Crazy Love You

By Lisa Unger

(Touchstone, $25.99, 352 pages)

Who is this author?

Lisa Unger, who  was born in New Haven and grew up in New Jersey, where her mother was a librarian, now lives in Florida . She is an award-winning New York Times and internationally bestselling author. Whose 13 novels have so far sold more than two million copies and have been translated into 26 languages. Her psychological thrillers have won critical praise for their literary qualities as well as commercial success for their gripping plots and memorable characters.

What is this book about?

As a boy growing up in The Hollows in upstate New York, Ian is the fat kid whom his peers torment, and his unhappy life is made worse by his murderous mother’s mental illness. Then Priss moves to town and becomes Ian’s avenger and confidant. Ian grows up to become a successful graphic novelist, whose Fatboy and Priss books hark back to his miserable childhood. Ian, now an adult, maintains a relationship with Priss, who continues to manipulate his life, leading him into a world of drinking, drugs and kinky sex. It’s a dark path, and when Ian meets the sweet and lovely Megan, he sees a better life awaiting him.  But will the obsessive and dominating Priss let him go? Can he let her go? And by the way, is Priss at all what she seems? On that question hangs the resolution of this chilling tale.

Why you’ll like it:

Unger knows how to create compelling characters caught up in frightening relationships and dangerous behaviors, as well as stories that engage the reader and offer complex, twisty endings.

Here is some of what she told a Big Thrill Magazine interviewer :

“At its core, CRAZY LOVE YOU is about obsessive love, the twisting nature of reality and fiction, and going down the rabbit hole of addiction . . .”

And here is what she has said about The Hollows, the setting for several of her novels:

“The Hollows is a very interesting and unique place. It started out simply as the setting, a fictional town I created, for my novel Fragile. But, over the years, it has become much more. . . .The Hollows is, in some sense, how I see life. It has an endless number of shades and layers, and it shows various parts of itself to everyone. The Hollows is someplace different for Jones Cooper than it is for Eloise Montgomery than it is for Ian Paine. They all see what they want to see in the place, and they all take away a unique experience. Jones, who is a very practical, feet-on-the-ground type of guy, views The Hollows as he would view any other place. Eloise sees — and hears — a totally other perspective, something beyond the buildings and trees. Someone like Ian — troubled, addicted, sensitive — is having another experience yet again. They are all acting upon and being acted upon by The Hollows in different ways. Like life, The Hollows is exactly what you expect it to be, exactly what you put into it — and yet there are many elements that are totally out of your control.”


What others are saying:

The Providence Journal says:  “A simmering tale of romantic obsession and angst in the tradition of Body Heat or Fatal Attraction, laced with the noirish spirit of James M. Cain. Wonderfully crafted and beautifully executed.”

Booklist’s starred review says: “Ian is an overweight, very unhappy little boy growing up in the Hollows, a small town in upstate New York that is as creepy as it sounds. His mother has killed his baby sister during a severe bout of postpartum depression and is confined to an institution. Ian grows up bullied and prone to bouts of explosive anger; his only solace is a young girl named Priss, who shows up in his yard one day and befriends him—and later defends him. Fast-forward to Ian’s successful life as a graphic artist in New York City, where he is struggling with drugs and alcohol and a toxic relationship with Priss. Then he meets Megan, a young woman from a fine family, and they fall in love. Ian wants to be a better person for Megan, and he decides to stop using drugs. Megan wants to meet Priss, but Ian can’t let that happen. Priss is very jealous and keeps moving in and out of his life, leaving all sorts of damage in her wake. As the narrative weaves back and forth between Ian’s childhood and his adulthood, and his relationships with Megan and with Priss, the story becomes more entangled and more riveting. Is Priss real, imaginary, or a ghost? Does Ian have anger issues, or is it Priss doing all the damage? This is a complex, intricate story, yet the pages fly by as Ian, the most unreliable narrator since Nick Dunne in Gone Girl, leads us on a wild ride in this superb psychological thriller. Unger is at the top of her game here.”

