Reviewed by Sally Kruger aka "Readingjunky" for TeensReadToo.com
Memories from before his mother died and before his father went crazy are the only things keeping Jason going, but his grasp on reality may be slipping. A cast of characters inhabit his mind; their voices constantly whisper commentary on his every thought and action.
Jason's life is a complicated mess. He's trying to keep up his grades, write for the advice column of the school newspaper, and keep an eye on his father. It had always been his mother's responsibility to keep track of his father's erratic behavior, but she's gone. Now, Jason is in charge of damage control when his father dons his Greek war helmet as he rants and raves against the Furies who he believes killed his wife and are out to destroy him.
The stress of juggling both his own life and his father's has Jason talking to the voices in his own mind. Giving him advice, criticism, and sometimes comfort are characters named Crazy Glue, Fat Bald Guy with a Mustache, Aunt Bee, Sexy Lady, and Laugh Track. They are his only "friends" - until he joins a therapy group at school and finds he does have other people who are there to provide support and encouragement.
It is not easy for Jason to open up to strangers, but when his fellow group members pitch in to help when it is revealed that his father has stolen a multi-million dollar violin, Jason learns the true value of friendship. When things get so bad that his only recourse is to admit his father needs medical help, his new friends continue to cheer him on.
CRAZY is the story of a young teen's struggle to keep together what's left of his family. Author Han Nolan uses the unique voices in Jason's head to vividly portray the emotional torment he experiences as he watches his own father crumbling before him. Readers will come to know and love Jason and admire his courage and determination to hold it all together under unbearable circumstances.
Crazy is just what the titles leads you to believe it will be, absolutely crazy! Jason's mother dies, and he is left to care for his mentally ill father all on this own. He's keeping it to himself because he refuses to let his father be locked up. To keep it a secret, Jason's learned not to have any friends, so to keep himself company, he's invited an amusing cast of characters in his own head. There is "Fat Bald Guy With Mustache" who is funny and series, "Aunt Bea" (from Andy Griffith) who is the sweet grandmotherly type of influence, "Sexy Lady" who spends most of the book reassuring Jason how hot he is, and Crazy Glue who is the teenager who tends to push Jason to do things he doesn't want to.
This book was a lot of fun, and although it had the heavy topic of a father with a mental disorder, and a teen who ends up in foster care, it still moved along at a quick pace and never really felt to heavy or emotionally draining. The words really flowed through this story and I would find myself sitting down to read for just a few minutes and having to make myself put it down after a full hour has past.
Jason is a great lead character, strong, independent, and yet still has to learn that sometimes you can't take care of everything all on your own. The "group" of real kids that Jason meets in therapy were a great cast and so much fun. They were a ragtag crew that I would have liked to hang out with when I was in school.
It was very easy to relate with one or all of the characters in this book. Even if you didn't/don't have to deal with the same issues they do, the point is, we all have something going on in our lives that we sometimes need help getting through. Overall, this was a fast and very enjoyable read and I will be looking for more books by Han Nolan in the future.
This is my first Han Nolan book although I think I have at least one other hanging around waiting to be read. I wasn't sure what to make of this at first and it took me until about halfway through to really get into it. That's not to say I didn't like it before that, I did. Jason is as likable as you can get. All of the characters are really.
I'm not at all knowledgeable in the subject of mental illness. I have no personal experience with it and I was a little anxious about how realistic this would turn out to be for me because of that. In the end i had nothing to worry about, I could see how this all could play out. It's probably playing out in homes across the country right this moment.
Nolan did a great, great job expressing how one thing for someone can turn out to be many totally different things for other people. The friends Jason made were fantastic, all realistic and not contrived. A lot of authors, in a situation where a character finds new friends, like to make everything go great and in the real world this doesn't happen. Friends argue, they may fight, and they get over it. This was execited in a wonderful way in my opinion.
When I first flipped through the book and saw the way it was written I rolled my eyes. The format is like reading through a movie script. Then I remembering thinking I would have books in verse and how some of them have turned out to be favorites of mine and I shoved my thoughts aside. This turned out to be very easy to read. The audience in Jason's heads is not obtrusive in any way and gives so much to the story.
At the very least I'm looking forward to reading another of Nolan's books.