It is 1965, and twelve-year-old Emaline lives on a wheat farm in southern Saskatchewan. Her family has fallen apart. When her beloved dog, Prince, chased a hare into the path of the tractor, she chased after him, and her dad accidentally ran over her leg with the discer, leaving her with a long convalescence and a permanent disability. But perhaps the worst thing from Emaline's point of view is that in his grief and guilt, her father shot Prince and then left Emaline and her mother on their own.
Despite the neighbors' disapproval, Emaline's mother hires Angus, a patient from the local mental hospital, to work their fields. Angus is a red-haired giant whom the local kids tease and call the gorilla. Though the small town's prejudice creates a cloud of suspicion around Angus that nearly results in tragedy, in the end he becomes a force for healing as Emaline comes to terms with her injury and the loss of her father.
In the tradition of novels such as Kevin Major's Ann and Seamus and Karen Hesse's Out of the Dust, novelist and poet Pamela Porter uses free verse to tell this moving, gritty story that is accessible to a wide range of ages and reading abilities.
Pamela Porter was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and she lived in New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Washington and Montana before emigrating to Canada with her husband, the fourth generation of a farm family in southeastern Saskatchewan, the backdrop for much of Pamela's work. She is the author of three collections of poetry, and her poems have appeared in numerous journals across Canada and the US as well as being featured on Garrison Keillor's The Writer's Almanac. She is also the author of a number of children’s books, including Sky and Yellow Moon, Apple Moon (illustrated by Matt James).
Pamela's first novel in verse, The Crazy Man, received the TD Children's Literature Award, the Canadian Library Association Book of the Year Award for Children, the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People and the Governor General's Award, as well as several children's choice awards. It was also named a Jane Addams Foundation Honor Book and won the Texas Institute of Letters, Friends of the Austin Public Library Award for Best Young Adult Book.
Pamela lives near Sidney, B.C., with her husband, children and a menagerie of rescued horses, dogs and cats.
...it's deceptively simple, rewardingly rich.
Among the pleasures of this novel are the muted longing in the young girl's expression, the explications of the 1960s definitions of crazy - and, perhaps most impressively, Porter's play with a verbal colour palette that tempts us to read this initiation narrative as impressionism, studied in its composite detail, and intelligently sentimental.
Powerfully told in poetic verse, this story is fast paced and heartfelt.
This...would be a valuable addition to young adult collections
The marvel of this novel is that language as plainspoken as Porter's can be as revelatory as those prairie plains themselves....Porter cultivates her characters and her plot with huge deftness and tenderness.
Subtle in its themes and organization, this book is pure pleasure, offering lessons about love, loyalty, and loss.
...[a] moving, gritty story...accessible to a wide range of ages and reading abilities. It is amazing how much emotion and character Porter manages to convey with so few words.
...Potter's free-verse narrative explores prejudice, fear, and disability with quiet grace.
A richly written character study containing echoes of To Kill a Mocking Bird's Scout Finch and Boo Radley and Of Mice and Men's Lennie, The Crazy Man, which explores prejudices in many forms, is a quick read meriting several rereadings. Highly Recommended.
...a rich, full story of growth and questioning...
...a touching portrait of a real-seeming girl, set in a well-delineated time and place.