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by Nora Raleigh Baskin
HarperCollins, 2006
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D. on Jan 15th 2007

In the Company of Crazies

Mia Singer is a talented 13-year-old who often is top of her class.  Yet after one of her schoolmates dies in a car accident, she starts getting into trouble and her grades slip.  So her parents decide to send her to a boarding school for children with emotional difficulties.  That's why she is "in the company of crazies."  She meets children about her own age who have all sorts of problems: obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, autism, conduct disorder, and of course attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.  The school, Mountain Laurel, has just a small staff, and is run by an older woman, Gretchen.  The children do some bookwork but they also work in the garden, do art, and write journals.  There's some aggression between the boys, but for the most part they get on well with each other and even manage to help each other when their feelings become very intense. 

Nora Baskin's novel for children is simply written and goes quickly.  The characterization is rather sketchy -- we never get a strong sense of the relationships between Mia and her parents, or even a clear idea about why the death of her friend affected her so much more than her classmates.  It is an interesting glimpse of a slightly unusual approach to treating children's emotional troubles, and all of the young people are portrayed sympathetically, even when they are unpleasant to others.  In the Company of Crazies is a compassionate book showing childhood mental illness, and will be especially interesting to young people who have gone through experiences similar to those of Mia.

 

Link: Author website

 

© 2007 Christian Perring. All rights reserved.

 

Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Academic Chair of the Arts & Humanities Division and Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island. He is also editor of Metapsychology Online Reviews.  His main research is on philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.




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