Karl is determined that this will be his year to be normal. Karl has been an integral member of the school support group for troubled teens, that him and his friends lovingly coined "The Madman Underground". Karl's best friends are the Madmen, but he knows he'll have to separate himself from them if he has any hope of avoiding therapy, and the stereotypes that go with it. He finds that shaking the Madmen is going to be harder than he thought, and in the end, is it worth it to be normal anyway?
This book is extremely engaging. The writer describes the characters and their lives in a way that makes them feel real, almost as though this was a work of nonfiction. It is set in the 1970s, but the story feels like it could take place in present day; I found the references to the time period interesting and informative. I would recommend this book to anyone who appreciates stories portraying realistic friendship and family struggles, resilience, and mental illness. This book is recommended for older teens and adults, as there are references to graphic violence, sex, and drug and alcohol abuse. Some people may feel uncomfortable with these aspects of the story, but if you can get past them it really is a captivating and at times agonizing story that will leave you wishing you could spend a day with the Madmen.
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