devon's, is well developed. The satellite characters in Devon's world, Tanya and Ben, could perhaps use some stronger characterization, although their portrayal is not crucial to the story. The novel is a fine and entertaining story of a young man struggling with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Pair it with another treatment of the disorder, Kissing Doorknobs by Terry Spencer Hesser (Delacorte, 1998/VOYA December 1998) VOYA Codes: 4Q 3P J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12).2003, Houghton Mifflin, 224p,
— Mary Ann Harlan
KLIATT
15-year-old Devon Brown is the poster boy for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, or OCD. Among other things, Devon must eat food in multiples of four, avoid all germs (which means no eating in the high school cafeteria and even no sitting on his shrink's questionable chairs), organize his clothes by color, and repeat lists in his head. His family moves to a new town to try and give Devon a fresh start, only to find his OCD still ruling and ruining his life. His "tendencies," as his mother calls them, frustrate his parents and alienate him from his peers. Devon knows he isn't crazy; he just can't help but need to feel utterly in control of his life. At the root of his OCD lies a traumatic experience, one that becomes the initial reason Devon started to fixate on his need for control. When the school is vandalized, Devon finds himself in the middle of the drama, partially due to being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and partially due to his OCD. Thanks to the help of Dr. Wasserman, his new shrink, and Tanya, a brave new friend, Devon starts to understand that his behavior has to change. Devon has to overcome his disorder and be willing to find out who he is once the OCD is stripped away. Both funny and touching, Devon's story lets readers take an intimate glimpse into life with OCD. KLIATT Codes: J—Recommended for junior high school students. 2003, Houghton Mifflin, Graphia, 231p., Ages 12 to 15.
—Amanda MacGregor
School Library Journal
Gr 6-10-Devon Brown, 15, may be anxious, even weird, but he knows he's not crazy. He just has a fixation on the number four, an obsession about germs, and an intolerance of untidiness, all of which have afflicted him since his grandfather's death when he was eight. When his parents decide to move to the Boston area, the teen must adjust to a new private school and a new therapist. In a frank and humorous first-person narrative, he relates his midyear entrance into The Baker Academy as he copes with opinionated teachers and tentatively begins friendships with Tanya, an African-American girl, and Ben, an angry, purple-haired boy, but he shies away when they try to get closer. Despite his intelligence, Devon has a remarkable lack of self-knowledge. The crisis comes after he sees Ben spray paint the epithet "Nazi" throughout the school and takes the blame himself. It strains credulity that even in the face of his parents' profound disappointment, the harsh words of the headmaster, and two weeks' suspension, Devon refuses to implicate Ben, who is not a close friend. In a cathartic spree, he rips up the neatly buttoned shirts in his closet until his formerly distant father comes in and wraps his arms around his son, and Devon confesses he feels responsible for his grandfather's death. The positive news is that Devon can use his willpower, not a pill, to overcome his compulsive behaviors, and a rosy reunion with Tanya wraps up a novel that may have bibliotherapeutic potential.-Susan W. Hunter, Riverside Middle School, Springfield, VT Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A 15-year-old boy with OCD struggles for mental health. Obsessed with cleanliness, germs, order, and the number four, Devon Brown feels compelled to wash his hands frequently, line up his books perfectly, and eat four of everything. Hoping to give Devon a fresh start (again), his concerned parents move, hire a new therapist, and enroll Devon in private school. The story, which never develops the dramatic urgency of Harrar's Parents Wanted, gathers steam when one of Devon's new acquaintances talks him into going to the school after-hours, then defaces the property with spray paint. Devon, who accompanied the boy because he felt the need to straighten a crooked poster in the biology room, is seen at the school, accused of the crime, and suspended. The reader is supposed to see a connection between Devon's obsessions and the trouble he gets into, but the correlation is weak, and despite the intriguing topic, the protagonist never becomes more than a sum of his neuroses. (Fiction. 11-13)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780547529554
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 10/25/2004
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 1,406,645
  • Age range: 12 - 16 Years
  • File size: 158 KB

Meet the Author

George Harrar is the author of several novels and numerous short stories, one of which was chosen for the 1999 edition of The Best American Short Stories. Harrar lives in Wayland, Massachusetts, with his wife, Linda, a documentary filmmaker.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 14 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2012

    Great book

    There were times i related to the main character and felt what he felt. Also there are really funny moments. Its a book i will always remember.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2011

    Not as Crazy as I Seem

    Read this book.It's really good!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2007

