The Crazy ManBook - 2005
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 children tease and call "the gorilla." Though the small town's prejudice creates a cloud of suspicion around Angus that nearly results in tragedy, he just may hold the key to Emaline's coming to grips with her injury and the loss of her father.
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On the wall behind her mattress, Emaline crosses off each day since her enormous loss – the day she critically injured her leg in a farm accident, leading her father to shoot her beloved dog and abandon her family. Unable to manage the farm on her own, Emaline’s mother hires Angus, a patient from the local mental hospital, to help work the fields. Small-town fear, suspicion and prejudice surround him wherever he goes, but as Angus finds a place in their family, soon Emaline is crossing off the days since his arrival rather than marking time since Cal Bitterman’s departure.
The story is told in Emaline’s natural, unassuming voice, giving the impression of reading an undated journal as she quietly shares her emotions and a clear perspective on those around her. The reader is introduced to a rich cast of characters: Emaline’s resourceful mother Clarice, learning to take risks and walking the line between her own prejudices, needs and experience; their neighbor Harry Record, a dangerous, ignorant bully; and Emmie’s teacher Miss Tollofsen, who encourages Emaline’s artistic talent and emphasizes the importance of each day being a fresh start.
In the end, the gentle truths about Angus that Emaline has been learning become evident to the entire community through an incident that weighs fear and hatred against the beauty of a simple heart. Teens that have unjustly been treated as objects of suspicion will rejoice as Angus is finally seen, and accepted, for whom he really is. This thoughtful novel chronicles not only the healing journey of a clear-eyed and likeable young woman, but the growth of her community as they move past the universal fear of the unknown.
Friendship with a mentally ill man helps 11-year-old Emaline cope with being fatherless and injured in a farm accident as well as the death of her dog. Grade 5 - 8
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