Wednesday, 26 January 2011
Crazy by Han Nolan
Provided as part of an ARC blog tour by Good Golly Miss Holly (so I didn't get to keep it)
September 2010 (US), Harcourt
Summary from Harcout
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.
From the blurb I knew this would be a hard hitting book. It was. There were so many times when I got choked up with Jason's emotions. He has to deal with so much on his own, all the time, that he isn't aware of the help that authorities and new found friends can give him. He doesn't have the perspective that outsiders have of his father's mental health. He isn't that eager for help either, he fights every change that happens - and he doesn't always achieve success in his battles. I feel that the book is a good portrayal of teen behaviour. It shows how tough life is for a teen carer. I think it shows that although in many ways Jason is more mature than his peers, he still lacks being able to step away from a situation and figure out that the best outcome wouldn't necessarily be his own ideal outcome.
The way Jason's imaginary friends are presented did make the book harder for me to read: but I must stress that I wasn't feeling well when I read that book, so even normal reading isn't easy to do. I did like all their comments, because they provided Jason with an outside view of the situation. Deep down inside he knew some of the reality of his life, and using imaginary characters made it easier to accept. As he slowly forms friendships in the odd little therapy group, the input from those imaginary friends reduces. Jason learns he can lean on others for support, that they care for him. Sometimes he puts his foot in his mouth (ok, I might be being generous with 'sometimes'. He does it a lot). He is very quick to go on the defensive, and doesn't always realise that everyone actually is trying to help him.
The book does stir up the fact that what the authorities can provide for people in Jason's situation isn't always ideal, and isn't always what should be provided. Yet it demonstrates that with a good support network pretty much anything can be realised. Jason's story shows just how harsh life can be, and yet the people who face the most challenges in life are the ones who prosper and gain the most maturity and insight of the world. It doesn't hold back on details, and life often doesn't have a happy ending. But it is essential to have support from somewhere, otherwise progress can't be made. Jason made so much progress that I was choking up with joy at the end. I'm putting this on my own personal wish list.