Everybody needs someone who gets their crazy
Hank Kirby can't catch a break. He doesn't mean to screw up. It just happens. Case in point: his attempt to ask out the girl he likes literally goes up in flames when he spelled "prom" in sparklers on Amanda Carlisle's lawn...and nearly burns down her house, without ever asking her the big question.
Hank just wants to pretend the incident never happened. And he might've gotten away with it-except there is a witness.
Peyton Breedlove, brooding loner and budding pyromaniac, saw the whole thing, and she blackmails Hank into an unusual friendship. Sure, Hank may be headed for his biggest disaster yet, but it's only when life falls apart that you can start piecing it back together.
"Funny, authentic, and, at turns, heartbreaking."-Jessi Kirby, author of Things We Know by Heart and Moonglass
"I had so much fun reading this book."-Adi Alsaid, author of Never Always Sometimes and Let's Get Lost
About the Author
Robin Reul has been writing stories since she was old enough to hold a pen. Though she grew up on movie sets and worked for years in the film and television industry, she ultimately decided to focus her attention on writing young adult novels. And unlike Hank, she does not know how to ride a bike. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, son and daughter. My Kind Of Crazy is her first novel.
Read an Excerpt
So here's the thing. It's not like I woke up this morning and said, "Hey, I think I'll light the hundred-year-old eastern red cedar tree in front of Amanda Carlisle's house on fire today." Because I don't know about you, but when I wake up, my mind doesn't go straight to arson. Honestly, the first thing I focus on is how fast I can get from my room to the bathroom without my dad's girlfriend, Monica, trying to chat me up while I'm awkwardly standing there in my boxers.
I'd read online that how you ask a girl to prom can completely make or break a guy's chances. I wanted to do something special that Amanda would never forget. Apparently it worked, just not the way I intended. "Use sparklers to spell out PROM," the article on the Internet said. There was even a picture with them all lit up on the ground. Totally idiotproof.
I snuck into her yard like a ninja under the cover of darkness and tried to jam the sparklers into her lawn, but the soil was hard and unyielding. I looked around, desperate, and then I spied a nice, soft patch of mulch underneath the cedar tree near the side of her yard. It was perfect, and the sparklers slid in easily. A few minutes later, I had them all lined up just like I'd seen in the picture. Once they were lit, I yelled, "Amanda!" I actually had to call out twice because she didn't hear me the first time. Then she came to the window and gazed down as the sparklers fizzled down to the ground and-boom!
Turns out it was fresh pine mulch underneath that cedar. Pine trees produce turpentine, so I might as well have lit those sparklers in a pool of gasoline, considering how quickly the mulch caught fire.
I didn't know what to do, so I ran. Which is why I'm now hiding behind a bush across the street in her neighbor's yard. This is definitely going down in history as the most epic promposal fail ever. And then, as if things couldn't get more catastrophic, they do.
Baseball is practically a religion where I live in Massachusetts's South Coast. People take their Red Sox pretty seriously, and the diehards decorate their trees with red and blue streamers every season in a show of support. The Carlisles are no exception. And it doesn't take long for the flames to catch and race the length of those ribbons into the dry branches above.
From where I'm crouched down, I have a perfect view of the Carlisle house. I can see Amanda's eyes widen and her jaw drop open as she observes the quickly escalating situation in her yard. She pulls away from the window-I'm guessing to call the fire department. We should probably talk about prom some other time.
With things clearly going south, I do what any sensible person would do: I get the hell out of there. Of course, a sensible person wouldn't have put sparklers in a pile of fresh mulch directly under a highly flammable tree. Hindsight is twenty-twenty.
So in the most casual way possible, I hook my backpack-which is loaded with empty sparkler boxes-over my shoulders, hop on my bike, and pedal away from the scene at what I hope passes for a normal speed. Cool as a cucumber, that's me.
I reason for a brief moment that perhaps Amanda didn't actually see me there. Even if she did, she doesn't know me all that well so she might not recognize me. I am wearing black jeans, and my Batman hoodie conceals my medium-length, stick-straight brown hair, so I am sort of camouflaged. Not to mention that those flames were pretty distracting.
