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Sweet & Crazy
by Patty Dann

Category: Fiction / Literary
193 pages; ISBN: 0312316666

Rating: 10/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Norman Goldman


Reading Patty Dann’slatest novel Sweet & Crazy is like being invited into the author’s home and sitting at her kitchen table where she shapes and narrates a beautiful sensitive story focusing on a recent widow, Hanna, her four year old precocious son, Pete, their next door neighbor, Thomas, and Pete’s Asian friend Mazur and his father Omar.

The story is set in a little town, Ash Creek, Ohio, and begins just prior to the death of Hanna’s husband Ed, who had suffered for some time from brain cancer.
After Ed’s death, Hanna bravely tries to carry on a normal life, and her narration of her daily routines are packed with vivid images and voice that make you want to encourage her not to stop and tell all.
It is a story of coming to terms with the death of a spouse, a new beginning, and a romantic awakening brought about by a next -door neighbor.
The narrative also touches on the ugliness of racism and the painful harm it causes.

Cleverly crafted with a great deal of sensitivity and admirable fluidity, Dann divides her story into four chapters representing four months after Ed’s death. However, one of these months just happens to include the tragic events of 9/11.
Unfortunately, as the author recounts, no matter where one may have lived at the time of this hideous crime, you were not immune to the suffering and pain inflicted by the perpetrators.
Hanna’s neighbor Omar has lost a brother-in-law in one of the towers, and nearly his wife, who happened to be visiting her brother in New York at the time. Fortunately, she only suffered a broken leg.
When Omar thinks about the tragedy and asks Hanna “can you believe your husband is gone? Hanna replies, “sometimes not. Sometimes I can’t believe any of it, but we had time to say good-bye.”

What I found touching about the novel is that Hanna does not reduce her personal tragedy and that of 9/11 to simple sets of conversation. It rather provides her with solace and some meaning to her life.

In a recent interview conducted by the magazine Creative Parents Dann recounts that several editors asked her” why she didn’t write about her experience with her own husband’s death? Her reply was that she found it too close and she had to fictionalize it. She set the book in a small town in Ohio and even then it was hard to write. When I started writing this as non-fiction it was too painful. When it was fiction I could add humor, more irony.”

I guess Dann’s reply only reaffirms what many believe that to live without telling a story is to live without any coherence and momentum.

The above book review first appeared on


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