Mia Singer is a talented
13-year-old who often is top of her class. Yet after one of her schoolmates
dies in a car accident, she starts getting into trouble and her grades slip. So
her parents decide to send her to a boarding school for children with emotional
difficulties. That's why she is "in the company of crazies." She
meets children about her own age who have all sorts of problems: obsessive-compulsive
disorder, depression, autism, conduct disorder, and of course attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder. The school, Mountain Laurel, has just a small staff,
and is run by an older woman, Gretchen. The children do some bookwork but they
also work in the garden, do art, and write journals. There's some aggression
between the boys, but for the most part they get on well with each other and
even manage to help each other when their feelings become very intense.
Nora Baskin's novel for children is
simply written and goes quickly. The characterization is rather sketchy -- we
never get a strong sense of the relationships between Mia and her parents, or
even a clear idea about why the death of her friend affected her so much more
than her classmates. It is an interesting glimpse of a slightly unusual
approach to treating children's emotional troubles, and all of the young people
are portrayed sympathetically, even when they are unpleasant to others. In
the Company of Crazies is a compassionate book showing childhood mental
illness, and will be especially interesting to young people who have gone
through experiences similar to those of Mia.
© 2007 Christian
Perring. All rights reserved.
Perring, Ph.D., is Academic Chair of the Arts & Humanities
Division and Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island. He is also editor of Metapsychology Online Reviews. His main
research is on philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.