The Crazy Man – Pamela Porter – 176 pages
It’s 1965 on a small Saskatchewan farm when Emmaline’s dog Prince runs in front of her father’s tractor. Emmaline leaps in to save him, without thinking, and is caught under the tractor in his stead. Her father, torn with grief and guilt over his daughter’s crippling injury, shoots Prince and runs away; Emmaline and her mother are left alone on the farm. Desperate, Emmaline’s mother hires Angus from the local mental hospital to do the heavy field work, and in spite of the wild rumors and prejudices of a small town, Emmaline discovers that Angus may be exactly what their family needs.
I love a good novel in verse, and The Crazy Man is a really good novel in verse. It was a well-chosen gift from someone who always picks excellent books for me, and I’m glad she found it, because otherwise it might never have crossed my path. You’ve got the Karen Hesse Out of the Dust vibe going on here, historical fiction in free verse, and I adored it. You have a really light touch, with a lot of plain language that’s beautiful in its starkness, and a lot of subtlety. I love the way you use the simplest actions and body language to convey a character’s inner workings–it’s a style I aspire to, but I’m usually just too in love with the sound of my own words to pull it off. 😉 You’ve written a painful yet hopeful book about loss, a gentle statement about prejudice and mental illness, and a great introduction for people who don’t like or “don’t get” poetry, all in one slim volume. Well done, you get four stars!
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