Thank you to Valerie and Hatchette Book Group for sponsoring this giveaway of Cornelia Read’s The Crazy School!
About the Book:
Recently settled in the Berkshire Mountains in Massachusetts, Madeline Dare now teaches at the Santangelo Academy, a boarding school for disturbed teenagers. But behind its ornate gates, she discovers a disorienting world where students and teachers alike must submit to the founder’s bizarre therapeutic regimen. A chilling event confirms Maddie’s worst suspicions, leading her to an even darker secret that lies at the academy’s very heart. Now cut off from the outside world, Maddie must join forces with a small band of the school’s most violently rebellious students – kids who, despite their troubled grip on reality, may well prove to be her only chance of survival.
About the Author, courtesy of the publisher:
Cornelia Read knows old-school WASP culture firsthand, having been born into the tenth (and last) generation of her mother’s family to live on Oyster Bay’s Centre Island. She was subsequently raised near Big Sur by divorced hippie-renegade parents. Her childhood mentors included Sufis, surfers, single moms, Black Panthers, Ansel Adams, draft dodgers, striking farmworkers, and Henry Miller’s toughest ping-pong rival.
At fifteen, Read returned east, attending boarding school and college on full scholarship. While in New York, she did time as a debutante at the Junior Assemblies, worming her way back into the Social Register following her expulsion when a regrettable tantrum on the part of her mother’s boyfriend’s wife landed them all on “Page Six” of the New York Post.
Today, her Bostonian Great-Grandmother Fabyan’s Society of Mayflower Descendants membership parchment is proudly displayed at the back of Read’s tiny linen closet in Berkeley, California. She continues to rebel against familial tradition by staying married to a lovely sane man who is gainfully employed. They have twin daughters, the younger of whom has severe autism. Learn more at Cornelia Read’s website at http://www.corneliaread.com/
Reading Group Guide:
1. Maddie is the only Santangelo Academy teacher who lives off campus. How does this affect her views of what is “normal”?
2. Wiesner tells Maddie she is “too whacked to maintain appropriate boundaries” and has issues with authority. Do you agree? Does anyone at Santangelo maintain “appropriate” boundaries?
3. Maddie claims she hates Mindy because she is so shallow. What does this assessment reveal about Maddie herself? How does the generally negative nature of Maddie’s worldview affect the outcome of this particular narrative?
4. Maddie wants to believe that Santangelo can “fix” her. What is broken in her life?
5. The school uses a lot of phrases such as “firing yourself ” and “doing a turn-in.” Many groups use language to create a shared sense of identity. When can this be beneficial, and when can this be dangerous?
6. What are the author’s views on therapy, as expressed by Maddie? Do you agree with her?
7. Why does Maddie stay on as a teacher at Santangelo? Is it only about the paycheck for her?
8. While he never appears in the novel, Maddie’s father is discussed twice during the course of the story. What impact do you think his mental illness has had on her development and on her issues with “authority”?
9. What might be different about this novel if Dean had a steady job? What do you think of his attitude about drug testing—is he standing up for individual rights, or should he put down the bong and get over himself already?
10. Could Maddie have been a more effective advocate for her students if she’d played by the Santangelo rules? What would this have meant for Fay and Mooney, specifically? Should she have “done a turn-in” with regard to their secret?
11. What impact has the advent of psychotherapeutic drugs such as Prozac had on the public perception of “talk therapy”?
12. Has the influence of such psychiatric authorities as Freud and Jung been diminished or enhanced by advances in our understanding of neurochemistry over the last two decades? Is this a good thing or a bad thing?
13. How do you think Maddie will respond when she hears about the events of the final chapter? Did what happened change your perception of Wiesner and Sitzman?
14. Is the final word of the book, uttered by Sitzman, significant? Does its use here tie in with the discussion of campus prohibitions against it in chapter one? How would the novel be impacted if there were no profanity used by any of its characters?
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The contest is limited to US and Canada. No P.O. boxes. The contest ends at noon on March 21, 2010.
Thank you to Valerie and Hatchette Book Group for sponsoring this giveaway!