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BOOK REVIEWS, Contemporary Realistic Fiction, Young Adult Readers

CRAZY by Han Nolan

This is an amazing book from viewpoint of middle school boy whose mother has died and whose father is seriously mentally ill.  In flashback we learn that Jason’s mother was the one who  provided what emotional and physical stability there was in their family.  Following her unexpected death Jason, at 15, feels responsible for taking care of and protecting his father from authorities who might separate

As the stress of the unreasonable position in which Jason finds himself mounts and his father’s illness severely deteriorates Jason finds himself inexplicably calling attention to himself at school.  He is put into a “therapy-type” group of fellow students with the school counselor due to his behavior.

Though skeptical at first, eventually he begins to open up to the other kids and they find out about his father.  What follows is their disclosure of his situation—rightfully so—to the counselor and the ensuing intervention of the System.  The story is accurate in both its description of the mental health/child welfare/psychological portrayal of the kids and of the adults involved.

Jason’s concerns about his own sanity in relation to his father’s illness as well as his anger (and consequent guilt over the anger) surrounding losing his mother and having to deal with his father and his father’s illness are superbly addressed.

The voice of the young narrator is remarkably genuine. It’s an extremely moving, forceful book which will resonate with those who have dealt with any of the related situations and will give new insight to those who have not.


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