Today is CRAZY’s publication birthday, but it was really born over two years ago when I started scribbling notes about a sort of love story told in emails. I had vague notions of unreliable narrators and emotional disintegration. In the back of my mind, I think I also wanted it to be a kind of apology. An explanation. So Izzy was born–a troubled girl who did not know how to be loved. And then there was Connor–the boy who loved her.
Most mental illnesses, including bipolar disorder, start displaying their first symptoms in one’s teen years–around Izzy’s age. I was fourteen when I started taking Prozac for my depression. I came of age in the first wave of medicated kids, when every day there would be a new headline about kids on Prozac, kids on Ritalin. When I was in college, OCD seemed to be the big thing. I have watched this trend grow over the years, more and more kids diagnosed with mood disorders, more kids on medication that alters their fragile brain chemistry. Whether or not these diagnoses and prescriptions are always warranted, one thing is very certain–a lot of kids are in a lot of pain.
I can honestly say that medication saved my life as a teen. At age fourteen, I was planning my suicide. I got very close to following through. But as strained as my relationship with my parents was at the time (as strained as all teens’ relationships are with their parents), I somehow gathered up the courage to tell my mom what was going on. Some glimmer of hope remained, some knowledge that I was loved, some curiosity about what would happen tomorrow. I asked for help and I got it, and that help saved my life.
It is my greatest wish that anyone out there who is feeling this kind of hopelessness and fear finds the brave place inside them and ask for help before the light of hope burns out. If this book can inspire just one reader to do that, my time on this planet will have been worth something.
I recently did an interview with Kari at A Good Addiction blog (you can read the full interview here). She asked me a great question: “Who do you think needed the other the most, Izzy or Connor?” My answer was this: It’s hard to say; they both needed each other so much. Izzy, in the end, may have needed Connor to literally save her. But she also just needed him to see her, and to care enough to do the hard thing and confront her. But Connor needed Izzy to push his buttons the way she did. Ultimately, he learned how to be brave, how to do the difficult thing instead of being passive. He risked losing everything in order to do the right thing. There’s nothing braver than that.
I believe we are all partners in the lives of those we love. We owe it to them to be honest, even when it’s hard.
To celebrate the release of CRAZY, I want to give away THREE COPIES to people who are brave–to enter, comment below with an example of when you’ve been brave and did the right thing even when it was hard. I will pick three people at random (U.S. and Canada only, please). The winners will be announced June 18th. I can’t wait to be inspired by your answers!
Finally, I want to dedicate this book to all the Izzys and Connors of the world, to everyone who has ever felt crazy or in love. I dedicate it to my husband Brian, who has loved me through everything.
Congratulations to the winners of the CRAZY giveaway: Rachel, Lexie, and Alicia Marie! I will be contacting you soon. Thank you everyone for your beautiful answers, and for your courage. I hope we can all continue to be brave and do the right thing.
The Bay Area Brit says
Here’s to getting help. I’m not entering the contest. I plan on buying the book. I just want to congratulate you and wish you continued success in your writing career.
Hannah Moskowitz says
Beautiful, beautiful post, Amy.
As a bipolar chick myself, I’m SO hesitant to read anything that deals with it, normally, because I’m so sensitive to misrepresentations of it. I trusted you, and I’m so glad I did. CRAZY is amazing.
Thank you so much, Hannah. Your trust means the world to me.
Hey there. I don’t want to enter the contest; I’ve already gotten the book and already read it. I just wanted to tell you that it’s been a huge inspiration to me already. I’m 21 years old, but I can’t seem to find “adult fiction” that speaks to me as much as this YA novel does. It seems that as adults we’re supposed to only worry about things like finances and apartments and credit card bills and getting married, but the truth is, for some of us every day is a struggle.
There was a guy in my class in high school who had a drinking problem… bad enough that he’d bring alcohol to school in Fruitopia bottles. He joked about it, but, well, you know. I ended up turning him in, so he could get help… even if I did it sort of cowardly and anonymously, so he wouldn’t actually know it was me. Sadly, after he was expelled, I never did find out what happened to him, but at least he had the chance.
Awesome post, Amy, and aw yay for referencing my interview. =)
Lexie B. says
Really, really beautiful post. Authors like you and books like this are the reason I so love YA, and reading in general.
And regarding being brave, and doing the right thing even when it’s hard–I have a friend who suffers from depression. At first, it wasn’t too obvious. At first, I asked questions, but when she had answers ready, I didn’t press,
But then she missed a day for “sickness,” and came in with her wrists a map of scars. Her parents didn’t know. She begged me not to tell them, or anyone. Said it was just a one-time thing, wouldn’t happen again. And I didn’t want to betray her trust. I didn’t want to hurt her. But I knew that staying silent would hurt her far more, so I told her parents, and today, she’s on medication. She’s pushing through.
