Crazy Love You

By Lisa Unger

Touchstone | 2015

Reviewed by Janet Garber

Crazy Love You is a fantastically fast read—one sitting—that quickly pulls us into the story of Ian and his two loves: Priss whom he’s known since childhood, redheaded, wild, over-the-top sexy Priss and sedate, white bread, private school-bred Megan, an overeducated, underemployed nanny, whom he hopes to marry.

From the get-go, we’re primed to expect trouble from the ex-girlfriend. We know it’s not going to be pretty.  Not only did Priss come to his rescue repeatedly when they were kids and he was a tailor made victim for classroom bullies, but she continues to be a force in his life, both positive and negative. She’s handed him the storyline for his acclaimed comic book series, Fatboy and Priss; he’s now, by most measures, rich and successful.  And she has not given up her habit of dropping in to his apartment uninvited for wild nights of boozing, drugging and sex.

We think we know what to expect until author Unger drops a bomb: no one has ever seen Priss.  Huh? Suddenly we get a Stephen King vibe coming in from left field. Oh, it’s that kind of story?

Like Nathaniel Hawthorne in The House of Seven Gables, Unger gives us two scenarios, the rational and the supernatural, and leaves it up to us to decide.  Ian grows up in a trauma zone, he’s given to violent displays and acts of anger of which he has no memory, his mother ships off to the local mental hospital, his father withdraws. So maybe Ian has burnt down houses, beat up and killed off enemies?  He insists it’s all Priss’s doing, that she acts to protect him, that she’s the superhero in his story.  In truth, he seems rather passive and nerdy, though the evidence mounts up against him and the police, by the end, are circling the wagons.

Priss, meanwhile, flits about, an enticing, addictive, somewhat sinister presence in his life.  Unless he rids himself of her, he will never mature and take responsibility for his actions. Even his career is in jeopardy as readers of Fatboy and Priss are dropping off, and his editor is pressuring him to wind up the series, start anew.  But Ian can’t seem to extricate himself from his codependent relationship with Priss, on paper and in real life.

How will the action resolve?  Will Ian wind up with Priss or Megan? Will he face consequences for his actions—or are they Priss’s actions? Sit down in a comfortable recliner as I did or take this book on your next beach vacation to find out. Unger ties all the threads together in the end, giving us a satisfactory resolution to Ian’s dilemma, and one not completely expected.

Megan is a saint, returning for more, always on Ian’s side, his superego, always , always on the side of life.  Priss of course is pure id, all fire and impulse, her only imperative to protect Ian and fight his battles for him.  Ian himself is a bit too flaccid, far from a superhero type and not always someone we would want to emulate or admire.  But we’re on this journey with him, hoping he pulls himself together and it seems that he does, with a lot of help from his women. Perhaps his next comic book series will feature a bolder, more confident, more conventional male lead.

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