    A reviewer

    This book is really good. Its about a kid with OCD and the way he does things is HILLARIOUS!!! I highly recommend it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2007

    great book

    George Harrar's book, Not As Crazy As I Seem, is about a 15 year old boy named Deving Brown who suffers from a common disease called OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). For example, he always has to have four of everything. In his lunch, he has to have four M&M¿S, have his sandwich cut into four sections, and he always has to have four carrots. Devon is always very germ conscious. For example, he doesn¿t like to touch other people¿s hands, refuses to sit on the chair at his therapist¿s office, goes through two bottles of hand sanitizer a week, and won¿t eat his lunch in the cafeteria. In his biology class, Devon always wants to fix a crooked poster, and fix the clock which is a little off thats what causes him to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when the school is vandalized! Devon finds himself in the middle of the drama, due to his OCD. But what causes his OCD is hard to believe. Both funny and touching, Devon's story lets readers go into a young adults life with OCD.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2006

    Not as Crazy as It sounds...

    A 15 years old boy, Devon Brown, suffers of Compulsive/Obsessive disorder and tries to get over it and control it so it doesn't affect his relationship with the people around him after this disorder had got him in trouble in the new city where he and his family moved to. His disorder make him obsessive about some things, like eating and doing things in multiple of fours, not seating in his doctor's couch or eat in the cafeteria because of the germs that could be in there. After and act of vandalism touch the school, and set him in the middle of the problem, he understands that he must change his behavior and meet who he really is... It's a very funny and interesting story, I would recommend it to anyone, any ages, but it should be good that people over High School grades read it, since some of the terms might be unfamiliar for people under the age of 13.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2006

    fantastic book!

    Befor i read this book i didn't know that what i have has a name. so i'm really happy i read it because it's a fantastic book and gave me so much to think about.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2006

    good book

    I really liked this book because I think it's just really different from the usual girly, teen books that I read. While I was reading it, it really got me thinking about obsessive cumpulsive disorder and how everybody has their own little quirks. This book made me more cautious about the things I do and got me wondering if I have a little obsession myself.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2006

    Not as Crazy as I Seem

    George Harrar¿s book, Not as Crazy as I Seem, is about a 15-year-old boy named Devon Brown. Devon has a disorder called OCD, or obsessive compulsive disorder. This makes Devon obsessed about certain things. For example, Devon¿s lunch always has to have four of everything. In his lunch, he has to have four M&M¿S, have his sandwich cut into four sections, and he always has to have four carrots. Devon is always very germ conscious. For example, he doesn¿t like to touch other people¿s hands, refuses to sit on the chair at his therapist¿s office, goes through two bottles of hand sanitizer a week, and won¿t eat his lunch in the cafeteria. Devon¿s OCD also manifests itself in other ways. In his biology class, Devon always wants to fix a crooked poster, and fix the clock which is a little off, and so on. Harrar later reveals that Devon¿s OCD was caused by his grandfather passing away, when Devon was younger. He had felt guilty, because he had gotten tired of his grandfather living with his family, and he had thought for a second that he wanted him to die. Devon also felt guilty about his grandfather¿s death because he had heard his heart stop beating, and when Devon placed his hand on his grandfather¿s chest, he could feel it again. Devon fell asleep and when he woke up, his grandfather was dead. Devon had felt as if he was responsible, and that¿s what caused his condition. In the story, Devon moves to a new town. He enrolls in a private school called the Baker Academy. On his first day, Devon meets a girl named Tanya, who becomes his friend. Later on, Devon meets a boy who is named Ben. Ben is a trouble-maker. On one occasion, he goes into the janitor closet during P.E. and smokes. One day, Devon goes to Ben¿s house. After a little while, Ben says he wants to go to the school to get something he had forgotten. While Devon goes and fixes the crooked poster in his biology class, Ben spray-paints swastikas all over the school. Devon gets blamed for the vandalism, and his parents start to loose trust in him. At the end of the book, Ben moves away and leaves a note to the headmaster saying that he had done the vandalism. Devon¿s parents regain their trust in him, and Devon starts dealing this with his disorder. The exposition of the book is when Devon moves to this new town, and enrolls into his new school. He meets these two kids, who become his friends. The rising action of the story is when he is bothered by the crooked poster, won¿t sit in his therapist¿s chair, and refuses to eat his lunch unless it is in fours. The rising action ends when Devon goes to the school with Ben. The climax of the story happens when Devon is blamed for the vandalism that had taken place at his school. The police went to his house, and he was suspended for two weeks. This is followed by the falling action, where the police find a can of spray paint with Devon¿s fingerprints on it. His parents lose trust in him in this part of the book. In the conclusion, Ben moves away and leaves a note in the headmaster¿s office. Devon¿s parents regain their trust in him, and Devon decides to deal with his OCD. The story seems to take place in present day. Most of the kids at Devon¿s school are pretty wealthy. Devon lives in a nice, large house that is in the wealthy part of the city. Devon always keeps the space around him very neat. His shirts are sorted, and buttoned, and put on hangers. Harrar¿s story takes place around present-day Boston. The book was well written. The best part of it was how Harrar seemed to know what people with OCD were compulsive about. He also appeared to know a lot about psychology, and what common causes for Devon¿s disorder were. The book also keeps the reader informed about why the main character, Devon, does what he does. Another good aspect of the how the book is written is that it keeps the reader constantly tuned in. Harrar¿s book, Not as Crazy as I Seem, was written very well.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2006

