Sure Signs of Crazy
By Darienne Stewart,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Unforgettable story of girl moving beyond her tragic past.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Sarah's letters to Atticus Finch will surely motivate readers to seek out To Kill a Mockingbird -- both book and film. Sarah loves words, and definitions for several of her newly discovered words are peppered throughout the book.
Sarah has grown accustomed to being treated as a victim, but she redefines herself on her own terms. She's a great example of the extraordinary courage on a very personal scale, from confronting her father about his drinking to boldly proclaiming her feelings for an older boy. Despite her isolation, she's keenly aware of the people around her. Her concern for a neighbor leads to a very important relationship for both of them.
Positive Role Models
Charlotte and Finn treat Sarah with respect and compassion. Finn offers much-needed friendship to Sarah when she's in need. Sarah's father is often disappointing, but he agrees to enter rehab and shows a willingness to try to change their lives for the better. A teacher's kindness toward Sarah reverberates throughout the story.
Violence & Scariness
Sarah was nearly drowned as a toddler by her mother, who killed her twin. Another character relates that his father committed suicide. Sarah sees a young man get overly aggressive on a date with her friend, whose brother physically intervenes.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Sarah is intrigued but naive about sex. She's half-heartedly on a mission to be French-kissed over the summer, as part of a pact made with a friend following a "boy party" they planned. She's fascinated with romance novels, and is curious to understand romantic love and sexual relationships. She gets her period and turns to an older friend to help her get supplies. There's a funny reference to woman with "pendulous boobs." A peripheral character is bullied online with accusations that he's gay.
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A few coarse words include "sucks," "boobs," "heck," and "jerk," and a few times the narrator refers to curse words that rhyme with something less offensive.
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Products & Purchases
Pop culture and brand references include Claire's, Walgreens, iPod, Coke, M&Ms, Gatorade, Pop-Tarts, Chuck E. Cheese, Dairy Queen, Harry Potter, Weather Channel, Facebook, Jim Beam, Dr. Pepper, Pepto-Bismol, Funyuns, Google, FedEx, Cokes, Taco Bell, CVS, Good Housekeeping, Jell-O, TicTac, Sonic, Beatles, Bob Seger, and Dreamsicles.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Sarah lies to a friend and claims that she's smoked cigarettes. Her father has a serious drinking problem that interferes with his ability to parent.
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Parents Need to KnowParents need to know that Sure Signs of Crazy is written from the perspective of a 12-year-old girl whose mentally ill mother killed her twin brother and tried to kill her when they were toddlers. Sarah's father is an alcoholic who means well but can only be counted on to let her down. Sarah snoops, lies, and steals, but not maliciously. She develops a crush on her 19-year-old neighbor and discovers romance novels. She gets her period and is coached by a college student on getting supplies and managing the discomfort.
Where to Read
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What's the Story?
Is It Any Good?
Talk to Your Kids About ...
- Families can talk about Sarah's letters to Atticus Finch. What fictional character would you want to write to? Try writing a few letters to the character you've chosen.
- The author wrote a book for adults about the same family, focusing on Sarah's mother's crime. Parents might want to read that book and talk with their children about how they view the story from that perspective.
How would this story play out told from yet another perspective -- maybe Finn's, or Grandma's?
- Author: Karen Harrington
- Genre: Coming of Age
- Topics: Friendship, Great Girl Role Models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: August 20, 2013
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 9 - 12
- Number of pages: 288
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: July 12, 2017
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Where to Read
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