320p. Eerdmans. Oct. 2014. pap. $9. ISBN 9780802854377. LC 2013048058.
Gr 7 Up—"To my mother, whose fault it never was, and to my sister, my soul mate in survival," reads the dedication to Phillip's compelling debut novel that is loosely based on the author's experiences growing up around bipolar disorder. It's 1963 and 15-year-old Laura has always been told that her mother suffers from nervous breakdowns. So while other mothers are baking cookies for the PTA fundraiser and helping their daughters sew dresses for home economics class, Laura's mother spends the day sitting in a rocking chair with a vacant stare. No one in Laura's family, particularly her father, will discuss her mother's frightening behavior. There's a palpable tension in Laura's house as everyone tiptoes around her mother, waiting for her to snap. The teen never feels at ease and so she naturally comes to hate her mother, even hate her life. Laura pushes away her passion for art and her best friend, for fear she will end up just like her mom. It isn't until the protagonist finally seeks support that she sees light in the darkness of her mother's mental illness. Told in first-person free verse, Crazy is a beautifully written and emotionally impactful novel about growing up around bipolar disorder in a time period when even doctors didn't truly understand the ramifications of such a disease. Laura's shame about her family and her guilt for hating her mother for something she cannot control are heartrending. Phillips's poetry coupled with her personal experiences truly make this a poignant read. It should be in the hands of anyone—teen and adult—who has ever felt powerless at the hands of mental illness.—Kimberly Garnick Giarratano, Rockaway Township Public Library, NJ

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