    Not as Crazy as I Seem

    George Harrar¿s book, Not as Crazy as I Seem, is about a 15-year-old boy named Devon Brown. Devon has a disorder called OCD, or obsessive compulsive disorder. This makes Devon obsessed about certain things. For example, Devon¿s lunch always has to have four of everything. In his lunch, he has to have four M&M¿S, have his sandwich cut into four sections, and he always has to have four carrots. Devon is always very germ conscious. For example, he doesn¿t like to touch other people¿s hands, refuses to sit on the chair at his therapist¿s office, goes through two bottles of hand sanitizer a week, and won¿t eat his lunch in the cafeteria. Devon¿s OCD also manifests itself in other ways. In his biology class, Devon always wants to fix a crooked poster, and fix the clock which is a little off, and so on. Harrar later reveals that Devon¿s OCD was caused by his grandfather passing away, when Devon was younger. He had felt guilty, because he had gotten tired of his grandfather living with his family, and he had thought for a second that he wanted him to die. Devon also felt guilty about his grandfather¿s death because he had heard his heart stop beating, and when Devon placed his hand on his grandfather¿s chest, he could feel it again. Devon fell asleep and when he woke up, his grandfather was dead. Devon had felt as if he was responsible, and that¿s what caused his condition. In the story, Devon moves to a new town. He enrolls in a private school called the Baker Academy. On his first day, Devon meets a girl named Tanya, who becomes his friend. Later on, Devon meets a boy who is named Ben. Ben is a trouble-maker. On one occasion, he goes into the janitor closet during P.E. and smokes. One day, Devon goes to Ben¿s house. After a little while, Ben says he wants to go to the school to get something he had forgotten. While Devon goes and fixes the crooked poster in his biology class, Ben spray-paints swastikas all over the school. Devon gets blamed for the vandalism, and his parents start to loose trust in him. At the end of the book, Ben moves away and leaves a note to the headmaster saying that he had done the vandalism. Devon¿s parents regain their trust in him, and Devon starts dealing this with his disorder. The exposition of the book is when Devon moves to this new town, and enrolls into his new school. He meets these two kids, who become his friends. The rising action of the story is when he is bothered by the crooked poster, won¿t sit in his therapist¿s chair, and refuses to eat his lunch unless it is in fours. The rising action ends when Devon goes to the school with Ben. The climax of the story happens when Devon is blamed for the vandalism that had taken place at his school. The police went to his house, and he was suspended for two weeks. This is followed by the falling action, where the police find a can of spray paint with Devon¿s fingerprints on it. His parents lose trust in him in this part of the book. In the conclusion, Ben moves away and leaves a note in the headmaster¿s office. Devon¿s parents regain their trust in him, and Devon decides to deal with his OCD. The story seems to take place in present day. Most of the kids at Devon¿s school are pretty wealthy. Devon lives in a nice, large house that is in the wealthy part of the city. Devon always keeps the space around him very neat. His shirts are sorted, and buttoned, and put on hangers. Harrar¿s story takes place around present-day Boston. The book was well written. The best part of it was how Harrar seemed to know what people with OCD were compulsive about. He also appeared to know a lot about psychology, and what common causes for Devon¿s disorder were. The book also keeps the reader informed about why the main character, Devon, does what he does. Another good aspect of the how the book is written is that it keeps the reader constantly tuned in. Harrar¿s book, Not as Crazy as I Seem, was written very well.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2005

    good read

    This was a good book... it gave a good view into the mind of someone with OCD, without making him sound like a complete freak. OCD is more common than people think, and this book, although a work of fiction, gives the reader a realistic perspective of how an OCD person thinks and feels.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2005

    okay

    i hated how the author made having complusive disorder bad. it is not that bad as long as you control it. anywho i liked Ben he was cool. Purple hair rox!!!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2004

    good book

    this book was pretty good. i liked devon a lot. he was such a cool character. i recommend this book to anyone.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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