Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Nolan, Han. 2010. CRAZY. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 9780152051099 [Suggested Grade Levels 8-12]
Jason believes he has managed to keep his life a secret. His mother has died and his father has once again succumbed to mental illness. With no money, no food, and no family, it is up to Jason be the provider. For support, he relies on a group of imaginary friends for guidance and companionship, preferring them to reality. Yet, sudden vocal impulses at school place him in mandatory group therapy with three other students coping with life issues. Jason maintains a distance, protecting his father and their life, yet it isn’t until his father disappears that Jason calls on others for help and they see firsthand his life of hunger and poverty. When Social Services step in, Jason begins to realize that he need not be responsible for everything other than himself. More importantly, he realizes what true friends are and the imaginary friends slowly disappear.
The emotional turmoil and conflict that take place in this novel will elicit thoughtful contemplation from readers. The emotional isolation of Jason is strongly realistic and will resonate with today’s young adults. The smooth writing is initially heavily interspersed with the dialogue among the imaginary friends. These dialogues are unique and appealing providing humor and other perspectives on Jason’s struggles. Yet the characters slowly fade away as Jason becomes settled both physically and mentally.
The issues developed in this novel and related books support classroom discussion on numerous issues relevant to young adults: personal responsibility, reliance on others, role of child versus adult, caring for others, and more.
Other books for teens about emotional growth:
Wesselhoeft, Conrad. ADIOS, NIRVANA. ISBN 9780547368955
Barnes, John. TALES OF THE MADMAN UNDERGROUND ISBN 9780670060818
By Christine J. Rayl