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4.4 33
by Han Nolan

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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


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.


Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"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," explains 15-year-old Jason, who narrates this intense novel from National Book Award Medalist Nolan (Dancing on the Edge). But imagined friends can't help Jason with the problem he inherited after his mother's death: taking care of a mentally ill father, whose condition is worsening. Structured as a conversation between Jason and his outspoken internal chorus (which includes sympathetic Aunt Bee from the Andy Griffith Show, the antagonistic Crazy Glue, and even a laugh track), the novel draws readers inside the psyche of a troubled teenager to experience the chaos, panic, and isolation he feels each day. When his father disappears, Jason risks soliciting help from a group of newfound friends from school. Some readers may feel overwhelmed by the constant interruptions from Jason's internal voices, yet the cacophony underscores Jason's frustration and helplessness. Nolan balances weighty subject matter with humor, offering an intelligent portrayal of a boy's slow release of burdens too heavy to carry alone. Ages 12–up. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Janis Flint-Ferguson
Fifteen-year-old Jason Papadoupolis has recurring nightmares about being buried alive—by his father. The truly horrifying part is that they are not just nightmares, they are a real childhood memory. Jason's father has struggled with mental illness his entire life, but for all of Jason's life, his mother has helped keep the family together. Now, with his mother dead, Jason has had to maneuver through his father's delusions without support. Jason is tired of being alone. There are voices in his head that have helped him manage his life, but Jason is now speaking out for himself and that lands him in group therapy with Haze, Pete and Shelby. Shelby is a short, freckled girl whose mother is dying of ALS and Jason finds himself oddly attracted to her, oddly because he has never before had a girlfriend or even these kinds of feelings. As Mr. Papadoupolis slips deeper into his mental illness, the four classmates band together. Jason learns more about his friends and the difficulties with which they too are dealing. But in the end, Jason needs more support than even his friends can provide. Nolan's novel takes readers deep into the world of mental illness where the conversations can seem so imaginative and the dysfunction can be so deadly. In the midst of his father's crisis, Jason is struck with the identity issues that all young adults face: "Who am I?" More frighteningly, Jason also must ask himself "Am I crazy, too?" His raw emotions and outbursts are both humorous and poignant; readers cannot help but want there to be a resolution for Jason and his father. Picking up where Sonya Sones left off in Stop Pretending, Jason's story takes readers into a darker reality where solutions are very complex. Reviewer: Janis Flint-Ferguson
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—At age six, Jason's mentally ill father tried to bury him alive. Now 15, Jason is left alone to care for the man. They live in squalor, and the teen is in constant fear for his father's (and his own) safety. When he begins to act erratically at school, he's sent to group therapy. There he meets three other kids with screwed-up families. Though he begins to trust and love them, he keeps his father's illness a secret. When the truth comes out, his father is hospitalized and Jason is sent to foster care. He discovers, guiltily, what it's like to be a little normal. The chemistry among members of the group calls to mind John Barnes's extraordinary Tales of the Madman Underground (Viking, 2009), and these characters sparkle. Nolan writes with her usual combination of ease and gravitas. The action moves briskly, especially in light of the serious mood. Jason's voice, on its own, is natural—teens will sympathize easily. Unfortunately, he also narrates via an annoying and superfluous cast of imaginary friends, including Aunt Bea from the Andy Griffith Show. Instead of edgy, this device comes off as gimmicky and disrupts an otherwise intelligent, moving story.—Johanna Lewis, New York Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
Since his mother's recent death, his mentally ill father, who tried to bury him alive at age six, has donned a homemade Spartan helmet as protection from mythological Furies, leaving 15-year-old Jason Papadopoulos feeling like he's living a Greek tragedy. And the chorus consists of a cast of characters in his mind—a fat, balding movie critic, a kid who once Krazy Glued his fingers together, Sexy Lady (who always finds Jason hot), Aunt Bee from The Andy Griffith Show and his own laugh track—whose commentary punctuates his first-person narration throughout. 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. Wracked with guilt (why couldn't he fix his parents?), grief (why did they abandon him?) and fear (do the voices in his head make him crazy too?), he slowly learns, with the help of his new friends and foster parents, normalcy and how to care for himself first. (Fiction. 12 & up)
From the Publisher
* "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

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.40(d)
660L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

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 to be.

