Bookshelf Blurb: What defines crazy? Who defines normal? The what and who of crazy is discovered within our souls. What is your kind of crazy?
America’s Review: In an attempt to have the best Promposal ever, Hank Kirby lights sparklers on fire to spell the word “PROM” in a girl’s yard. But the sparklers end up igniting the mulch ,which surrounds the tree, and before he realizes his sparklers are causing a major fire, Hank yells out the name of the girl who comes to the window to discover her house is on fire while the body attached to the voice is fleeing in the night.
My Kind of Crazy by Robin Reul is laugh-out-loud hilarious, creating an authentic high school setting with realistic characters and situations. From beginning to end, readers will be charmed by Hank, who is not the most attractive or popular kid, but helps define what is crazy when nothing in high school, not even a well researched Promposal, can go right.
Hank lost his mom and brother due to a freak car accident, for which he blames himself. His dad, already a borderline alcoholic prior to the accident, soon becomes a raging alcoholic after losing half of his family. Hank lives in the shadow of his deceased brother and cannot do anything right in the eyes of his father.
Soon Hank is befriended by Peyton, an eyewitness to the Promposal who thinks they have something in common: Pyromania. As if Hank’s luck couldn’t get any more crazy, he knows he has to accept her friendship so she doesn’t rat him out.
The girl at the window, Amanda, just knows this fire wasn’t an accident, but a Romeo/Juliet romantic gesture to woo her. She creates a website asking for the boy who did this to come forward and she will take him to Prom as his reward for capturing her heart.
Hank, his best friend, and 573 other guys, enter the website questionnaire to have the beautiful and popular Amanda take them to prom. Hank knows he was the guilty party, but soon realizes he is falling for the crazy Peyton. Who defines crazy? Is crazy okay if you are surrounded by it and president of the club?
I love the phrase ‘batshit crazy’ because it defines so many moments you can’t put into words. And I especially loved it when Hank states that Peyton is his kind of ‘batshit crazy.’ The soul connection between Peyton and Hank is encouraging for others who think they are a lost cause and are ‘crazy.’
In the classroom: I taught many students who were cutters. I only had one in over 15 years who was into fire. I had several more who liked to drive fast, do drugs and get drunk. All of these kids were GOOD kids, but had some kind of crazy going on in their brains. Some of them boasted about their behaviors, but most of them were introverted and had amazing grades. Who would have thought they were troubled within their minds because of their definition of ‘normal.’
When Robin Reul created Hank Kirby, she made him an authentic teenager with a hidden and amazing talent. Hank is an artist, but his artistry is in creating comics. The pictures and the storyline are awesome; however, he doesn’t believe they are worthy of the paper on which he creates them. It is the love of a girl who suffers from her own insecurities who shows Hank his work is outstanding. Without his knowledge or consent Peyton takes Hank’s comics and sends them away for a college admission to the Boston College of Fine Arts.
Many of your students have hidden talents and are scared to show it. By showing their skill sets, they open themselves up for ridicule, embarrassment and devastation. By keeping their talents hidden they will never know their true worth.
What assignment can you give in a unit to allow creativity to shine? I know I had a young man once who could sing, and man, could he sing, I had him audition for the musical without an audience. It was just the student and the teacher; it made all the difference. It was this pivotal moment which helped him confess to his talent and gain a scholarship to a community college. This may not be the case for every student, but for Hank Kirby it took someone having an ounce of faith in him to help him believe in himself.
My Kind of Crazy by Robin Reul (Sourcebooks Fire | 9781492631767 | April 5, 2016)