________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 17. . . .January 9, 2015


Beyond Crazy. (SideStreets).

Deb Loughead.
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer, 2014.
184 pp., pbk., hc. & ebook, $9.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (hc.), $7.95 (ebook).
ISBN 978-1-4594-0717-6 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4594-0718-3 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-4594-0719-0 (ebook).

Grades 7-12 / Ages 12-17.

Review by Stephanie Johnson.

** /4



I climb back through my window well after midnight. Then I sneak out of my bedroom to check on my mom, kicking junk out of the way as I go. She’s asleep on the sofa. I watch the rise and fall of her chest to make sure she’s still breathing. Sometimes it absolutely makes me want to cry.

My bedroom is the only space I can control, and I try to keep it neat. The kitchen, the dining room, the living room, the basement, my mom’s bedroom, it’s all the same. Every surface is covered with stuff, old magazines, newspapers, flyers, you name it. Bottles, boxes, food cartons with long-expired dates…

My older brother, Stan, and I never ever bring anyone over to our place. I’ve even hidden the worst of it from Karim and Lu. I can’t remember the last time they came over, and they stopped asking to visit ages ago. There’s an unwritten pact between Stan and me that Mom’s problem is something we’ll never discuss. There’s only so much you can do, only so much you can say, before you give up entirely.


Stelle, 16, cannot stand being stuck at home with her mother: her depressed mother who never leaves the couch, barely speaks and does nothing to care for her two children. Stelle’s brother is never home which leaves Stelle to navigate the heaps of clutter and garbage that litter the house and make sure that their mother is still breathing. Stelle’s only consolation is getting to pound away her worries on her drum set and write music with her two best friends. When Stelle comes home to find her mother unconscious on the floor, she begins to realize that things cannot go on as they are and that only her friends and family will be able to get her through this time.

     Beyond Crazy belongs to the Lorimer’s "SideStreets" series. The series is perfect for reluctant readers, producing high-interest, fast-paced and relevant novels that could appeal to a wide variety of teens. The notable feature of “SideStreets” books is that they typically deal with edgier topics like drugs, depression and sex. These realistic topics, which are issues teens today actually face, help in filling the gap in diverse and inclusive young adult literature. Beyond Crazy does just that with its authentic portrayal of depression and the ripples that affect those around it.

     While the plot moves at a fast pace and interest is maintained, the writing is clunky and the dialogue doesn’t flow well, making it difficult to read at times. The addition of song lyrics gave the novel a nice blend of prose and poetry which one does not often see and widened the appeal of the text. Stelle is a character that many teens could empathize with, and although she is female, her character is fairly gender neutral. The focus lies on the emotions she goes through and the issues that are plaguing her life. All in all, the text is one that could appeal to a variety of reluctant readers and deals with serious issues that need to be present in the young adult literature canon.


Stephanie Johnson is a graduate of the Master of Library and Information Studies Program from the University of Alberta.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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ISSN 1201-9364
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