The fire station is about five streets away, near the library. I start to worry that the firemen won't get there fast enough and Amanda's whole house will burn down. I know I'm a lame-ass chickenshit for hightailing out of there, but the last thing I need is Dad on my case for something else. As far as he's concerned, I can't do much right. I would like to say he's just being an asshole, but lately I've been wondering if he's onto something.
I consider turning around and heading back to Amanda's, which would be the right thing to do, but I swear I'm about to piss myself with fear so I pedal faster, listening for the sounds of approaching police sirens. For good measure, I jerk my bike off the main road, cutting through the back alleys toward home.
By the time my key is in the door, I'm sweating like a whore in church and feel like I'm going to puke. I have two objectives: avoid all human contact and get to my room as quickly as possible.
Naturally, this does not happen. Dad is sitting downstairs, nursing a beer and watching a baseball game on TV. He's wearing his stained lucky Red Sox shirt that he never washes because that would bring bad luck. His eyes are puffy and his face hasn't seen a razor in days. It's sad to see him like this. He's actually a pretty handsome guy. Even when my mom was alive, I noticed other women checking him out. If I'd been paying a little more attention, I might have noticed he was checking them out too. It wasn't until Mom was gone that I think he realized how much he loved her.
Normally when I come home, Dad acknowledges me with little more than a wave and a grunt, his eyes glued to his precious Sox, but lucky for me, tonight he decides to strike up a conversation.
"Hey! Hank! Just in time. Sox're killing 'em. Top of the ninth." He raises his bottle and tips it toward me as if he's toasting me.
"Nice," I tell him, but I can't think about baseball right now. The only balls I can concentrate on are my own as I wonder how I'm going to grow a pair and deal with this mess.
Dad yells at the umpire on the screen. When he was younger, Dad was a hell of a ballplayer with dreams of playing for the Sox. He was offered a spot in the minor leagues out of high school, met my mom, fell in love, and the future looked bright. Four years went by, and he never got picked up for the majors. Then he tore his ACL and that was that. Game over. Time for Plan B.
"Monica made some kind of enchilada casserole. I think there's some left. You could warm it up."
That sounds dangerous. She means well, but Monica might possibly be the worst cook on the entire planet. It's not that my mom was some great cook, but in comparison she was Betty frickin' Crocker.
Dad takes a swig of his beer and then places it on the coffee table beside an empty. The condensation will leave a wet ring on the wood. All our furniture is covered with them, like a dog pissing to mark his territory or something. That's one of the few things I remember my mother hassling Dad about the day she and my older brother, Mickey, died, even though that was nearly six years ago. "Use a coaster, Larry!" It was her mantra.
"I'm not all that hungry." It isn't even a lie. I'm pretty sure that if I eat anything, it will come hurtling back up at light speed.
"Not like you to pass up the Sox or a meal." The role of concerned parent fits him like a cheap suit. He gives me a once-over, clearly judging my pale, skinny frame. I'm no wimp. Just because I'm not bench-pressing with a bunch of jockstraps at the gym doesn't mean I can't lift four forty-pound bags of dog food at my job at the Shop 'n Save without breaking a sweat.
I'd much rather be up in my room working on the latest installment of my comic Freeze Frame. Add that to the list of disappointments life has dealt my dad. The only thing worse than losing his wife and superjock son and being left with me would be if I were a girl.
"I'm good. Maybe later. I gotta take a shower and study for a bio test tomorrow. Plus, I have to work tonight. They're doing inventory so I'll be back late..." I drift off, hoping he'll lose interest and I can make an escape.
"Yeah, well, you'll have to wait a few minutes. Monica's upstairs using the shower."
Initially, I wondered what the hell someone like Monica was doing with a guy like my dad. She's twenty-six, only nine years older than I am, and she's a dancer. Not ballet or Broadway or some fancy crap, but off the highway at Mo's Boobie Barn. She says it's only temporary to help her pay her way through beauty school, but I guess it goes without saying where they met.
According to Monica, he showed up at the club one night and they spent some "private time" in the back. Somewhere along the line, he lost his shit and broke down crying, and they ended up spending the rest of the night just talking. They've been seeing each other ever since. Monica moved in nearly a year ago, so it seems pretty serious. From what I can tell, she loves that he sees her as more than what she does for a living, and she has a soft spot for men she thinks she can save. I'm hoping she can.
