The Crazy Man

by Pamela Porter

“I was dragging around a lot of mad / when I opened the door / and made my... read more

“I was dragging around a lot of mad / when I opened the door / and made my way / into the kitchen.” Twelve-year-old Emaline speaks with an open, honest voice in this moving novel set on the Saskatchewan prairie in the mid–1960s. A gruesome farm accident has left Emaline seriously injured—her leg was mangled in the discing maching after she fell off of the tractor where she was riding behind her father. Wracked by guilt and at odds with farming, her father has now abandoned the family. Her mother has arranged for Angus, who lives at the nearby mental hospital, to stay with them and help with the planting and chores. Some of the neighbors and townspeople are furious at the thought of a crazy man living freely in their midst. Emaline quickly sees that Angus is more fearful than fearsome, with an abundance of patience and gentle in his ways. Emaline’s physical and emotional healing is sustained in part by the new relationships that came out of the tragedy—with Angus, with her teacher, and with Mei, a girl at school. Pamela Porter’s free verse novel may be spare in its number of words, but its language is rich and revealing. Emaline’s longing for her father can’t make him come back when he’s not ready. Her growing love for Angus can’t protect him from mean-spirited remarks and cruelty. But the ultimate truths revealed in all she so observantly describes are the power of love, and kindness, and of letting go of the things that you cannot change. (Ages 10–13)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2006

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