My Kind of Crazy by Robin Reul
Hank Kirby comes up with a great idea for asking popular Amanda Carlisle to the prom. How then does he manage, with just a box of sparklers, to light up Amanda Carlisle’s yard, bring on the fire department, and start schoolwide rumors–all without ever popping the question?
Hank says it’s because everything he does, he screws up. And, in fact, there is a witness to his romantic gesture gone wrong. Peyton Breedlove lives across from Amanda Carlisle. Unlike Amanda, Peyton is a loner, someone Hank doesn’t know, but now feels compelled to hang around and cater to. After all, won’t she tell on him if he doesn’t?
Peyton has many odd behaviors. Hank soon learns that she enjoys watching a good fire, striking matches, and burning her enemies in effigy (OK, burning her enemies in Barbies). She hints at the trouble in her life, which includes her mother’s series of boyfriends (Steve the Sociopath, Dave the Dealer, and now Pete the Deadbeat).
Hank’s home life has its own quirks. His mother has died and his dad has sunken in behavior and personal hygiene. His girlfriend, Monica, is an exotic dancer, one who thinks she can save men from self-destruction. Hank is betting on her to help his dad. Meanwhile, Hank works in private on his comic, Freeze Frame, which he hopes to publish.
Hank’s best friend, Nick, has the reputation of being the son of a mafia boss. He lives in a nice house, but secrets surround the source of the family’s income. Even good-natured Amanda has her secrets. Hank’s disaster is the beginning of an Amanda challenge among boys at the school to take credit for the deed and to take Amanda to the prom. With Nick hoping to get together with Peyton, we wonder how this crazy group of friends/acquaintances/frienemies will negotiate their futures-with or without each other.
Everyone has a bit of crazy spinning in his or her life. Maybe the best thing to do is to match craziness and learn how to deal with it.
High school housekeeping: I’ve been hoping to read My Kind of Crazy since the Ontario Teen Book Fest last year, when it was introduced to me. I’ve finally been able to get a hold of it. It’s a lot of fun to read and a lot of fun to root for the ‘crazies’ as they navigate high school cliques, culture and teen issues. It’s also interesting to see how the adults and their behaviors affect the lives of the teens. And yet, as everyone, more and more, gets their crazy on, there is true understanding of people’s faults and a poignant acceptance of life on its own terms. My Kind of Crazy has a certain joy to it, so I’m ordering multiple copies and book talks are coming up!