What would it be like to live with mentally ill parent? What would it be like to hear voices in your head as you try to keep your life from falling apart? Jason Papadopoulos–and the voices of Fat Bald Guy with a Mustache, Sexy Lady, Crazy Glue, Aunt Bee, and the Laugh Track–can tell you all about it in Crazy (Scholastic 2010) by Han Nolan.
Ever since his mother died, Jason is the only one left to care for his father. His dad is convinced that Jason is the Greek leader of the Argonauts and that the Furies are about to kill him. They no longer have heat in their home, and there is no more food in the house.
At school, Jason has always tried to be invisible, but his recent actions have been drawing unwanted attention. (For some reason his English teacher did not appreciate the symbolic gesture of writing only the middle of every word.) He finds himself sent to the school psychologist for a lunch group session with three other students. Jason vows to keep quiet, but finds himself sharing more and more as life at home spirals out of control.
Yes, this is a story about mental illness, but it is so much more. More than anything else, it is a story about friendship. Jason learns to trust Shelby, Haze, and Pete and to accept their offers of help. Once life with his dad crosses the line (in an incident involving a broken mirror and a stolen Stradivarius), Jason has to learn to let go of his dad. Once his dad is committed to the hospital, Jason is placed with a foster family. He no longer has to do it all on his own, but can he accept the fate he is given?
I found much to love about this book. I could understand Jason’s desperation to keep his family’s secrets. I admired his dedication to his father and wanted him to find some sort of stability. Shelby, Pete and Haze add their unique voices to Jason’s life as well. At first I was distracted by the voices in Jason’s head that kept interrupting the narrative. I wanted to do impersonations as I read. As I got used to them, they added multiple points of view all going on in Jason’s head at the same time.