Sure Signs of Crazy, by Karen Harrington (2013)

Genre: Contemporary
Interest level: 10-14
Sure Signs of CrazyI absolutely adore this word-loving protagonist who is both daring and timid as she navigates the rocky path life has set out for her. Sarah Nelson is turning twelve. Her best friend is off to camp, and it looks like she’ll again be sent to her grandparents for the summer. Her father teaches at college, and her mother, well, that’s the secret that drives dad and daughter to move from town to town, and that has Dad reaching for the bottle. Sarah’s mother, we soon learn, tried to drown her twin children when they were just two. Sarah survived, but Simon died. Sarah has never known her mother who now lives under psychiatric care, and her father won’t talk about the crazy. It’s a “trouble word,” one of many Sarah has listed. She loves words, and irritates her dad to no end by circling words she discovers in books. She keeps two diaries, a real one and a red herring to lead snoopers astray. Sarah worries about inheriting the worst of her parents traits – crazy from her mum and alcoholism from her dad. She writes letters to Atticus Finch, the dad she wishes she had, and spends the summer awkwardly transitioning from childhood to adolescent. It turns out to be anything but “a typical, boring Sarah Nelson summer.” She gets her period, falls in love, and comes to terms with her past in a brilliant story that is laugh-out-loud funny, with moments of heartbreaking honesty.
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About Michelle Mallette
I'm just trying to keep track of the books I've read - what I liked and what isn't worth re-reading. My work as a librarian has included youth services so you'll find a wide range of interests from picture books and teen dystopia to adult sci-fi, road trip novels, and nonfiction. Comments and communication is always welcome.

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