AUNT BEE: I hate when you get yourself in trouble.

CRAZY GLUE: Old Silky’s going to give it to you now.

SEXY LADY: Come on over here, You, and sit next to me. Make yourself comfortable. Don’t worry if you’re a little confused. Jason will explain everything. He narrates his life as he goes along.

CRAZY GLUE: Yeah, he does it for the visually impaired in the audience.

FBG WITH A MUSTACHE: That’s not it at all. Jason likes to keep his mind busy because he’s afraid of mental silences. Disturbing thoughts lurk just beneath the surface and he knows it. Keep up the mental chatter, my boy.

Everyone has disturbing thoughts. It’s normal. It’s perfectly normal.

CRAZY GLUE: Sure it is, pal.

Meet 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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Crazy 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
ReadingAngel002 More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is an amazing story, this is one of the best book i've ever read. Once you start reading you won't be able to put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im not joking I have literally read this book more than ten times!!!!!!!I wish i could give this book more than five stars. I certainly deserves more.
cheer101 More than 1 year ago
This book was unusually realy good!!!!! Yet, I reccomend this book to people that are in 9th grade or higher. you need to have a mture mind. But other then that, I give this book a 4 out of 5. :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ive read this book at least 3 times and i nevr get tired of it. Once you start to read you ccant stop; you get cought up in the moment. I highly recomened this to everyone!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Descibes everything I feel like sometimes...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this bok becuase it has lots of fungua and it grabs my hair while im walking away and pulls me back so i can never stop reading it ad it also makes me feel comfy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im so glad i read this book it is so great. This book deserves more than give stars!! I spent alot of time on reading this book and im happy i did!! :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is freaking awesome!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lindsey Ferguson More than 1 year ago
I've been a fan if Han Nolan sine I read "if I should die before I wake". She captures the fragile mind of a teenagers in all of her books. Her characters (real and imaginary) really make you love and epathesize empathize with them.
Gia-wa More than 1 year ago
This book was great! I loved the way Jason had an audience in his head and they were his alter egos. I reccomend this book to anyone 12+. (It's worth reading, trust me!)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jordan Celestain More than 1 year ago
this is amazing i couldnt put it down its good from begining to the end and i recommend it for anyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jeanette16 More than 1 year ago
Jason Papadopoulos has a secret. His father is mentally retarded, and since his mother died, he has the challenging job of caring for his dad. He hides from other people, afraid to give his secret away, and is also worried that he has the same illness as his father. His theory is only stimulated by the "audience" he carries around in his head. He knows they are not real, but treats them like real friends. I like how the author wrote them in like they were actually talking to them, although it is really only himself thinking. They were kind of the comic relief of the story, but helped him make decisions. Jason is put into therapy by a teacher, and meets three other students that have problems of their own. One of them does something that forever changes Jason's life, but it also proves that he is not "crazy."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
agapegrace More than 1 year ago
I was a little bit worried when I looked inside the book and saw what appeared to be script-like dialogue in places. I was scared to even begin reading because I do not love reading plays or scripts. However, on closer examination, I realized that each script-like reference was a character inside the main character's head adding its own version of events to the narrative. I decided to give this book a try anyway, and I'm very glad I did. I love anything psychologically based, so I fell in love with this book almost instantly after giving it a chance. The main character, Jason, is locked inside his own world of grief and muted distress ever since the loss of his mother and his own attempts to deal with his father's mental illness. I loved his narration of events. Even though his story is heart-breaking, the book itself is not heavy - it's comical and profound at the same time. Jason's character development is so powerful - it shows the reader a clear view of what his issues are, but Jason himself does not reach his epiphany until the end of the book. I also admire the fact that Jason is an apt survivor. He doesn't view himself as a victim even though he is, and his determination to be there for the father who is really the source of his problems just amazes me. The cast of characters both real and imagined is also believable and loveable. The support Jason's real-life friends give him through the whole ordeal is moving and, at the same time, hilarious in some of their responses. I loved the voices in Jason's head, and I easily got used to them and would at times try to predict what they would say. I wanted to just give Jason's father a little pat on the head and a hug.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ya i did.. my posts werent showin up
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
U didnt get locked-,-