alicia marie says
what i had to do at the time seemed like more of it being the wrong thing to do, but now it’s easier to see the reasoning behind it. My sister has suffered from severe depression for as long as i can remember and has attempted suicide at least 3 times (i really did not want to keep counting after it reached that point). The last time she did, after having her stomach pumped, she was forced to be admitted to the hospital in the psych ward. Her doctors said that we couldn’t see her or talk to her for a while and that being apart would help her. It was hard for my parents and me to understand why her family staying away from her would help and not hurt her, but we did it and all of us, including her, managed to make it through and come out better on the other side. i don’t know that this really makes me brave since i really didn’t do anything, but it was pretty difficult to be in a situation like that and not be able to do anything at all to help her except leave her alone. They put her on medication that seemed to fit her better and do a pretty good job of controlling the depression. She also has a great psychiatrist that she feels really comfortable with and does a good job with my sister. She still has a lot of trouble with her depression, but hasn’t tried to commit suicide in almost 2 years. So i guess sometimes doctors do actually know what they’re talking about : )
I’m so excited to get the chance to read this book. I’ve read your other two and they were amazing!
I think the bravest thing I’ve ever done was standing up to my stepmom. Growing up, she did not treat me very well. She was always making rude comments about my mom and pointing out every flaw I had. It got worse and worse as I grew up, but I never said anything. I thought everything she said about me was the truth and worked harder to live up to what she wanted. This past year I finally stood up to her. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever done, but I think it worked out in the end. We’re not on speaking terms, but I’m ok with that. This is the first time in my life that I don’t have someone telling me everything that’s wrong with me, and it feels pretty nice.
roses7184 (@roses7184) says
Something brave? Definitely the time that I reported child abuse while working at my elementary school. Sure, the phone call is easy enough. It’s getting to that point though, knowing that there might be possible backlash from the parents, and still following through. I was terrified, but when I looked into those little eyes of that child I knew it was the right thing to do. No child should ever have to be put through physical abuse. Ever.
Julia Cabrera says
Well, I don’t know if this would count as brave but it defenitly had an impact on me.
This year I did something I shouldn’t have. I fell in love with the new kid in my 7th grade class. His name is Jared. Everyday after he came I had to listen to everyone talk about how “cute” he is. I wanted to talk to him but I couldn’t. I felt like he’d think I’m weird. Or if we became friends he would never think of me as “cute”.
Every day I looked for him in the hallway careful to make sure our eyes would not meet. A few weeks pass and I figured out that not only was he on my bus to and from school but that he was my neighbor.
It took me two weeks to have the guts to talk to him. And when I did… I forgot to tell him my name! In my head I was like ” I can’t believe it! Now I have to face it again!”
So I did.:) And we exchanged cell phone numbers. As of now Jared and I are best friends. Sometimes I think, if I didnt force myself to talk to him that day would have ever?
And of coarse after I talked to him all the other girls on my bus started to talk to him also. I don’t have to worry about him thinking I’m weird anytime soon;). As a matter of fact he told me hes had a crush on me the hole time! And that he thinks I’m cute!
Because of my bravery of going and talking to him we are now best friends and once my mom lets me… Haha we could be a couple;) I can’t imagine where we would stand if I hadnt talked to him that day.:)
Well thanks for reading my story!:)
Julia Cabrera says
*would I have ever (sorry typo)
Julia Cabrera says
Haha and by “shouldn’t have” in the first sentence I mean didn’t plan on:)
Abby Sharp says
I visited this page yesterday hoping to enter this contest, until I saw that I would have to provide a time where I was brave to have a chance at winning this fabulous-sounding book. I searched my memory for a minute, because there had to be just ONE time where I was brave. However, I am not a brave person. I couldn’t even think of a single time where I had shown that I was.
So then I went to work. And it was there that I realized, hey! I am brave!
I am seventeen years old and just finished my junior year of high school. My town and school are both very, very small. Many of the kids I attend school with believe in the same values as their parents, such as a white person should not marry a black person, anyone from ethnic descent is an illegal immigrant and should be deported immediately, etc.
I am one of the very few liberal people in this whole town. It was only yesterday that I realized that the time when some kids in the library were throwing the word f** around like it was nothing and I explained to them where that word originated from and why it is so offensive, I was being brave. Or when I gave a very opinionated oral report over women’s rights to a class which included a boy who I had heard say to some friends earlier in the day, “If a woman should be allowed to vote and have all the same rights as I do, then I should be allowed to hit her.” He came up to me later in the day to tell me that he found my report very interesting and actually really enjoyed it. I was brave then too, and my bravery paid off. Those girls in the library don’t use slurs offensive to the gay community anymore, and that boy no longer talks of hitting women. Even little things like asking one person to not say the r word because it offends me, is a brave thing that makes a difference.
I am brave because I stand up for my views. I am brave because I stand up for others. I am brave because I am the change I want to see in the world.
Abby, this is such a wonderful post! It’s people like you who can stand up for what you believe is that make change possible in the world. Thank you so much for your bravery! I think most people, like your classmates, just need someone like you to explain why something is offensive. Most people don’t even realize their language is hurtful until someone tells them.
I absolutely loved this book! I didn’t want it to end…any way there will be a sequel coming out? I would love to know what happens next in Isabel’s and Connie’s relationship!!
Sorry autocorrect.. Connor’s*