Crazy

by Han Nolan

National Book Award winner Han Nolan brings us a powerful story of a young boy’s intriguing method of emotional survival as his father slowly succumbs to mental illness.

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN-13/ EAN: 9780152051099
  • ISBN-10: 0152051090
  • Pages: 352
  • Publication Date: 09/13/2010
  • Carton Quantity: 12

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About the Book
About the Author
Excerpts
Reviews
  • About the Book
    Fifteen-year-old Jason has fallen upon 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 as he stumbles along trying not to draw attention to his father’s deteriorating condition.

    Both heartbreaking and funny, CRAZY lives up to the intense and compelling characters Han Nolan is praised for. As Jason himself teeters on the edge of insanity, Nolan uncovers the clever coping system he develops for himself and throws him a lifeline in the guise of friendship.
  • About the Author
  • Excerpts
    Chapter One

    Ever since the fifth grade, I’ve had this imaginary audience in my head who follow me around and watch me like I’m the star in a movie. I talk to them, and yeah, they talk to me, but I know they aren’t really there. I’m very clear about that. Anyway, I don’t think I’m the only fifteen-year-old who does this. It’s our culture. It seems everybody is famous now. You can get yourself on TV for doing almost anything, the stupider the better. Everyone thinks his or her life is movie worthy.

    So now you’re here. This is my honors English class we’re in right now. Don’t ask me how I got into honors. Okay, I know this classroom is pretty drab. There aren’t nearly enough windows, but it’s an old school. They’re building a new one over on Clement.

    I haven’t named you yet. I’ll just call you You for now. Maybe you’ll just be part of my laugh track, a body filling one of the seats in my theater but having no singular voice. We’ll see. If you are part of the laugh track, you get to do more than laugh. You get to say, "Uh-oh," and whisper loudly, "Isn’t that a shame." You can even cry. But maybe you’ll become one of the outspoken ones, the ones with a personality, like the fat bald guy with a mustache who sits in the back of the theater writing movie reviews. I call him FBG with a mustache, for short. There’s also Sexy Lady, who’s supposed to just tell me I’m hot all the time. She usually has on a low-cut red dress. Then there’s Aunt Bee—yep, the Aunt Bee from the old Andy Griffith Show. You always wondered what happened to her. Well, here she is, in my head! She’s very sympathetic. And finally, there’s the kid who Krazy Glued the fingers of his left hand together. I just call him Crazy Glue.

    CRAZY GLUE:
    Boring! His life is boring. Get out now while you can.

    SEXY LADY:
    Oh, but lately it’s been heating up again. He was just in a lull.

    Yeah, a nice, safe four-year lull. I don’t like this new exposure I’ve been getting. I liked being invisible.

    AUNT BEE: That’s most understandable, poor boy. You’ve had it very rough in the past. I remember the time your father woke you up in the middle of the night. He had on that horrible mask.

    FBG WITH A MUSTACHE: It wasn’t a mask, my dear. It was a helmet, a Spartan helmet. It was a replica, not the real thing, made of steel with a mane running over the top and down the back of it. Quite authentic-looking, though. It had real horse hair.

    AUNT BEE: Well, it covered most of his face, and he was frightening coming into Jason’s room like that, then scooping him up and taking him outside to bury him. He dropped him right down into that hole he’d dug and started shoveling the dirt on top of him. Oh dear, that was so horrifying.

    CRAZY GLUE (ACTING AS JASON): "Daddy, stop it! I’m scared. I don’t like it down here. It’s cold. I want Mommy. I want Mommy!"

    FBG WITH A MUSTACHE (ACTING AS DAD):
    "It’s okay. Just stay there, Jason. I’m covering you over so they’ll never find you."

    CRAZY GLUE: You should have given my lines to Sexy Lady or Aunt Bee. Why should I always get stuck being you?

    You’re the closest to my age and I was going for a little realism.

    AUNT BEE: It’s too real. I wish you’d stop reliving that night over and over. It can’t be good for you.

