Sunday, May 16, 2010

Review: Crazy by Han Nolan

Crazy Crazy by Han Nolan

** To be published September 13, 2010 by Harcourt Children's Books***

Overview from the publisher:
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.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was immediately drawn to this book when I read the description online. You rarely hear about books that really delve into mental illness from a YA perspective. And this book really delivered. I enjoyed it immensely.

I love the writing style that Nolan employed for this novel. By utilizing the 'imaginary friends' who represent parts of the main character, Jason, the author gives us a full and integrated look at Jason's internal viewpoint. At first, I was worried this interplay between voices would be distracting but I ultimately found it to be charming and effective. It ultimately made the book all the more powerful for me.

One strength of this book was how it gave a holistic view to mental illness and its impact to family and community. The mentally ill are often typecast but this book really gives a full picture of mental illness and the impact it has. The book really gives light to the difficulties experienced by family members of those suffering from a mental illness in a humane and realistic way.

I really loved the underlying message of not trying to do it all by yourself. Its something that I think gives the book a great deal of power. Without being preachy, the author makes it clear that we need a community around us to face the good AND bad times. That you cannot always do it alone. That relying on others can save you and those you love. I think it was incorporated into the novel very well and sends a great message to all readers. I definitely recommend this for YA readers.

In the end, this book truly is a heartbreaking yet funny look at mental illness, family and friendship. I really enjoyed it and I think anyone interested in mental health issues would find this a good, solid read.

(Attention: I received the galley proofs of this title from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for review.)

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