My Crazy Life: How I Survived My Family


127 pages
ISBN 1-55037-733-7
DDC j306.87





Edited by Compiled by Allen Flaming and Kate Scowen
Reviewed by Dave Jenkinson

Dave Jenkinson is a professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba and the author of the “Portraits” section of Emergency Librarian.


Intended to inspire and give hope to teenagers whose present lives may
be “crazy” in part because of the behaviors of the families in which
they are/were members, My Crazy Life consists of the narratives of 10
“survivors” who have “succeeded” despite coming from a variety
of dysfunctional family types. The compilers, both professionally
connected to social agencies in Toronto, have selected six females and
four males from various racial groups to anonymously tell their stories
of childhood and adolescence via chapters that range in length from 10
to 14 pages. The subtitle’s use of the word “survived” indicates
that “success” simply means that the 10 are now functioning
“adequately” within the larger adult society.

Each person’s story commences with the compilers’ providing a short
8– to 11–line overview of that individual’s situation, and then
the chapter’s subject candidly tells her/his story in the first
person, with the narrative being broken up into sections by bold
headings. Although the headings used vary among narrators, each of the
chapters consistently ends with a “what I learned from my
experience” and “what advice I can give you based on my
experience” section, usually labeled “Looking Back.”

Coming from homes broken by various causes, including divorce,
desertion, alcohol and substance abuse, and mental illness, the
narrators share frankly with readers the various forms of
self-destructive behavior in which they engaged before something or
someone caused them to retake control of their lives. Occasionally, the
chronological flow of an individual’s story is difficult to follow. A
closing afterword and a “How to Find Help” section provide useful
suggestions for teens who may be experiencing their own times of
craziness. Recommended.


“My Crazy Life: How I Survived My Family,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 19, 2024,