    I was only six. I screamed and screamed. I was scared out of my wits. Dad thought the Furies were after us. Mom said he was just trying to protect me. That’s all.

    CRAZY GLUE:
    It figures I missed all the good stuff. And what are Furies, anyway?

    FBG WITH A MUSTACHE: They’re part of Greek and Roman mythology. They’re the goddesses of the underworld. You’d love them. They have a mass of snakes for hair and blood running from their eyes. They come up through the ground, seeking revenge for people’s crimes. They’ll hunt you down until you’re driven mad with their chase.

    CRAZY GLUE: Awesome!

    I didn’t think so. The Furies always scared me. They still do. Anyway, my mom heard my screams and she saved me before I was buried alive, but Dad was taken away. He stayed away a long time. That was my fault. I’ve always felt it was my fault.

    AUNT BEE: Well, dear boy, you couldn’t let him bury you alive, could you?

    SEXY LADY: I think you’d look hot in that helmet.

    I hate that helmet. Any time I see Dad wearing it, I know he’s sick again—like now.

    CRAZY GLUE: I would have loved to have seen you scratching and scrambling and clawing your way out of that grave. Cool beans! Shows what you know.

    AUNT BEE: It’s no wonder, then, what happened in fifth grade. I mean, how you reacted.

    LAUGH TRACK: Uh-oh! Here it comes.

    My best friend turned on me! Just because I got the ball away from him and scored the only points in the soccer game, he got all jealous and got the gang to help him flush my head in the toilet.

    LAUGH TRACK: (Laughter).

    CRAZY GLUE: A swirlie! Jason got a swirlie! Cried like a baby, too. Called for his mommy. Made a total fool of himself.

    AUNT BEE:
    Of course he cried, and you would, too. It was his father burying him all over again.

    CRAZY GLUE: No friends after that—just us. Four and a half years now, and still not a single friend. I don’t need friends. Friends are dangerous.

    FBG WITH A MUSTACHE: What was it you and your soccer buddies called yourselves?

    Fili Mou. It’s Greek for "my friends."

    FBG WITH A MUSTACHE: That’s right, but you spelled it "F-E-E-L-Y M-O-O." You were the Feely Moos.

    Don’t remind me. The whole school picked on me after that swirlie. I’m sorry my grandma died back then, but I sure was glad she left my parents her house and we moved to Virginia at the end of the year. I got to start all over.

    CRAZY GLUE:
    Start all over? You went into hiding! Bor-ring!

    SEXY LADY: But now, after all these years of trying to make yourself invisible, you’ve been caught. You’re beginning to come out into the open again. I see how the girls are starting to take notice of you with your dark curly locks and those blue, blue eyes. Tall, dark, and handsome, that’s how we like ’em. You’re like a young Greek god.

    I’m not coming out in the open—not on purpose, anyway. It was just a slip-up, just a few things getting out of control, but I’ll fix it. I’ll straighten everything out.

    CRAZY GLUE: Fat chance. Anyway, you’re more interesting this way.

    SEXY LADY: You’ve got that innocent, wouldn’t-hurt-a-fly look about you. Girls feel safe around you. You’re way too thin, but with a little meat on your bones . . . Oh, to be a sophomore in high school again.

    Okay, be quiet, everyone. Mrs. Silky’s talking to me.

    "Jason, would you stay a minute after the bell, please."

    "Woo-ooh, Ja-son!"

    Great, the whole class thinks I’m a dweeb now.

    CRAZY GLUE: Yeah, like they didn’t already.

    LAUGH TRACK: Uh-oh! (A twitter of laughter).

    You, you might as well sit down and watch the show. Later you can decide what kind of audience member you’d like
  • Reviews
    "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."—Bookliststarred 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

    "Nolan balances weighty subject matter with humor, offering an intelligent portrayal of a boy's slow release of burdens too heavy to carry alone."—Publishers Weekly

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