Crazy by Han Nolan
Jason's mother is dead and his father is crazy. His mother died after a suffering from a stroke and his father, who has had delusional episodes his entire adult life, is now off his meds and Jason is trying to keep it together, keep his dad fed and get him back on his meds while coping with general high school issues, and he's not handling things particularly well. One of his coping mechanisms is his audience of imaginary friends. Jason watches his life like a movie, and his inner monologue is the studio audience watching along with him.
But his coping mechanisms aren't working as his father's condition deteriorates, and Jason is assigned to a support group that meets with the school counselor and three other students. The story follows a pretty predictable arc from here (Jason learns to trust his friends, social services gets involved, etc). Crazy is a fairly typical problem novel, but that's okay. Typically, I don't enjoy these types of books. They tend to be preachy or cheesy like a Lifetime movie or overly gritty and shocking, but Nolan strikes a good balance in this story. She pulls just enough punches so the readers get a good, emotional ride through the story but aren't left completely wrecked by the end. Looking through the descriptions of her other books, it seems like they follow a similar pattern.
I read this book in two sittings. Nolan's prose is very easy to get into, and I really liked Jason's voice and the descriptions of his father's mental illness were interesting (the path his delusions followed), so while this sort of novel isn't really my cup of tea, I would definitely recommend her books to the kids at my library who like Ellen Hopkins-esque stories (although this book isn't nearly as gritty as a Hopkins book). Crazy is also one of the nominees for the 2013 Young Readers Choice Awards, so if you live in the Pacific Northwest and your school or public library participates in the YRCA program, consider checking this book out.
This is cross posted at my blog (Library Lass) Adventures in Reading.
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