Thursday, October 14, 2010

Crazy by Han Nolan

"Crazy" by Han Nolan

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books (September 13, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0152051090
  • ISBN-13: 978-0152051099

Fifteen-year-old Jason has fallen upon bad times—his mother has died and his father has succumbed to mental illness. As he tries to hold his crazy father and their crumbling home together, Jason relies on a host of imaginary friends for guidance as he stumbles along trying not to draw attention to his father’s deteriorating condition.

Both heartbreaking and funny, CRAZY lives up to the intense and compelling characters Han Nolan is praised for. As Jason himself teeters on the edge of insanity, Nolan uncovers the clever coping system he develops for himself and throws him a lifeline in the guise of friendship.

At the end of this book I was a bit angry and couldn't believe that it ended as it did, but after a day I look back and don't know why I was so angry as the ending didn't matter as much as I made it out to matter. The beautiful thing about this book is how Han Nolan describes feelings. I felt anger, sadness, isolation, and that sick feeling in the bottom of my stomach of having a responsibility that shouldn't be mine. When Han described Jason's house as being cold, I felt the cold and emptiness; a house in shambles after the woman who made it so lively has passed. I imagined the cobwebbed photographs, the piles of neglected belongings, jewelry, makeup and clothes left in the same spots before she had died. The feeling of mourning and sadness was so powerful that when there were spouts of happy situations, I was smiling ear to ear for Jason and his friends and was so relieved that they caught a break. That is some good character development, my friends.

I have kept books about mental illness at an arm's length because I grew up around people with mental illnesses and even had to go to therapy myself on how to deal with those people who had mental illnesses. In a sense, Crazy is just like that. Jason has to take care of his dad and in turn is on the brink of insanity himself. Funny how that happens! I expected near the end of the book that we would find out that Jason was the one who was actually crazy the whole time and kind of hoped for it, but the book took another turn. It was a story of how someone who had a loving family went to having no family and then discovering how to create a new family in times of desperation. It was also a story of a the foster care system and reminded me so much of certain friends that I had in high school. The foster care system in the story isn't as intense as the one in real life, as Jason was able to stay with caring people, but did have a hint of truth when Jason was stabbed by another foster care kid. 

I would recommend this book to anyone of all ages, it is a tough topic to talk about, but I think it has an important message. Our children should not have the weight of the world on their shoulders. They will have enough of that when they reach adulthood.

I give this book three out of three book geeks. It's an average read, but I wouldn't want to miss out on reading it. 

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