A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Readers get a sense of what it means to be bipolar by watching Izzy cycle up into mania and then down into depression. They'll learn something about treatment and also that the illness runs in families.
The characters may drink, swear, and do other impulsive things, but at its heart, this is the story of a girl learning to accept her mental illness and a boy standing by her side through it all.
Positive Role Models
Connor remains a true friend to Izzy, eventually telling his therapist mom about his concerns and even alerting Izzy's mother when Izzy is in danger.
Violence & Scariness
A character sets a fire, and there's a suicide attempt with a pill overdose.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Connor and Izzy engage in a lot of sexy banter and discuss their sex lives with each other, including Connor's oral sex with a girlfriend who later says she's a lesbian and his kiss with his male best friend. Izzy has a mostly sexual relationship with a man who turns out to be married; she also has sex with strangers and accuses Connor of wanting to have sex with her.
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Lots of "f--k" and other swear words, including "piss" and "crap" and the crude insult "douchebag."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Izzy's brother is a heroin addict who has overdosed and is sent to rehab. Connor and Izzy both drink, and Izzy admits to snorting something during a manic episode.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Crazy features a series of email exchanges between a bipolar teen and a boy she connected with during summer camp. There's swearing ("f--k," "piss," crap") and racy talk as they discuss personal details, including family stuff (Izzy has a gay sister and a brother who's struggling with drug addiction) and their sex lives (Connor kisses a male best friend, and Izzy has random hook-ups with strangers). Throughout Izzy's manic and depressive cycles, Connor tries to be a good friend, eventually involving her family and helping stop her suicide attempt.
Is It Any Good?
Author Amy Reed takes on a difficult task with CRAZY in trying to make a series of letters between two teens come alive for readers. This format zaps some of the energy from the story, and the book ends up feeling overly long. Even so, readers will get a good primer on what it's like to have bipolar disorder -- or to love someone who does. Even as Izzy learns to deal with her diagnosis, she knows that "anything can trigger an episode -- stress, too much caffeine, not enough sleep, lack of a consistent schedule, arguments with loved ones, loss of a pet, a loud noise, too many donuts, clowns, roller skating. Maybe not the last few, but you see what I mean."
Crazy may seem a bit too issue-oriented for some readers, but it could be a good starting place for discussions about mental illness, suicide prevention, and how to help friends in need. Reed has previously written about teens in trouble in her novels Clean (about teens in rehab), and Beautiful, which is about a teen using drugs.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.