Little, Brown & Company, 2013
From the Publisher:Love can be a trouble word for some people. Crazy is also a trouble word. I should know. You've never met anyone exactly like twelve-year-old Sarah Nelson. While most of her friends obsess over Harry Potter, she spends her time writing letters to Atticus Finch. She collects trouble words in her diary. Her best friend is a plant. And she's never known her mother, who left when Sarah was two. Since then, Sarah and her dad have moved from one small Texas town to another, and not one has felt like home. Everything changes when Sarah launches an investigation into her family's Big Secret. She makes unexpected new friends and has her first real crush, and instead of a "typical boring Sarah Nelson summer," this one might just turn out to be extraordinary.
My Take:This is a quieter story that makes you think about family and different kinds of family situations. I felt a lot of compassion and sympathy for Sarah as I read about how she deals with her family troubles. The first person narration of the story worked well because she has a compelling voice. There are some references to the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and I wondered if this might turn away some middle school students who haven’t read that one.
As I writer, I’d read this novel again to see how the author added unique details to build Sarah’s character.
“You’ve never met anyone like me.”
“If you want to know, I have a fake diary and a real diary. The fake diary is the decoy, the one you hide in plain sight.”
“I want to take off my sandals and walk on the newly cut grass, feel the start of summer under my feet, maybe follow the warm tar lines in the middle of the street.”
“At home, there is a messed up girl I see in the bathroom mirror, mascara all smeary and out of place.”
Karen Harrington lives in Dallas, TX. She started writing when she was
Sure Signs of Crazy is Karen Harrington’s first middle grade book. It evolved when she began asking herself questions about the daughter in her book for adults, Janeology.
In an interview at the Haunted Orchid blog, Karen Harrington talks about the writing process: “For me, novel writing is the most difficult when you have that gap between what you imagine the story can be and what you have on the page. Revising is all about closing that gap.”
For more info, visit Karen Harrington’s website.
You can find more Marvelous Middle Grade Monday books by checking out Shannon Messenger’s blog! Shannon is the founder of Marvelous Middle Grade Monday and the author of the middle grade novels, Keeper of the Lost Cities and Exile (Keeper of the Lost Cities #2).