by Robin Reul
Reviewed by SA
Hold on to yours hats, ’cause here comes a fun novel that will whisk you away! If you need a good YA in your life, one that runs deep and stays with you long after you’ve finished the last page, then you’re going to love “My Kind of Crazy”, a sweet, thoughtful, wonderful novel about fire and friendship.
Despite the best of intentions, seventeen-year old, wisecracking Hank Kirby can’t quite seem to catch a break. It’s not that he means to screw things up all the time, it just happens. A lot. Case in point: his attempt to ask out the girl he likes literally goes up in flames when he spells “Prom” in sparklers on her lawn…and nearly burns down her house.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Peyton Breedlove, a brooding loner and budding pyromaniac, witnesses the whole thing. Much to Hank’s dismay, Peyton takes an interest in him—and his “work.” The two are thrust into an unusual friendship, but their boundaries are tested when Hank learns that Peyton is hiding some dark secrets, secrets that may change everything he thought he knew about Peyton.
When I first started this novel, I thought it was a comedy: as the book begins, Hank has just failed his promposal in the most epic dimensions… by lighting a garden on fire. The sparklers were a good idea when he saw them online, but now the dry grass has caught fire, and he’s been seen by Peyton, the girl across the street. So immediately, I thought this was going to be a ‘haha’ kind of book, where Hank needs to somehow make amends and keep his secret… but instead, it grew into something much more.
It is a story about growth. While it starts off funny, slowly you begin to realize how much depth these teenagers have, and how much they begin to grow up and deal with their conflicts. It’s a book about family, a book about crazy, a book about facing your issues. And it’s also a book about love, thought romantic love comes last.
Hank is crazy about comics, and has been working on one for years, but dealing with his father’s alcoholism and the loss of his mother and brother has left him thinking he has no real future. Peyton is an outsider with a love of fire, with a mother who doesn’t care for her, and a mother’s boyfriend who’s borderline abusive. Neither have good home lives. But the friendship that grows between them is beautiful.
The supporting characters are fun, but not as well defined as Hank and Peyton. Nick is Hank’s friend, and crushes hard on Peyton. You have Hank’s dad, the alcoholic, and his Dad’s girlfriend, Monica, whom I love so much for being the most badass stripper I’ve ever seen in YA. You have a joint smoking teacher, possible mafia families, and of course, Amanda Carlisle, the girl Hank set the promposal off for in the first place.
What impressed me was how quickly the plot I expected quickly sank into the background: Amanda wanting to find who set off the sparklers through a not-very-accurate online quiz, Hank not wanting to come forward even though he has a witness… All this became secondary when Peyton came along.
Though some of the action seemed unrealistic – like Hank’s reaction to most of the things that Peyton does – this novel includes also some of the most down to earth moments in YA to date. The entire friendship that builds between Hank and Peyton before either of them actually realized it’s love is just fantastic, healthy, and human. It felt incredibly relatable.
My Kind Of Crazy comes out April 5th from Sourcebooks Fire. I highly recommend it, and think it might be some of the best High School YA I’ve ever read!