The opposing team strikes out, and the crowd goes bananas. The TV switches to a commercial and a newscaster saying, "Coming up on the news at eleven, sparklers lead to a fire in a local neighborhood igniting controversy: prank or arson?"
I try to act casual as they flash live video of Amanda's charred front yard. Must be a slow night for them to pick up the story that quickly. I swallow hard.
Dad stares at the TV and shakes his head. "Jesus, what goddamn moron would do something like that? Sparklers on a lawn?"
This moron. "Crazy."
"At least it sounds like nobody got hurt." He belches and wipes his mouth with the edge of his fist.
"Well, that's what matters, right?" And then I do that thing I do when I'm nervous or trying to cover something up but hope that nobody will notice. I get total diarrhea of the mouth. "Who knows why anyone does anything really. Maybe the person had a reason. Someone doesn't just light sparklers on a lawn for no reason, right?"
The game comes back on and instantly he's gone, his attention riveted like a dog's to a squirrel. Someone hits a homer out of the park on his first at bat and Dad is up out of his seat cheering, so I make my exit.
I sprint up the stairs and pass the bathroom door, which is cracked open precisely enough for me to make out a sliver of Monica's pale-white skin as she wraps herself in a terrycloth towel. My hand is reaching for my bedroom doorknob when suddenly the bathroom door opens. She smiles as if I've been lurking.
Which I haven't.
I mean, it was only for like a second.
She runs her fingers through her long, brown, wet-from-the-shower hair. Her skin glistens with moisture.
"Oh, hey, Hank," she says. I try to act like it's completely normal to stand in the hallway chatting up my dad's girlfriend who is only wearing a towel.
"Oh, hi. I...um...have to study for a test." I readjust my backpack strap. "Gotta maintain that GPA."
She fiddles with the edge of her towel. "Hey, what'd the girl say?"
"The other night you told me you were goin' to ask some girl to prom this week. How'd that go? Did she say yes?"
Shit. Fuck. Shit.
My mouth hangs open for a second as I regroup and collect my thoughts. Monica had asked me if I was going to prom while I was cleaning up after dinner. Fortunately, I hadn't told her any details, only that I had someone in mind to ask.
"Uh, it went fine, I guess."
"Fine? So she said yes?" Her face lights up like she is genuinely happy for me.
"Um, not exactly. I'm not really sure." Her towel slips a little, but I pretend not to notice.
"How can you not be sure? You either asked her or you didn't. Did she say she had to think about it? Because any girl who says she has to think about it is probably waitin' for some other guy to ask her, and you've become her backup plan while she buys some time."
I nod, perhaps a little too vigorously. "Right. You are so right. Great advice. I will definitely keep that in mind."
"Never settle, Hank. You're a great guy. And you're adorable. Any girl would be lucky to go with you."
"Adorable" is a word that I generally reserve for teddy bears and kittens, but I'll take it. The smell of soap and Suave Ocean Breeze shampoo hits my nose as she pulls me close for a hug, and I start to feel awkward. Now I really have to get in my room fast, or else this could get highly embarrassing. So I pull away and hurriedly push open my door, shouting, "Thanks! See ya!" and give her a thumbs-up as I swing it closed.
Holy Mother of God.
Once I'm in, I throw my backpack on the bed and tear it open, pulling out the empty sparkler boxes. I've got to hide them somewhere until Thursday, which is trash pickup, because I can't risk leaving them in the garbage can. Murphy's Law says that if I do, this will be the week a freak band of raccoons decides to rummage through our garbage or some homeless guy goes diving for recyclables. I've got enough fish to fry without Harry the Hobo getting interviewed on the eleven o'clock news about the "suspicious packages" he found when he was playing amateur archaeologist for old Pepsi cans.
I quickly inventory my boxes. And then I panic. There should be seven of them. Eight sparklers came in a package, and the website specifically recommended seven boxes. But there are only six boxes here. My bag was zipped, which means I dropped one of them somewhere in front of Amanda Carlisle's house. And unless it burned up in the fire, it's lying there covered in my fingerprints and practically wrapped with a bow for someone to find.