“Sharply drawn characters and occasional rest breaks of humor . . . Unger is adept at evoking the eerie, but she’s also capable of droll sociological commentary on the urban scene. . . . After reading Unger’s sinister thriller, anyone cavalier enough to think they can easily put the past to rest (and even live companionably with the dead) will think again,”  says Maureen Corrigan in The Washington Post.

Publishers Weekly says: “Bestseller Unger’s suspenseful fourth Hollows thriller (after 2014’s In the Blood) focuses on Ian Paine, a graphic novelist in New York City, who draws on his unhappy childhood growing up in the Hollows, N.Y., for his successful series Fatboy and Priss. Fatboy was the name Ian was called by the schoolmates who viciously tormented him; Priss was his only friend, a girl who wrought revenge on anyone who hurt Ian. When Ian begins a relationship with Megan, a beautiful, caring woman, the resentful Priss sets out to lure Ian back into the destructive patterns he developed before meeting Megan—patterns that included long work sessions followed by heavy drinking and drug use. Ian is soon keeping company with inappropriate companions and engaging in promiscuous sex and various crimes. The tug-of-war between the two women to gain control of Ian will keep readers hooked, but some will find the lengthy ending unsatisfying.”

In its starred review, Library Journal says: “Ian Paine is a successful graphic novelist, but as a child, his life was filled with heartbreak and turmoil. From his beloved mother’s descent into madness to the merciless bullying he endured at the hands of his classmates, life dealt Ian a difficult hand. But when a young girl named Priss arrived in town, she became his loyal defender and his close friend. Now an adult, Ian can’t turn his back on Priss, even though his friendship with her has taken a destructive turn, drawing him into a life of drinking and pill popping. When he falls in love with the kind and caring Megan, Ian resolves to free himself of his drug habit, but Priss makes it clear that she isn’t going to let go. VERDICT Unger’s skillful portrayal of complex and traumatized characters make her latest psychological thriller one that will keep readers engaged from start to finish. Fans of mystery and suspense, along with Unger aficionados, will enjoy this imaginative tale, which may be the author’s best work yet.”

“Unger takes her loyal readers back to The Hollows, a creepy town about 100 miles from New York City, in this tale of love gone awry. Ian Paine writes and illustrates graphic novels and has become quite a success. His series—Fatboy and Priss—chronicles the adventures of a nerdy outcast and his gorgeous, red-haired avenger, the amoral Priss, who makes certain that no slight to Fatboy goes unpunished. Originally from The Hollows, where otherworldly events are common, Ian was the original Fatboy. He led a miserable life after his mother lost her grip on reality and smothered his baby sister, then led him to the bathtub, perhaps planning to drown him. Escaping from his mom, Ian ran into the woods, where he met Priss, a strange child with red hair; as time passed, she became his only friend. Ian was the school joke, but with weight loss and artistic success, he eventually made a new life for himself in the city. Now he’s fallen in love with a woman named Megan, and she’s accepted his proposal of marriage. But when his editor tells him it’s time to kill off Fatboy and Priss and start another series, he finds that Priss, who has both haunted and defended him, isn’t going to go without a fight, and that fight can get very, very ugly. Though fans may wonder why, given its history, anyone would live in The Hollows, the big question for readers will be whether or not Priss is real or simply a manifestation of a disturbed young man’s imagination. Unger’s complex novel can at times get a little confusing, with the action constantly shifting from place to place and back and forth in time, but Unger knows what her fans like and scores another bull’s eye with this one. Classic Unger and a surefire hit with her followers,” says Kirkus Reviews.

When is it available?

You can find this thriller at the Goodwin and Mark Twain branches of the Hartford Public Library.

Do you have something to say about this book, this author or books in general? Please post your comments here and I will respond. Let’s get a good books conversation going!


Comments are closed.