Sounds Like Crazy by Shana Mahaffey 400 pages Published October 6, 2009 Fiction
You know how, sometimes you end up reading a book that you wouldn’t normally have read, but it turned out to be a total gem? Yeah, that’s what happened for me with Sounds Like Crazy.
Author Shana Mahaffey approached me back in September 2009 asking if I’d read and review her book, Sounds Like Crazy. I was hesitant because, well, frankly, the book didn’t intrigue me. But she knew Michelle Gagnon, who I’ve made no bones about loving, AND she seemed to have read my review policy, and saw I wasn’t into chick lit. Two points for Shana! I accepted the book and I finally got around to reading it, and hoo boy no one told me I was in for such a treat!
Stick with me on this, because the plot’s a little different: Holly Miller has dissociative identity disorder (aka multiple personality disorder), so she’s got these people in her head that are constantly there. (I know! You’re mind has already gone to Sybil!) These other personalities are: Betty Jane, the leader of the pack, Ruffles, the morbidly obese woman who wears a lot of purple and eats Ruffles chips, Sarge, the one who can be counted on to keep order, The Boy, a young boy who sometimes speaks but never shows his face, and The Silent One. These all call themselves The Committee, and together they help Holly lead a normal life. By that I mean Betty Jane helps her get better tips (Betty Jane is waaaayyy more confident and has a really cool southern drawl) at the diner Holly works at. While Holly technically can function in society, she’s not doing the best job, as she can’t always control Betty Jane’s behavior when Betty Jane takes over.
Holly serendipitously waits on a customer whose boss has created an animated show and was in the process of looking for voice over artists. Betty Jane’s voice is perfect, and Holly lands the job. Unfortunately for Holly, Betty Jane makes demands of Holly (shopping sprees, drivers to pick them up and take them to work, etc) in order to continue doing the voice overs. Holly’s thin facade begins to crumble.
In the meantime, Holly’s been in therapy trying to deal with her DID, and she’s simultaneously dating Peter, a guy that’s totally wrong for her.
I was cautiously optimistic about this book after the first few pages. Whatever I thought it might be, it wasn’t. It was better. I ride the bus to work, and I rarely get so engrossed in a book that I forget to check where we are in the route and/or whether we’ll be on time to my connecting bus. This isn’t because books haven’t been that awesome, but I just don’t want to miss my stop or my next bus! While reading Sounds Like Crazy, I got so caught up in it on the bus that when the bus stopped at the transit mall, which is where I catch my connecting bus, I looked up, startled, and it took me a few seconds before I realized where we were. I’d gotten that engrossed in the book.
I was about halfway through Sounds Like Crazy when I had my real life book club meeting. I brought my book because…well, you never know when you’ll find a few seconds to read and I take the book I’m currently reading with me EVERYWHERE, and I mentioned it to my book club because they’re always pooh-poohing my dark and heavy suggestions, and I was surprised with how excited I was about this book! The greatness just snuck up on me and when I mentioned it, my excitement just bubbled out. I was so passionate about Sounds Like Crazy that we ended up making it our June selection.
One thing I love about Sounds Like Crazy is that you’ve essentially got three main characters: Holly, Betty Jane, and Ruffles. And while I didn’t laugh out loud, I was really invested in how these other personalities affected Holly, both good and bad. Betty Jane really has no regard for Holly, so she’s always doing these self-destructive things (and by that I mean, things that get Holly fired from her job because Betty Jane is a narcissistic diva, but the other personalities can’t stand up to Betty Jane, so while you’re rooting for Holly to succeed (and that usually involves Betty Jane), you’re also cringing because you know this isn’t sustainable.
I know I haven’t told you much about Shana’s writing style or any literary blah blah blah, but I hope that I’ve SHOWED you just how much I liked it as opposed to just telling you, It’s grrreat! And no, I don’t think everyone will like it. I think part of the reason I liked it was because some of the themes resonated with me. I’ve been in therapy before, so the feelings that Holly felt while in therapy rang true. I love that Shana uses these other personalities to explore those people we hold closest to our hearts. I can’t wait to discuss this in my book club!
Rating: 90 out of 100
Shana Mahaffey’s website: www.shanamahaffey.com.
Book source: I received this book from the author.