I've done a lot of dumbass things in my life, but this is pretty much the capper. I break into a sweat all over again. If someone had found the box and connected it to me, the police would have already shown up at my door, right?
I count the boxes again but there are still only six. Which means I have no choice.
I have to go back to Amanda's house.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
My Kind of Crazy is one of those books where you want to give the characters a big hug. There is just something about well-written characters that makes you believe these are real people that actually exist somewhere in the world and not just between the pages. This book was full of humor and spark and all kinds of crazy. And sometimes a little heartache. The painful side of broken homes was captured so well. The whole book you’re holding your breath, hoping Hank and Peyton find a bright spot in life they can hold on to. This is the type of book that will sit with you long after you’ve put it down. Reul’s writing is my favorite style to read: real characters, lots of quirky humor, crazy teenagers and that whispering chance of love. The perfect balance in a YA novel.
How debut author manages to combine laugh out loud funny with serious topics is beyond me, but she pulls it off brilliantly. I think this is in large part due to the wit and depth of her main character, Hank Kirby. Kirby is an average 17 year old kid, dealing with problems that he shouldn’t be dealing with. But he’s hilariously funny. Like, hilarious. The way Reul has built this character on the page is stunning. And hilarious. So, the book. Hank Kirby makes an epic fail of a promposal and consequently crosses path with the delightful and troubled neighbor to the girl of his dreams. But as he begins to spend more time with the troubled girl with her crazy nest of hair, Kirby’s dreams change. It’s no longer getting the perfect, out-of-reach-HS-queen to be is date for prom; it’s about meeting a person who gets you. Someone who gets you and accepts you, despite your crazy. What results is a beautiful story of two teens finding a way to accept themselves enough to invite another person in. It’s heart-warming and inspiring and so very hilarious. Reul doesn’t shy away from a lot of the problems facing HS kids: domestic violence, mental health issues, alcoholism in the home and working class poverty. The pacing for her characters to deal with all of these issues AND manage to open their hearts to trust is admirable. This book kept me totally engaged and completely rooting for all the beautiful crazy in all of the characters. This is a fantastic YA with pitch perfect voice.
As a veteran English teacher, I’ve developed an ear for the YA voice. “My Kind of Crazy” is that perfectly mixed cocktail of relatable characters and a driving storyline, with a splash of jalapeno. From the very first page, Reul lights a fuse for the reader as Hank navigates his way through high school, home, friendship and love. He knows that one more wrong move and his worlds will collide, leaving him with nothing to call his own except the blame once again. Its contemporary tone will appeal to mature teens, but I was able to pick up on the carefully placed nods to my own high school experience. There were moments when I felt like I was looking through the lens of an ‘80s film, when the masters of teen angst and far-fetched dreams gave you a story that you couldn’t help but root for!
I really wish there were a half-star option, because “My Kind of Crazy” is a solid 4 1/2 star read. There is a lot of heart to be found in this book. Mental illness and the topic of not fitting in are heavily covered, but before you think “not that again”, please read on. It is NOT handled in the typical way. First of all, I cannot remember reading any other YA book that tackles pyromania. That alone makes it unique. The issues are presented as serious, but there is a gentle humor in it as well. The problems aren’t made light of, but it does make it obvious that there is humor in almost every situation, and your attitude is as important as anything else in determining the outcome. I promise that sentence will make more sense if you read the book. I loved Hank, Peyton, and the stripper-with-a-heart-of-gold Monica, red tassels and all. Main characters and secondary characters alike are developed beyond the surface. That makes for a nice character-driven read. The feeling of being stuck where you are is something I think many young adults (and adults) can relate to, and it is handled here in a way that has you feeling their hopes and fears as if they were your own. The only problem I had was the ending felt a bit rushed, but that doesn’t take away from the beauty of the story. I recommend “My Kind of Crazy” for young adults and adults alike. If you’ve ever felt on the outside looking in, this is the perfect book for you. It is a good book for reluctant readers as well, since it’s a quick read that doesn’t skimp on plot or character development. This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I wanted to love My Kind of Crazy. But instead, I liked it, but I did not like like it. Hank is stuck; his dad drinks too much and has a stripper girlfriend, his one friend is rumored to be the son of a mobster and his promposal backfired and set his dream girl Amanda’s front yard on fire. Then the weird girl Peyton starts talking to him like they are kindred spirits. She was the lone witness to his sparkler debacle and as a firebug herself feels close to him. Robin Reul created a very real world in My Kind of Crazy. The settings fit the story and the