Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Sure Signs of Crazy - Karen Harrington
Love can be a trouble word for some people. Crazy is also a trouble word.
I should know.
You've never met anyone exactly like twelve-year-old Sarah Nelson. While most of her friends obsess over Harry Potter, she spends her time writing letters to Atticus Finch. She collects trouble words in her diary. Her best friend is a plant. And she's never known her mother, who left when Sarah was two.
Since then, Sarah and her dad have moved from one small Texas town to another, and not one has felt like home.
Everything changes when Sarah launches an investigation into her family's Big Secret. She makes unexpected new friends and has her first real crush, and instead of a "typical boring Sarah Nelson summer," this one might just turn out to be extraordinary.
Lisa is wrong about kissing and love. It might make you pretty at first, but it makes you look stupid, too.
It's funny how you don't know you are a bunch of pieces until someone hugs you together.
This book makes you feel so many things at the same time! Sarah often wonders in the book if feeling two things in the same moment makes you crazy, and if that were the case this book would have definitely put me well into the category of madness.
It's definitely a character centric book. Not a lot actually happens action wise. A lot of what "happens" in the book are things that took place in Sarah's past, and observations of how the past has impacted the adults who surround her currently. It's just amazing to see how all the characters grow - but you aren't seeing them grow, you are seeing Sarah seeing them grow without her always recognizing the growth. Wow. Isn't that just a mind ...word I can't find a substitute for?
Karen Harrington did an absolute fantastic job of writing a 12 year-old narrator. There's a fine balance in showing the naivete of a preteen, but at the same time capturing the way children often know more than you'd think. Or how they only understand a part of a more mature subject. In a lot of ways Sarah reminds me of Scout from To Kill A Mockingbird. I'd say this is likely on purpose, as Sarah confides in Atticus Finch through letters. She's a little older than Scout was I think, but she still captures that sort of heartbreaking quality as she says things that show horrible events...but she says them in such a funny manner and with such a blunt focus that you're torn between laughter and feeling sort of horrified! It's difficult to describe, but if you've read To Kill a Mockingbird, you should understand what I mean. Sarah's voice is so incredibly sincere and it's just...well. I've already said that it's perfect for a 12 year-old who is going through some incredibly heart breaking situations. I don't have a better way to say it, other than that Sarah is probably the most sincere narrator I've come across in modern literature.
The only criticism I have is that Charlotte, Sarah's babysitter, acts less like someone in her 20's and more like someone who is sixteen. I mean, I'm in my 20's and she sounded like a kid I would have student taught. I had a hard time remembering that she was getting her PhD! But that is such a small quibble in the grand scheme of things. This book is just a really special book. It's a book that kids can read, and a book their parents will love too. It would be a wonderful book to pair with To Kill a Mockingbird...and everyone should read this. It's not just for people like me who read younger literature, it's the kind of book EVERYONE should read.
Read this. This is easily in my top 10 books for the year. Maybe even top 5? In any case. I repeat: read this!