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Sure Signs of Crazy
Cover of Sure Signs of Crazy
Sure Signs of Crazy
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A poignant and powerful coming of age story perfect for fans of Wonder and The Thing about Jellyfish


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.

A poignant and powerful coming of age story perfect for fans of Wonder and The Thing about Jellyfish


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.

Available formats-
  • Kindle Book
  • OverDrive Read
  • EPUB eBook
Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    4.8
  • Lexile:
    750
  • Interest Level:
    MG
  • Text Difficulty:
    3 - 4

Recommended for you

About the Author-
  • Karen Harrington was born in Texas, where she still lives with her husband and children. Sure Signs of Crazy is her first book for young readers. You can visit her online at www.karenharringtonbooks.com.
Reviews-
  • DOGO Books rozeb - The book is about a girl and her mom is crazy. And she isn't using the term lightly. Her dad's best friend is Jim Beam(a type of beer), and Sarah is thinking that she has sure signs of crazy. Of course, she doesn't, but she has convinced herself that she does. Her dad is going to ship her off to her grandparents house, like he does every summer, but she convinces him to let her stay at her friend Charlotte's house while her dad is at work. Meanwhile, Charlotte has a boyfriend who is taking up all her attention, and Sarah develops a crush on Charlotte's brother. This is a really great book!
  • Publisher's Weekly

    May 27, 2013
    In her middle-grade debut, Harrington revisits the family from her adult novel, Janeology, as she goes behind the scenes of a tabloid-headline story. Ten years ago, Sarah Nelson’s mother, Jane, attempted to drown Sarah and her twin brother, Simon, who didn’t survive. Now 12, Sarah has moved from town to town with her sad, alcoholic father, trying to escape media attention while her mother resides in a mental institution. Desperate to know more about her mother, but fearing insanity is genetic, Sarah monitors herself for “signs of crazy,” wondering if writing letters to Atticus Finch, confiding in her plant, and taking refuge on a tree stump in her yard qualify. She is also obsessed with word definitions; many appear in the book, accompanied by her pithy reflections. Over one watershed summer, Sarah tries to learn about being a woman from her 20-year-old neighbor, Charlotte; develops her first crush—on Charlotte’s 19-year-old brother, who shares her love of words; and struggles to figure out how to live as her mother’s daughter. Harrington skillfully portrays watchful, contemplative Sarah’s coming of age. Ages 9–up. Agent: Julia Kenny, Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency.

  • Kirkus

    May 15, 2013
    Worried that she will grow up to be crazy like her mother or alcoholic like her father, rising seventh-grader Sarah Nelson takes courage from Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, writing letters to Atticus Finch and discovering her own strengths. Sarah is a survivor. She survived her mother's attempt to drown her when she was 2 and the notoriety that has followed her and her father from one Texas town to another in the 10 years since. In a first-person, present-tense narration interspersed with definitions, diary entries and letters, she describes the events of the summer she turns 12, gets her period, develops a crush on a neighbor and fellow word lover, and comes to terms with her parents' failings. In her first middle-grade novel, Harrington revisits the characters of her adult thriller, Janeology (2008), to imagine what it might be like to be the child of a filicidal mother. Sarah's 12-year-old voice is believable and her anxieties realistic. Intellectually precocious and responsible beyond her years, she is also a needy child who finds helpful support when she reaches out to a grieving elderly neighbor. Although her situation is difficult, Sarah is resilient and hopeful. Readers intrigued by the premise of this moving story will sympathize with the plucky protagonist and rejoice in the way her summer works out. (Fiction. 9-13)

    COPYRIGHT(2013) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from August 1, 2013

    Gr 6-9-Sarah Nelson is dreading the seventh-grade family tree project and hoping her alcoholic father, a college professor, will move them from Garland, Texas, by summer's end. That has been their pattern whenever local acquaintances discover, usually through a resurfacing news story about two notorious court trials, that Sarah is the sole survivor of her mother's attempt to drown her two-year-old twins 10 years earlier. With a plant as her only confidante, she conducts imaginary conversations with her dead brother and looks for signs of insanity in herself as she puzzles over the twice-yearly cryptic greeting cards from her mother, a patient in a home for the insane in Wichita. An end-of-sixth-grade letter-writing assignment has Sarah sharing her loneliness and confusion with an idealized father, Atticus Finch, from To Kill a Mockingbird. But at least her own father has agreed to spare her a boring summer with her grandparents in Houston, deciding instead to leave her in the charge of a college student. Charlotte's romantic preoccupations, benign neglect, and attractive brother who shares Sarah's love of words start her on a road to self-discovery and give her the courage to challenge her father's well-intended but misguided attempts to shield her from her past. Sarah is an introspective protagonist whose narrative, interspersed with letters and word definitions, keeps readers absorbed. The horrific premise is not belabored, and the focus remains on the plight of a girl juggling the normal challenges of adolescence with a complex family situation. Secondary characters add interest and texture to this compelling novel.-Marie Orlando, formerly at Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY

    Copyright 2013 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from August 1, 2013
    Grades 5-8 *Starred Review* For the opening of her middle-grade debut, Harrington cuts right to the heart of her narrator's grim situation: You've never met anyone like me. Unless, of course, you've met someone who survived her mother trying to drown her and now lives with an alcoholic father. Sarah Nelson was 2 when that happened; now she is turning 12 in a small Texas town and looking for any signs of going crazy. Don't think this will be a hard sell to readers, though, for Harrington has created a protagonist who is, in her own way, as clear-eyed, tough-minded, and inspiring as any dystopian hero. Sarah faces down threats from all sides: The more information I gather, the better I can defend myself against the world, against the brain inside me that may or may not be like hers. And even as her father repeatedly fails her (as when he drank and slept through her birthday), Sarah finds allies and role models, from an English teacher to a home-from-college neighbor to Atticus Finch, who shows Sarah how to be a caring human being. Harrington doesn't leave out humorshe has fun with Sarah's romantic illusionsbut makes it clear that it's Sarah's courage and urge to communicate that will push her beyond her traumatic childhood.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2013, American Library Association.)

  • Gary D. Schmidt, Newbery Honor author of The Wednesday Wars and Okay for Now Sarah Nelson lives between a terrible tragedy in the past and a terrible fear about what might happen in the future. In that uncertainty, Sarah faces her life squarely, with a heroism that makes us cheer for humanity's courage, wit, and guts. She faces a divided friendship, the death of a neighbor, the loss of her first love, the near loss of her father, and, most poignantly, the knowledge that her lost mother will never be found—and yet hers is a compelling journey that takes us into that most fragile place: Hope. You will be glad you journeyed there with her.
  • Booklist, starred review Don't think this will be a hard sell to readers...for Harrington has created a protagonist who is, in her own way, as clear-eyed, tough-minded, and inspiring as any dystopian hero.
  • SLJ, starred review Sarah is an introspective protagonist whose narrative, interspersed with letters and word definitions, keeps readers absorbed...Secondary characters add interest and texture to this compelling novel.
  • Kirkus, starred review Readers intrigued by the premise of this moving story will sympathize with the plucky protagonist and rejoice in the way her summer works out.
  • Jewell Parker Rhodes, Coretta Scott King Honor author of Ninth Ward and Sugar An engaging, warm-hearted story. Beautifully written. Harrington creates a fearless and resilient heroine.
  • Pat Conroy, bestselling author of The Prince of Tides and My Reading Life Sure Signs of Crazy is knowing, hilarious, and tender. Karen Harrington's character portrait of Sarah Nelson is one for the ages.
  • The Horn Book Extraordinary heart.
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    Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
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