Teen Book Review

Crazy by Han NolanWith the wild temperature fluctuations we've been having lately, do you ever get the feeling that nature’s become a little bit unhinged?  Maybe, maybe not.  But if you want to learn a little bit about how dangerous and disturbing mental illness and insanity really is, try out Crazy by Han Nolan

When Jason was only six years old, his father woke him up in the middle of the night and tried to bury him alive.  Ever since then, Jason has been worried that he’s going to follow in his father’s footsteps.  It doesn't help that he has a set of voices in his head that he listens to and that give him advice.  When Jason’s mother dies, suddenly it’s up to him to take care of his father and himself, and he is simply not up to the task. 

When Jason reaches out to Haze, Pete and Shelby -- the other students he goes to group therapy with, they do what Jason has been trying to avoid; they report the situation to the authorities and get him help.  While Jason’s circumstances improve, he feels betrayed by those he trusted. Will he be allowed to see his father again, or will they take him away forever?  And if Jason does follow in his father’s footsteps and goes nuts, who will save him? 

You can’t help but feel for Jason throughout this novel.  The one thing he wants is to be in control, the exact opposite of his father.  But in the end, as a student, there is very little he finds himself in control of except himself (and even that is dubious). Readers will feel his desperation as the situation at home becomes more difficult, and his betrayal when his friends help him, even though he knows they did the right thing. The voices in Jason’s head are great characters in and of themselves (and at times they seem more real than Jason’s real friends). The end of the book is particularly gripping, as Jason comes to learn some great truths about himself that will be very obvious to the readers from the beginning. This story is a great problem novel that can help in dealing with grief and anger over a parent’s death or disease.

Crazy is recommended for mid- to late-teen readers.  Check it out along with other books by Han Nolan at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library Teen Space or your local branch of the DC Public Library today.

-- Brandon Digwood