characters. The pacing was good, some scenes felt a bit rushed, but overall it worked. The writing was sharp and conveyed emotion well. The emotions were solid; nice highs and lows with an undercurrent of sadness. The plot and character were what lacked to me. My Kind of Crazy tackled some heavy issues, such as depression, parental abuse, and alcoholism, but glossed over them and never seemed to really focus on getting anyone help. The characters were very self centered and even when faced with a glaring issue that should have made them seek help, they moved past it quickly. My Kind of Crazy was not a bad read, it just did not delve as deeply into the serious issues it raised as it should have. The prevalence of mental health issues in YA is not new, and when it is used as just a plot issue, instead of a teachable moment makes me a little frustrated. Reul could have reached such a deep place but instead put a happy veneer over everything. So if you are looking for a deep meaningful read, this is not it. But if you want a decent fun read with some emotional parts My Kind of Crazy is your read. I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Warm, witty, and touching. Robin Reul perfectly captures the voice of Hank Kirby, loner, grocery-store stock boy, and comic book aficionado (with a sub-speciality in the Silver Surfer). I loved the voice in this book, which is imminently readable but feels substantial at the same time. The story tackles super-hero sized issues of neglect, loneliness, grief, and mental illness while still maintaining an overall tone of warmth, wit, and humour. I found myself really rooting for Hank as he navigates his difficult home situation, his friendships, and the complications of his first love. But best of all: this book is just so funny! I received an arc of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This book was at the top of my 2016 TBR list, and fortunately, I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. I had high hopes for this, and it did not disappoint. The characters are relatable and authentic, and Robin Reul nailed Hank's voice. She flawlessly shifts between the poignant moments in Hank's life with his hilarious personality and knack for finding himself in ridiculous situations. The secondary characters are well fleshed out, and they don't always go where you think they're going to. This book is fast-paced and filled with both heart and humor. Can't wait to pick up copies for my teenagers and their friends!
This was a great read that I won't soon forget. The characters were endearing and I couldn't wait to see what would happen next. The connection between Hank and Peyton felt so real to me and that's number one in importance when I'm reading and getting lost in a new story. I missed Hank and Peyton when I had to put the book down to catch some zzzzz's! The story wasn't typical and had me on the edge of my seat more than a few times. It was a rainbow of emotions. I don't typically read the YA genre but this book far exceeded my expectation. Some of the issues the characters were dealing with reminded me of my high school experience and some were so real and raw it's hard to believe teens have so much to deal with hidden inside the walls of their homes. I was sad to see it end. I'm looking forward to more by this very talented author, Robin Reul.
It all started with flames, Hank was just looking for a unique way to get a date for prom but catching a tree on fire was not in his original plans. Leaving the scene of the fire without getting a date wasn’t in the plans either. Hank didn’t expect Peyton to walk into his life that night either for it was Amanda who he was extending his prom invitation to, the girl who saw the dark figure of a boy fleeing from her yard. It began as a simple situation, the author started threading this scenario and casting the characters together and I found myself deeply involved inside the lives of Peyton and Hank. Amanda is the one everyone desires but Peyton is the one who catches Hank’s eye, as she’s different. It’s amazing he hadn’t seen her before. Peyton, she’s the girl with the carefree attitude, her own unique clothing style and her fascination with matchbooks. Then there’s Hank, he’s quiet but he has a lot on his mind. He’s the boy no one sees, he’s quite talented and he would like a future but he knows he must help his father pay the bills. I loved the pace of the story, how it gradually built up and the characters lives became more familiar. Looking inside the lives of Hank and Peyton, I wasn’t sure whose life was harder. Not the typical life that a teen should be living but the two of them were making the best of it and knowing that their high school years were almost over and turning eighteen might bring them different opportunities. Hank and Peyton are the only two who know exactly what happen the night of Hank’s prom proposal but as the two of them become better friends, they realize they both have other similar secrets in their lives. What I enjoyed about their relationship was the discreetness for one another. Sounds weird but they were bonded by a single event but other situations in their lives were now tying them together, some good and some not so good and all around them there were peers effecting them and soon everything started to become complicated, yet inside them…..they knew. This was a wonderful novel; one that demonstrates that sometimes what you set out to do might not what you’re truly meant to do. This is a must read for 2016, don’t pass this novel up. I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire in exchange for an honest opinion.
I'm pretty sure that this is a YA book, however I believe that adults would like it as well. While the characters are young, there are a lot of issues going on that would help older folks as well in a different context. There were a few chuckles and a couple of laugh out loud moments. There were many aha, light bulb over the head moments as well. I think it was a very well written story with believable and likable characters, especially the main character. It was a great story that just kind of left me with feel good feeling after I read it. Huge thanks to Sourcebooks for granting my wish, I loved the book! And also thanks to Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review.
4.5/5 Stars My Kind of Crazy made me laugh so hard that I thought my sides were going to split. At the same time, it made me feel sad and got me to really think about all the types of families there are, and all the different walks of life people come from. Robin Reul truly knows how to find humor in a dark place, and her book is a charming and heartbreaking read that depicts a side of high school that is rarely shown. Somehow, Reul managed to highlight important life issues, while also keeping it light enough that I didn't feel at all bogged down or depressed when I finished reading. My biggest love for this book lies in the characters. Hank is hysterical, relatable and even charming in a doofy kind of way. I'm convinced that in high school, him and I would have been besties. His story is truly compelling and I honestly wish that he was a real person. My Kind of Crazy is everything I want out of a John Green book minus the melodrama and pretentiousness. You guys know that I'm really picky when it comes to contemporaries, so believe me when I say that this is one of the good ones! Read my full review here: http://www.bookrambles.com/2016/02/my-kind-of-crazy-by-robin-reul-arc.html
This book definitely falls in the realm of unexpected. From that cover and how the book started (Hank firing up a promposal), I expected it to be some quirky light-hearted story about two awkward teens. Well, Hank is, but it’s the story of two teens who have always felt unwanted and invisible. As Hank becomes friends with the sole witness to his debacle, he realizes that despite her issues with fire, he finds her difficult to not like. So much that he loses interest in the girl whom he did the whole promposal for. But her circumstances are not exactly normal; secrets about their life also come out and they find a kinship in it. It is a little messed up at times, but the humor wasn’t kept far away, saving it from being a downer. The book is definitely an interesting read, and a wonderful coming-of-age book.
My Kind of Crazy is an original story with a few serious issues that are very thought-provoking. Right from the first chapter, I was hooked. It starts off with Hank doing a promposal that unfortunately isn’t successful because the girl’s house almost catches fire. With only this to start off with, I was invested in the story. The characters: While I liked Hank at the beginning of the story, his personality started dim as the story went on and it was Peyton who took the spotlight, in my opinion. Peyton was someone who seemed so weird from the beginning but I liked her. She brought something to the story and I dare say, helped Hank figure out a lot of things in his life (That’s my personal opinion here. It was how I saw it.). There came a point in the story, kind of the plot twist, where I started to question Peyton and Hank’s friendship. I always saw them as friends and couldn’t really believe the connection they had, seeing as for the majority of the story, it was only Peyton having feelings for Hank and not the other way around. Ultimately, I liked how the story ended for both of them, although the ending did seem uncertain. I really liked the side characters such as Hank’s father, Larry and his girlfriend, Monica. Once again, I questioned Monica’s motives but she ended up being a complete sweetheart!!! Larry had some major character growth in the story…MAJOR! I didn’t think he would change but he so proved me wrong. While the story started off strong, it slowly started to die down and there were moments where I was really bored. I was expecting the same hilarious note I got at the beginning to last for the remainder of the story. It did have some powerful areas concerning one specific character but the rest kept slowing down. It ended on a good note, uncertain as I mentioned above, but overall it was a good, original story. Genesis @ Latte Nights Reviews