Crazy Love You
by Lisa Unger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I won an ARC for this from Goodreads which doesn't influence my review. This was a hard one to rate. It was more of a 3 to 3.5 for my own tastes but writing wise, the fourth star is warranted. I really wanted to like Ian and I did up to a point. I'm a sucker for a tragic back story and boy, does he ever have that. I'm also a huge comic book/graphic novel reader so the fact he is an indie graphic novelist was a big plus for me.
However, Ian is a bit hard to like. Let's face it, many books (especially YA and romances) have a rose-colored view of the angry boy with a tragic past. Ian is not that. He's far more real and that's one of things that makes him harder to like. He's deeply flawed. He's by his own admission an asshole and an addict. He takes pills to make him focus, weed to mellow him out, booze, whatever it takes. This is probably a more honest, if ugly, look at what that tragic past does to a kid. But it also leaves me wondering why Megan wants him (beside the 'she's a care taker' excuse).
Ian's story opens when he tells us of how he met Megan and wooed her. She's a would-be novelist from a highly successful family of authors (and an only child) working as a nanny when Ian sees her in the park with the child she takes care of. It's a rocky start but once they get going, things are still not easy.
The story flips back and forth between his past and his life with Megan. Without giving too much away, let's just say Ian's mother suffers from schizophrenia and post partum psychosis and has been institutionalized for years. Ian met Priss during this dark time. Priss is an angry girl from The Hollows, a bucolic New York town, that he met in the woods on his property near the abandoned house and graveyard. Priss appoints herself his protector and back then Ian needed her. He was fat, acne-ridden, not athletic and prey to your typical high school bullies. Priss protected him. As he got older, Ian got into shape but Priss was always there for him, beating up drug dealers and things like that.
Ian parlays his relationship with Priss into a well-paying indie graphic novel up to be made into a movie, Fatboy and Priss
. In fact it's so successful he can afford an apartment that costs six grand a month. I have to admit that bugged me a bit. When I said I'm into graphic novels, I meant I know a lot of indie graphic novelists and none of them could come close to this (Ms. Unger researched it, naming her sources so I'm guessing this can happen but when something is counter to your own experiences it's tough to buy into them).
But now is the time to separate himself from Priss who doesn't like sweet, kind Megan. However, as we learn and I don't want to spoil too much, we're not sure if Priss is real, a ghost or a multiple personality. Schizophrenia does run in families and Ian has black out episodes of rage. So as his life begins to implode you're left wondering is it Priss or is it really Ian?
Now this will be a spoiler because I think it's important to mention because it's a trigger for a lot of people. So if you don't want to be spoiled you can stop reading now.
I had two rather big problems with the book in the middle chapters. One was it started going down overly familiar lines of stalkers such as mysterious draining of bank accounts, non-payment of rent, calling people to say Ian had lost his book contract etc (which is oddly not handled fully at the end. I guess we're to assume this was all drug related). I could handle that but it felt a bit slow.
What almost stopped me from reading was an on-screen rape by Ian. (Keep in mind this is an ARC so it might not be in the final product but I'm betting it is). I do not want to read stories where the protagonist is a rapist. Granted it starts as consensual sex but quickly progresses to rough non-consensual sex and Priss accuses him of being a rapist afterwards. Their relationship is dark and raw throughout the book but this nearly was a deal breaker for me. Keep in mind we don't know yet if Priss is real, ghost or imaginary. I kept reading because a) I did get this in exchange for a review and I always finish those b) other than that, it was well written and c) the power went out and frankly what else did I have to do but finish this.
I did enjoy the book over all. I thought the middle was a bit longish. I started feeling the length after a while and just wanted Priss to start doing whatever it is she was going to do. Once he got to the Hollows for the last time, the book really took off. The ending was very good if a bit too pat and happy for how damaged these characters are.View all my reviews