Crazy Love You
Lisa Unger
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Buy *Crazy Love You* by Lisa Ungeronline

Crazy Love You
Lisa Unger
352 pages
February 2015
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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Unger’s Crazy Love You spotlights the emotional detritus of a life built on tragedy and grief. Ian Paine is a a successful graphic novelist whose series “Fatboy and Priss” has provided financial independence and a loft in Tribeca in NYC. A perfectionist, Ian creates every phase of his comics, from plot to initial panels and final press preparation. While most publishers assign these tasks to separate departments, Ian’s work is personal and organic, though he often struggles to meet pressing deadlines. Claiming he works best under pressure, Ian is guilty of regularly flirting with distraction, like his latest interest in a young woman, a nanny he meets in a city park. Once he has set eyes on Megan, light to his darkness, Ian is determined to move the relationship to the next stage.

Not unexpectedly, old issues interfere with his plans to romance Megan, namely an encounter with the woman on whom Ian’s graphic series is based: luscious, red-haired Priss, the antithesis of everything Megan represents. Priss has been an important part of his life since childhood in The Hallows in rural New York, where his world turned from happy to deeply fractured beginning with the birth of a baby sister, a rival for his mother’s affections. When baby Ella is born, Ian literally faces abandonment by his mother, a situation that creates both loneliness and jealousy in a needy, overweight boy. Ian turns to Priss, a girl he meets in The Hallows Woods at the edge of their property. First she is his comforter, then his avenger as life becomes more difficult, his family shattered by loss and his mother’s growing madness. Though Ian is no longer that miserable, unhappy child, his relationship with Priss is the genesis of the graphic series “Fatboy and Priss.”

There are ugly secrets in Ian’s past: a death, his mother’s progressive mental illness, the chaos that dominated his childhood, the pain of being bullied, only Priss making it bearable. Now, when Ian is ready to move forward, Priss stands in his way, a threat not only to the future Ian deserves but to the innocent and unsuspecting Megan: “Falling in love can feel like a dream--or a waking nightmare.” From New York City to the Hamptons and The Hallows, Unger builds an unusual thriller of psychological suspense, pitting the dark against the light, the shadows of the past against the hope of the future, a life of possibilities against one of despair in an uneasy balance that often threatens to swallow Ian whole, Priss the only obstacle as she refuses to let him go.

Though the sense of menace is palpable, the source of it is less definitive. Ian stands caught between the world that fed his imagination and led to unexpected success, with Priss as his partner, and an existence swept clean of the past, Megan forcing Ian to choose a different kind of life, one less haunted and more positive. Only Priss stands in the way, refusing to release the partner that revels in rebellion and outrageous behavior, the “Fatboy” who needs “Priss” to fight his battles in the world. It’s a modern tale with a theme as ancient as the concept of good and evil.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Luan Gaines, 2015

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