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Rereading Jenny: Crazy for You

January 30, 2014

[Spotlights have spoilers.]

In some ways, Crazy for You is the easiest Jenny book for me to write about. I feel like it might be the one I’ve read the most, although that distinction might go to Welcome to Temptation (up next!). In other ways, it’s the toughest one for me to write about, because over the years I’ve grown more and more emotionally attached to it and it’s SCARY, okay? It gets very dark. I get more and more nervous about rereading the book because of its effect on me. Isn’t that odd?

This is Quinn’s story, mostly. Quinn is the “good one” out of two sisters, one of whom left their tiny town and found happiness a while ago. Her sister Zoe left her ex-husband Nick in town, and he and Quinn are “best friends,” in that way that guys tend to have that one platonic woman in their lives that they feel closer to than others. Nick tries to think of Quinn as a little sister, which is sometimes tough, but it’s easiest when he’s dating some too-young girl in hopes she won’t ask for commitment and Quinn’s in one of her long-term relationships, like she is now, with Bill, the town’s beloved Coach, who is a man who takes care of his town and creates his own reality. He even believes they only kill the sick puppies at the pound. Really!

Quinn is not really a doormat so much as she’s become apathetic about certain aspects of her life and avoids conflict by being logical. She dates Bill because he asked her out, she let him move in because he kept bringing his stuff over and it made the most financial sense, she moved when and where he wanted to move because it was easier than starting a fight about it.  Quinn even gives up caring about how the apartment looks (so beige) so as not to make waves that don’t matter anyway.

But Quinn will not give up rescuing dogs, and if there’s one thing Bill hates, it’s that Quinn rescues dogs.  Everyone in town rolls their eyes and hides when Quinn finds a stray, because she tries to find them homes to avoid a possible death at the pound.  Fortunately for Bill, their apartment building will not allow animals, and the dog thing is a minor inconvenience.

Until it isn’t.  Quinn falls in love with a dog that was obviously dumped, whom she names Katie.  Katie is a submission pee-er, which is totally a thing, but I’m not a dog person so I did not know that.  Katie is a pathetic little rat dog who shivers all the time, and Bill hates her on sight.  This leads to a series of dominoes falling in Quinn’s head about her own apathy, and how it’s affected her life, and she decides to make changes.  Starting with keeping the dog and losing Bill.

Change does not happen in a vacuum, especially in small towns, and as Quinn starts to explain herself to the people around her, they start itching for change too.  This extends to her mother, her best friend, her students, and random townspeople.  On the opposite side of this, instead of rolling with the change, Bill digs in his heels, holding ever tighter to his perception of reality, until it gets so far out of whack that he’s living a life with her…without her knowledge.  Like I said, it gets dark.  But everything else is funny, which is I guess how people get away with calling it “light” and “breezy.”  I, on the other hand, delve into panic attack territory reading it.

Which is odd, really.  I didn’t used to.  What changed?  I’m not sure.  Maybe I started feeling more emotionally connected to things, or generally more skittish.  I know around that time, I also started having more visceral reactions to horror movies too.  Not that I’d give them or this book up.  It’s just been quite the transition.

I didn’t do this book any favors in my reread.  I read it a few pages at a time, putting it down a lot, because it was one of my sicker days.  Still, it’s not like I couldn’t have written this one in my sleep.

Quinn: on the doormatty side, but not overly.  Spends most of the book creating positive change in her life.

Nick: Not a suit. No one in this book is a suit!  Wow!  A guy who doesn’t want to commit, until he realizes he can have his best friend as a lover and life partner too.  Again, although we get Nick perspective, the romance isn’t everything, it’s just part of the story.  Pure chick lit.

Great bff?  Yes.  Great bff’s husband, too.  Darla’s desperate for something in her life that feels alive, the way she did when she and her husband were first dating back in high school, and he doesn’t get why things aren’t okay the way they are.  And eventually they both realize that love and sex and attraction and each other are worth going the extra mile for, and it’s totally adorbs.  I cried.

Quinn’s parents: OMG.  OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMGGGGGG  Jennifer Crusie does another one of her “breaking the mold, smashing it to pieces, tossing it all around, screw you other people, here’s how people are sometimes, and guess what, normal means a lot of things and I’m going to put them in my books” things that I love her for.  It was Quinn’s parents that got to me the most when I read this book, and I don’t want to detail that because I feel like it’s such a hit from the side, something so utterly real and I just…really, it was the thing that made me say “THIS AUTHOR.”  As in “THIS AUTHOR, she doesn’t pretend life is a magical wonderland of sexism and easy boxes.”

Sex where people can be discovered?  Of course.  In her chick lit phase, Crusie also gets more and more invested in food and music, although this one is light on the former.  (The music thing is hilarious.)  There’s also another Bad Bank Employee.  Whatever happened to you, Crusie?  But not the usual scary mother, which will show up again in WTT.

And then you have the covers.  The one above is the reissue.  It’s okay, although I’m not crazy about the pink.  Let’s say I like it as a cover to a book but not this book.  The British one I read looks like this, and I get WHY but it’s awful and boring:

crazy brit

(Also, I asked Jenny why the “Jenny” for the British publications and she said it was a choice she got to make and, in fact, was the choice she’d have made for the Harlequins too but they thought it was too cutesy and insisted on Jennifer.  So when given the choice, she let it be Jenny Crusie on the Britpubs.)

The one I’m most familiar with looks like this:

crazy for you bracelet

I want to say “too cutesy” but it gives the cover a chance to show off so many important elements of the book at once, so I can’t even fault it.

Finally, there’s what’s probably the mass market, which I’ve never seen in person but like quite a bit:

crazy truck

I like the darker blue for the title, the tilted S in Crusie (which can stand for both the quirkiness of Crusie and the off-kilterness of the world when Quinn changes it) and Nick’s truck and the dog and the legs, although I still don’t feel like this is reflective enough of what goes on in the book.  Maybe if there were a shadow somewhere?  Then it would be perfect for the book.  Jenny also was looking at a dog on the red couch for the reissue, but I guess I’ll always think of this book as blue.

I wonder if Jenny would agree with the shadow.

It would make sense for me to reread at this point Crazy People: The Crazy for You Stories, which is a collection of MFA works that led to Quinn’s story, but since I’m going chronologically by publication, oh well.  But these characters will be revisited, or previsited, if you will.

Oh, and no mystery!  I always end up liking the no-mysteries best.  Okay, not always.  But often.  Ish.

So you’ve still got the dog and the dialog and all that, and this second era of Crusie writing seems to be steady with how it goes, so far, yet still the two books are distinctive.

Nice.

Next up: movies and pornography.  Maybe not in that order.

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