THE GOOD SIDE OF CRAZY,
BY ANNA CHASTAIN
PUBLICATION: FEBRUARY 18, 2014
Synopsis: Shae Martin has been called up for duty, guardian duty. When her dad and stepmother are killed in a car accident, Shae is called up as guardian of her 15-year-old sister, Sadie. It wasn’t that long ago that Shae, herself, was a teenager; but you’d think, based on her current relations with Sadie, that it had been a millennia Shae struggles to balance being a “pseudo-mama” to a teenager, back to living in a small town, in her estranged father’s home, with dating and career and her sanity. Sadie’s assistant principal, Adam MacCallum, is entirely too delectable for Shae to pass up on, whether or not Sadie approves; and Sadie’s bad-boy, Cash, is the thorn in Shae’s side that just won’t go away. So the question is, can these women navigate the many facets of love in their lives, and resolve to settle their futures without killing/maiming/deleting, or becoming each other’s worst enemies in the process?
Oh my goodness, not sure where to begin with this absolute gem of a book! Shae must return to her hometown after her Dad and Stepmom die in an accident and Shae is named as the guardian of Sadie, her 15-year-old half-sister. At 28, but wonderfully immature, Shae feels like she should be able to easier relate and get through to Sadie, but is continuously met with challenges. When called to the school after Sadie gets in trouble – again – Shae meets the adorably sexy Adam McCallum, Sadie’s assistant principal, and sparks immediately fly between them. This story follows Shae and Sadie during the difficult first year after the accident and all of their ups and downs getting used to Shae being Sadie’s guardian.
Shae was the ultimate character in my eyes. She was a wonderful mix of brains, beauty and a quick, smart-ass wit. The author presents Shae in such a straightforward and honest way it’s almost impossible not to relate to her. I loved Sadie also, who was very similar to Shae but in a quieter, brooding teenager way. Their story brought back so many memories (several cringeworthy) of my own acting-out days in high school, but luckily, Sadie’s mischievous ways also reminded Shae that she too had been that age once and made plenty of poor decisions. When they were getting along it was great and hilarious at times, but even when they were at odds, there was still the lingering emotion and love between them. There are a few times in the novel when Shae is very upset and/or worried concerning Sadie and Shae literally just loses it. On one hand, it’s almost uncomfortable but the way the author portrayed Shae’s raw emotion was truly spectacular. Some may find her reactions a bit over the top or inappropriate as far as her prominent use of 4 letter words, but I could easily see myself reacting in a similar manner and empathized with the situation(s). Adam was smart, funny and adorable the entire novel, luckily very good with teenagers and very reassuring when Shae was overwhelmed. He had a very casual ability to emphasize the positive things when Shae, Sadie, or really anyone was focusing too much on the negative things. His cheesy pick-up lines were fantastic and I loved how sweet and romantic he was. I definitely have a crush on Adam, in case you can’t tell.
I not only loved the characters in this novel, but just the overall plot and action of the story. This is a very possible and believable situation and the author did a perfect job of focusing on the challenges, victories and just the laugh out loud funny moments. Especially a moment with Shae’s Mom eating grated cheese 🙂 Anna Chastain’s writing is wonderful but not over the top. This is the type writing that I love because I feel like I’m sitting listening to a conversation live and in person rather than reading a book. The character’s all happily owned their flaws while being accepting of each others’ flaws which added plenty of humor in the novel. There was also a natural but entertaining rise in the action with some subplots, but nothing that didn’t enhance the story. As things go from bad to good to worse to good again, and so on, the author slowly reveals the inside thoughts, regrets, fears, and guilt of the characters making the story incredibly moving. I found myself laughing and crying throughout the story that I was unable to put down once I started.
This was my first time reading anything from Anna Chastain but hope that it will not be the last. What an incredible author to not only take on this subject matter in a novel but to absolutely nail it with this unique and inspiring story. I don’t have specific groups or tastes in reading as far as recommending this novel, it’s just one of those that everyone should read. You will be oh so happy that you did and will be thinking of Shae and Sadie long after you’ve reached the final page.
*Many, many, many thanks to the talented Anna Chastain for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review!!!