A Teenager Struggles With Her Mother’s Mental Illness in “Crazy”

A Teenager Struggles With Her Mother’s Mental Illness in “Crazy”

Linda Vigen Phillips’ poetic novel Crazy takes readers on an incredibly poignant journey through one teenager’s struggle with living with a mentally ill parent in the 1960s.

On the outside, Laura is a normal 15-year-old growing up in the ‘60s, but she hides a terrible secret from her friends: her mother suffers from mental illness. To make matters worse, the rest of her family absolutely refuses to discuss the previous breakdowns or erratic behavior. As an adult, Laura is an artist like her mother, but she’s terribly afraid the one day she will become mentally ill and suffer a breakdown. However, art becomes her refuge as Laura learns to come to terms with her mother’s grueling battle with her  illness.

Phillips’ brutally honest verse explores the heavy stigma that being diagnosed with mental illness has in our society, especially in the ‘60s where it was hushed up and families refused to acknowledge it for fear of being ostracized by their peers.

However, even though the author minces no word about the effect mental illness has on both the sufferer and their relatives, she also provides hope too. Laura’s use of art as a coping technique to help her come to terms with her mother’s struggle will provide hope for readers who either battle their own mental illness or are watching a loved one duke it out with their brain chemistry.

Top image by Isabelle Smillie.

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