Synopses & Reviews
Wednesday, September 5, 1973: The first day of Karl Shoemaker's senior year in stifling Lightsburg, Ohio. For years, Karl's been part of what he calls "the Madman Underground" - a group of kids forced (for no apparent reason) to attend group therapy during school hours. Karl has decided that senior year is going to be different. He is going to get out of the Madman Underground for good. He is going to act - and be - Normal. But Normal, of course, is relative. Karl has five after-school jobs, one dead father, one seriously unhinged drunk mother . . . and a huge attitude. Welcome to a gritty, uncensored rollercoaster ride, narrated by the singular Karl Shoemaker.
"High school senior Karl Shoemaker just wants to be normal. Since fourth grade, Karl has been unable to escape the stigma of the Madman Underground, a school therapy group for screwed-up kids (he earned the nickname 'Psycho' after cutting up a classmate's rabbit in seventh grade). But with a drunken, hippie mom who believes that Nixon is in cahoots with aliens and who steals Karl's hard-earned money, a horde of pet cats that leave droppings everywhere and a claustrophobic hometown that still worships his deceased father (the former mayor), Karl's quest for normalcy seems doomed. In his YA debut, Barnes masterfully turns what should be a depressing tale about teenage misfits who are regularly abused, molested or neglected into a strangely heartwarming story about a kid who refuses to suck the lemons life keeps handing him, the bonds of friendship and the lengths a son will go to protect his mother. The language is R-rated, but with Breakfast Club like realism, Barnes delivers scenes from which, like a car wreck, readers will be unable to look away. Ages 14 up. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Rarely will you read something so lovingly vulgar, so fiercely warmhearted, and so exuberantly expansive . . . the culmination comes off like a teenage One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
, starred review
"His narration is so easy and engaging, so sweet and funny, so astonishingly truthful that teens will rip through these 500-plus pages and want more." -School Library Journal, starred review
"Darkly comic . . . as troubled, relevant, relatable and hilarious as J.D. Salinger." -Los Angeles Times
"Without passing judgment, Averett addresses the issue of free choice versus protective care. . . Readers will have no trouble recognizing the impact of Cameron's hallucinations and his burning need for independence."
"Cameron's first-person narration allows access to an absorbing glimpse of schizophrenic behavior. . . . Thoughtful and eye-opening."
"This is a well-written, taut, and empathetic novel that provides readers with an unnerving vicarious experience."
—School Library Journal
"This novel is a nuanced treatment of a difficult topic, sustained by narrative drive."
"Averett does a good job of developing Cameron's situations in a way that helps the reader understand the true depth of the struggle that Cameron is facing; he uses language that makes the internal conflict explode off the page. This is a raw, real, quick read that looks into darkness of mental illness."
—VOYA, 4Q 3P J S
"[Averett's] accessible writing makes Cameron and his struggle vivid to young readers, and they'll find this an eye-opening walk in somebody else's shoes."
—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
For years, Karl has been part of the Madman Underground--kids forced to attend group therapy during school hours. Karl decides that for his senior year, he is going to get out of the group for good. He is going to act--and be--Normal. But Normal, of course, is relative.
A contemporary YA drama about a young man suffering from Schizophreniform disorder, who falls into a love triangle with a girl in his class...and a girl in his head.
“Mad crashes into happy and sad bounces off of guilty until they all live in a big smoky heap in my mind.” Fourteen-year-old Cameron Galloway of Lexington, Washington, understands that he has schizophreniform disorder and needs to take pills to quiet the voices in his head. But he likes the voices, especially the gentle, encouraging voice of The Girl. Conflicted, he turns to his friend Nina Savage, who is clinically depressed and can relate to his horror of the numbing effects of medication. They make a pact to ditch the pills. At first they feel triumphant, but soon Camerons untreated mind goes haywire—to disastrous effect.
About the Author
Edward Averett was born in the Pacific Northwest and, except for four years in the wilds of Spain, has lived in the state of Washington all his life. He is the author of Homing and The Rhyming Season.