Saturday, 7 June 2014

Review: Crazy by Amy Reed

Crazy by Amy Reed
Format: eBook
Published by Simon Pulse on 12th June 2014
Pages: 384
Genre: YA, Contemporary
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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?
This book was startlingly good. It swallowed me up in its darkness and complexity and sheer beauty and I am just in awe of this powerful and emotionally gripping story that Amy Reed has crafted. I want to read all her other books now.

Crazy is about Isabel and Connor, two teenagers who meet when they're working at a summer camp together. The book begins in September, after summer has ended and they have gone their separate ways. It begins with an email from Connor.

This story is told mostly through emails. (There's some variation on the format later on in the book, but it really is just mostly emails.) And I loved it. I loved this format so much. Connor and Izzy both had distinct voices that were each full of their own unique humour and insight, and I just loved them both. I was instantly hooked on both of their voices. And as time goes on and the months pass and the year unravels, it becomes clear to the reader who has any knowledge of bipolar disorder that this is what Izzy is suffering from. Connor, on the other hand, doesn't really understand what's happening to Izzy, and I could relate to his feelings of helplessness and frustration so much sometimes, as he sits in front of his computer and aches and aches to help, to be with Izzy. But instead all he has is words and the computer screen.

I want to meet you in the forest and I want to go slug hunting and I want to hold you and make you believe you are safe. I will build us a boat with my bare hands and we will sail to this island in your painting. I will feed you coconuts and all the sweet things I can find. But I can’t do this unless you let me help you.

I think this book explores both sides of that relationship quite well. I don't personally know what it's like to have bipolar disorder, but it seems that most reviewers on Goodreads who do suffer from bipolar disorder found that this portrayal really resonated with them. But I definitely liked that this book showed what's it like to be close to someone who has mental health issues. That I know really well.

Reed's writing was amazing. It seemed so effortless and easy to read, so utterly engrossing. Her sentences were delicious, fantastic, beautiful, bursting to the brim with emotion, sometimes like a punch right to your heart. Some of the passages in this book were just so intense, especially Izzy's emails when she gets particularly manic or depressed. The sentences running on and on into each other, the punctuation disappearing, everything a blurred stream of consciousness, a stream of love and hatred and anger and sadness.

But maybe art isn’t about who sees it, maybe all that matters is me and the thing I make, me and the act of creating, those few moments stuck together where you’re elevated above this pathetic, polluted world, when you’re covered in paint or palster and you’re talking to God with your hands and eyes and your big, pounding heart saying all the things you’ve ever needed to say, the movement, THE INTENTION your only language, and it’s bigger than words, bigger than your mouth forming recycled sentences and explanations and all those sad, repeated things. There is only value in the things that have never existed before. This canvas with these strokes and these colors and these textures HAS NEVER EXISTED BEFORE. YOU and ME and THIS are the only things that matter.

Honestly, Reed's writing. I was just frantically highlighting passages the whole time. I really want to resist just dumping all those quotes here, but seriously, there are so many heartbreakingly beautiful passages that I want to share with you all, and that means you should all just READ THE BOOK. I'm looking back at all the passages I highlighted to choose a few to share here, and my heart feels like it's being squeezed tight all over again. I hurt so much for both Izzy and Connor reading this book.

I also appreciated that this book included four side characters who weren't straight. FOUR. I just loved that because usually, when the MCs of a book are straight, a book might still include one gay character (or two, usually the gay character's boyfriend or girlfriend), but this book? FOUR. And it just felt so nice, because they were all really different characters and this meant that it never once felt like tokenism.

This book was also constantly engaging with issues of feminism (it was a very sex-positive book and was very upfront about women's sexuality) and privilege. There was this one bit when Connor tells the story of how he once spent his winter break in a village in Ecuador with his mum, volunteering to build schools, and through his story he presents some interesting thoughts on that whole phenomenon of volunteer tourism in a very sensitive, complex, and thought-provoking way. I was just so surprised that this book managed to pack so much in, and all these discussions felt so natural as part of the communication between these two characters and never contrived.

My one complaint is that the ending felt a little... easy. Too much hope all at once, when there seemed so little hope just shortly before. But honestly, the rest of this book was so beautiful and unflinchingly honest and believable and it just sucked me in into this huge emotional whirlpool, and all the emotions were so big and so sad and so real. I loved every moment of it.



  1. Amazing review! Do you get really emotionally involved in stories, Cynthia? I do, to such a degree, that on reading just the synopsis of Crazy, I'm really put off. As I've said before, I have such a hard time when reading books with depression. To the point where, even when I've put the book down, it can take me ages to get out of my low mood. I just don't know if I could handle a book like Crazy. The fact it's mostly written in emails makes me feel a little easier about it. I am REALLY intrigued, it sounds like such a fascinating story! I just don't know if I could handle it. I live with people with depression, I see it every day, you know? Although it's a different kind of depression, it would just be really hard. But a really awesome review, thank you!

  2. Reviews from a Bookworm9 June 2014 at 15:34

    Brilliant review! I have never heard of this book before but now I am really intrigued. And I like the idea that the book is told mostly through email. I haven't read many, if any, books that do that so it will be interesting to see how it works. Thanks for sharing :)

  3. I'm sure about the email format, but Crazy does sound like a very POWERFUL and INTENSE read. And yay for the FOUR non-straight side characters. :) I actually like books that end on a hopeful note (even if it might not be too realistic), sooo yeah I think I'll add this book to my "maybe" shelf (for now). Great review!

  4. Thanks! It really depends on the story, I think! I do get emotionally involved in some stories, but this doesn't always happen. And even if I do get emotionally involved, it doesn't tend to affect me for very long. I am very prone to crying, though. I think I cry a lot easier than most readers. And there are just some moods I'm in when I just want to avoid reading anything too sad. I was gonna read A Voice in the Distance this month but eventually I decided I just couldn't really deal with that right now.

    Crazy is still a very hopeful read though, I think. It ends happily. And it just expresses everything so beautifully. It's incredible. Maybe check out some of Amy Reed's other writing? I loved her writing so much. I think I could love everything else she writes.

  5. Thanks! Yeah, I loved the format! My boyfriend and I are kind of part-time long-distance, since we go to the same uni but I live in Hong Kong and he lives in England, so when it's not term time we're halfway across the world from each other, and we communicate through the Internet a lot. I could really relate to Connor's frustration about this form of communication. I really wish there were more books like this.

  6. It was incredibly intense! I was just riveted. I enjoyed the heck out of the format. I thought it was so well-done, from all the subject lines and the timings of the emails to the content of the emails themselves. It was something i just related to so much, how it's a form of communication that always feels like it's not enough, how you can just feel so invisible, waiting and helpless, when the other person's going through all these problems and you can't be there in person for them, how it's so much more immediate than letters and yet it seems all the more agonising that you should have to wait for a reply. I want mooooore of this format.

  7. Maybe I'll do that, then, try something else before reading this one. Really am intrigued though!
    Ohh, I can cry quite easily at books too! :)


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