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Crazy [Paperback]

Han Nolan
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Feb. 8 2012
Powerful fiction from National Book Award-winning author Han Nolan. Fifteen-year-old Jason has fallen on 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. Both heartbreaking and funny, Crazy provides more of the intense and compelling characters Han Nolan is praised for.


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* "Nolan leavens this haunting but hopeful story with spot-on humor and a well developed cast of characters, and she shows with moving clarity the emotional costs of mental illness, especially on teens forced to parent their own parents."--Booklist, starred review

* "In this distinct and effective blend of sorrow and humor, Jason, once invisible to his classmates and used to the chaos at home, suffers the effects of change when he's enrolled in a lunch-hour group therapy with other wayward teens and his father is taken away...he slowly learns, with the help of his new friends and foster parents, normalcy and how to care for himself first."--Kirkus Reviews, starred review

About the Author

HAN NOLAN is the author of the National Book Award winner Dancing on the Edge, the National Book Award finalist Send Me Down a Miracle, Born Blue, and several other acclaimed novels. She and her husband live in the South. 

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4.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Teens Read Too Nov. 5 2010
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.

Reviewed by: Sally Kruger, aka "Readingjunky"
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars  22 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Read May 28 2013
By H.Rose - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I like books that come to a happy ending and I would recommend this book for teenagers and I rated this high because it is just and awesome book
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Crazy Beautiful Sept. 30 2010
By Angela - Published on
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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Greek Chorus Is Crazy Aug. 11 2010
By Ken C. - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Seasoned YA writer Han Nolan is back with a book tackling a tough topic (mental illness) with sensitivity and humor. Humor, you ask? The conceit she has happily stumbled upon takes a page out of drama-writing school as she gives "voice" to five characters the young protagonist, 15-year-old Jason, hears in his head. As the real-time action and dialogue unfold, these voices inject their own opinions like a modern Greek chorus, and Nolan uses their names followed by the colon, just as in a play script.

Jason lost his mother to a stroke and now is contending with a father who suffers from a swiftly-deteriorating mental illness. In a house with little food, heat, or cleanliness, the situation becomes dire and the "voices" become shrill. Jason, who invented the voices "for company" in 5th grade, knows them as Fat Bald Guy (FBG), Sexy Lady, Aunt Bee, Crazy Glue, and Laugh Track. Each has its own personality, by turns sarcastic, critical, supportive, nurturing, mocking, irrelevant, and funny. They help him get by as crisis follows crisis, and at times amuse the reader as well.

The narrative arc of the book follows attempts by Jason's high school friends -- Shelby, Pete, Haze, and school psychologist Dr. Gomez -- to help both Jason and his dad. Also in the mix are foster families, courts, and hospitals. But the real attraction is not so much the plot as the characterization. And, of course, the essential question: just who is crazy here and who gets to define what it looks like? Overall, this is a creative and compelling outing for Nolan which will appeal to readers interested in psychology, social workers, and teens under duress.
5.0 out of 5 stars A different perspective on the subject of mental illness. July 1 2014
By Shawna Briseno - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
Young adult book about teen drama-check. Mental illness as the main focus-check. Been there, done that, right? Except this one is insanely (bad choice of words, I know) different. In this refreshingly unique novel the tables are turned and this time it’s a child who has to cope with his parent’s mental illness.

Jason can’t remember a time when his life wasn’t overshadowed by his dad’s odd behavior. Going as far back as age six when his dad tried to bury him alive “to protect him”, it’s always been a part of their lives. However, when Jason’s mom dies unexpectedly things begin to rapidly deteriorate. She was the one who always held things together, and without her their lives start to spin out of control. Money is tight, food is scarce, and their house is falling apart. Despite his best efforts to hold things together and keep their way of life a secret, his grades and behavior at school are being affected. When he’s sent to group therapy, he finds comfort in an unlikely group of friends who are living with family issues of their own. In a short span of time he’s forced to confront his own feelings of grief at his mother’s death, guilt at not being able to protect his dad, and fear that he, too, is losing his mind. He has to learn to accept help from others and to be a kid again after being the adult in his family for so long. There’s a hospitalization and a confrontation with social services before everything is finally resolved. Along the way, Jason is kept company by running commentary from a cast of characters he has created in his mind to help him cope with his dysfunctional life.

This was an amazing story from beginning to end. It could have been another run-of-the-mill story of teen angst and drama but Han Nolan inserts humor and emotion into every page. The ever-present conversation going on in Jason’s head has the potential to be annoying and distracting but instead is entirely believable, and you can see how that’s his one little lifeline to sanity. He’s never really confronted his grief at losing his mother, and he eventually realizes he harbors a lot of anger as well for being forced into the position he’s in. The author skillfully captures the voice of a young teenage boy in the reversed role of being the parent. It’s also a safe read for teenagers without speaking down to them, which is hard to come by these days. Five stars for me!
5.0 out of 5 stars AMAZING Dec 27 2013
By Amber - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I'm very particular on what I like and don't like and this I like. It was so heart felt and sweet.
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