|image from Barnes & Noble|
I ordered Crazy by Han Nolan through my Scholastic Book Club in April. My students order every month and I typically get a few books to read and add to either my own library or the classroom library. Initially I was pulled in by the cover- simple yet appealing. Scholastic's "about this book" also intrigued me.
An Incredibly Powerful Novel About Love, Loss, and Friendship!
A funny and touching novel about a boy in trouble—and the friendships that save his life!
With a dead mother, a crazy father, and voices in his head, 15-year-old Jason just wants to make it through high school unnoticed—until something happens that he can't keep to himself. Forced to participate in group therapy sessions, and eventually turned over to foster care, Jason finds himself surrounded by people who care. Suddenly, he can no longer hide the pain of his family under the cloak of anonymity. An unforgettable, heartbreaking, and ultimately uplifting story.
Some mature content.
Since I always get a pretty good book club haul, Crazy got added to the TBR pile and promptly forgotten. Out of sight, out of mind. Damn. Eventually I started packing up books for the big move this month, and my TBR pile got dusted off. I decided to leave out a few books to read in the coming weeks and box up the rest. Crazy was added to the top of the list and I'm very glad it was.
Based on the blurb from Scholastic, I was excepting a story that would draw me in and keep me engaged. I am happy to say that Crazy did just that. Han Nolan did an excellent job of framing the story-- we begin the story with Jason, our protagonist, and the voices in his head. We become one of those voices and he addressed the reader as "You". Told from Jason's point of view (with a little help from his voices) we discover that he is invisible- or so he thought.
Having a rough go of it, Jason is alone as he navigates through high school. His mom is dead and his dad is crazy. Literally. Jason begins to act out, subtly (and quite possibly, subconsciously) and gets noticed. His teachers are beginning to question and talk. Sent to "lunch sessions" with the school psychiatrist and a group of his peers, a series of events are set in to motion that he has no control over. Jason is suddenly on a self-discovery roller coaster, in high speed. He must learn to accept what is happening in his life right now, as well as come to terms with his past. Battling himself and those around him, Jason must learn to let it go and accept his life and help being offered.
Simply put: I loved this book. It took a bit of getting used to the 'voices' in Jason's head who popped in for a word here and there, but once I got over that, I was totally engrossed in the story. I thought that it was honest- it showed mental illness in a very raw form, along side the heartbreak that it causes within the family. Nolan also did a phenomenal job of portraying real emotion. Jason and his friends- Shelby, Haze, and Pete- were often open and exposed throughout the story. Grief, fear, anger, joy, relief, confusion, guilt... the list goes on. I felt each emotion as I read the story. It was, as Scholastic said, heartbreaking and uplifting.
Crazy showed the inside of mental illness, 'the system', friendship, codependency, and the tough stuff in life. Unlike many YA novels that sugar coat such topics, Crazy was honest. Not everything in life is roses and fairy tales- and teenagers go through tough stuff too. Nolan showed that to readers in an appropriate but honest fashion. Crazy delivered, for sure.
write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow