He’s falling in love—and she’s falling over the edge of sanity. From the author of Beautiful and Clean, a heartwrenching exploration of a romance marred by mental illness. Connor knows that Izzy will never fall in love with him the way he’s fallen for her. But somehow he’s been let into her crazy, exhilarating world and become her closest confidante. But the closer they get, the more Connor realizes that Izzy’s highs are too high and her lows are too low. And the frenetic energy that makes her shine is starting to push her into a much darker place. As Izzy’s behavior gets increasingly erratic and self-destructive, Connor gets increasingly desperate to stop her from plummeting. He knows he can’t save her from her pain...but what if no one else can?
I have a few favorite authors. I have authors whose books I read with the expectation that they’ll be good. I have authors whose books I’ll pick up just because that author’s name is on the front cover. So yeah, I have favorites.
What I don’t have are authors who get 5/5 ratings across the board. I’m a fairly picky reader. I don’t dish out full marks on a whim. If a book gets a 5/5 rating, that basically means I want to fall down and worship it.
Amy Reed is an anomaly in my curmudgeonly reading career. Her debut, Beautiful knocked my pants off. Her sophomore novel, Clean, ripped out my soul and burned it. And her third novel, Crazy, pulverized my pantsless, soulless body. 3 novels, 3 five-star ratings, 1 author, 1 flabbergasted reader.
I’m not very good at math, but even I know that’s not something that comes along every day.
Technically speaking, Crazy was most likely the most well-written, well-constructed of Reed’s novels. There were funny moments, heartbreaking moments, moments where the author’s prose left me breathless, and some standard realistic fiction-y moments. Reed is an amazingly strong author, and I love that she’s willing to experiment. All of her novels are written in a different style—Crazy is an epistolary novel consisting of email exchanges between two teens who met at summer camp, one of whom begins to show signs of bipolar disorder.
The fact that Reed portrayed this story through email exchanges was, in the long run, probably an extremely wise choice, too. Like Connor, we can only read Isabel’s emails and feel powerless. There’s nothing he can do to help her except listen and offer advice—which she doesn’t exactly want. One complaint I have quite often with epistolary fiction is that it’s harder to make a connection with the characters; not the case with this books. Isabel, obviously takes center stage here, as she’s the one whose life is out of control. I empathized more with Connor, though, which is probably the intent. Like him, the reader is a spectator to Isabel’s problems. And, additionally, Connor’s everyday problems—a lesbian ex-girlfriend and a newfound gay best friend—were amusing and light-hearted enough to keep Crazy from being a puddle of depressing angst. Great balancing act on the author’s part.
Now, I’m a realistic fiction junkie; I really like issue books. However, there is such a thing as too much, and mental health/drugs/eating disorders are some very overused topics in the genre. What I love about Amy Reed is that she treats these topics respectfully, and she maintains a balance. Her novels aren’t swallowed by the issue—they contain the issue inside their pages. Crazy is about more than bipolar disorder. It’s about a long distance relationship, the overabundance of hipsters in the Puget Sound area, sexual identity crises, young love, etc. That, more than anything, is what made this novel so fantastic.