Review and author interview by Haylie Koorn, grade 9
My Kind of Crazy by Robin Reul
Sometimes you just need someone else to understand your craziness so you can feel okay. Hank Kirby likes being invisible so that no one has to feel pity over him and his family. But one day, he lights his crush, Amanda Carlisle’s yard on fire. He just wants to forget everything, but with Amanda investigating who lit the fire, he can’t forget it. While trying to avoid his problems, he finds himself falling for a pyromaniac, Peyton Breedlove, and her problems. Soon after as he feels like his life is becoming normal, it starts to fall apart all over again. Will he go back to the life he had before or will he change it for the better?
My Kind of Crazy is an amazing and heartbreaking book about being yourself. An unusual relationship blooms between Hank and Peyton, which puts them and the reader on a emotional roller coaster. Peyton is daring and never thinks twice about her decisions, which is a thrill for self-controlled Hank; they balance each other out perfectly making this a wonderful read. The plot is brilliant. There were memorable scenes and a surprise twist. I would have never guessed the ending. Robin Reul did a great job telling a story that is normally overrated.
I rate this book 5 out of 5.
Interview with the author
Did you base off any of the characters of people you know?
All the characters in my book are completely fictional, but the connection between Hank and Peyton is loosely based on aspects of myself and a dear friend of mine who is no longer with us here on the planet. When I was in high school, I felt pretty lost and broken in so many ways, and I was blessed to have a wonderful friend who didn’t try to fix me or judge me but instead tried to understand me and just listened. She made all the difference in my surviving that time. She was killed by a drunk driver when we were seventeen, and her death crippled me for a long time. I struggled for a long time to figure out how to tell our story because I thought it might help someone else, but I didn’t want it to just be a depressing tale about grief and loss. Instead, I wanted it to be a story about the power of human connection and the ways in which grief puts down roots and we have to find the courage to move on and to rebuild ourselves. Most of all, I wanted it to be a story about finding hope. It just needed to find the right voice, and it found it in Hank and Peyton.
Why did you make Peyton a pyromaniac?
I’m laughing as I write this because I honestly don’t have an answer to that question. It’s just how Peyton showed up in my head. Here’s Hank, having committed this epic fail, setting this girl’s lawn on fire in a promposal gone bad. And then I pictured this girl who’d witnessed him do it and how much potential for humor and vulnerability and depth in the story there could be if his accidental problem is her real life one and how she’s drawn to him because she believes he’s a kindred spirit. I think it endears the reader to the characters when you expose their vulnerabilities from the start.
Were there any other endings of the book that got cut from the final draft?
YES! In the original draft, as Hank is leaving town, I had this great idea that it would be hilarious if he left a bunch of dead fish in the front seat of his nemesis’ car. It wasn’t until I saw a trailer for John Green’s Paper Towns movie that was coming out around the same time that I was doing my revisions that I was reminded where I’d seen this genius idea before. Apparently great minds think alike, but it was immediately obvious that it needed to be changed. My son actually helped me come up with the ending scene. It’s based on a real experience he had in his sophomore year of college and the minute he started telling me the story I knew it was absolutely the perfect way to tie everything together at the end in a realistic and relatable way.
Since you grew up on movie sets and worked years in film would you ever consider turning this book into a movie?
If only that were up to me! But I would absolutely love to see Hank and Peyton on the big screen! I think the story has a very cinematic feel and would easily translate into a movie so Hollywood, if you’re listening….check it out!
How does your son and daughter feel about this book or about you writing?
My kids are incredibly supportive of my writing. They both read early drafts and gave me feedback and are an invaluable part of my revision process. Despite that they are my kids, they are also my target audience, so if something jumps out at them, it probably will to other teens as well. They know that being a published author has been my lifelong dream and they have given me nothing but love and total encouragement to see that through. Every time I felt like giving up, I thought about the message I’m sending to them about giving up on their dreams when they hit speed bumps in the road. I couldn’t have done this without the incredible support of my family.
What do you think of the cover of the book?
I got super lucky – I think Sourcebooks did an amazing job with my cover. I really love it. They asked me for input early on, which is really not the norm with most publishers, and I felt so privileged to be included in the process. I’d always envisioned the title written in sparklers and they loved that idea too and it stuck. That title just jumps right off the cover. I think they perfectly nailed the humorous undertones of the novel by having Peyton and Hank hiding in the grass. The reader can infer there is some sort of connection between them and they hopefully will be intrigued enough to want to read on and find out what it is!