Cassie, Em and Lydia are best friends and go to Ashbury High. Because their English teacher is all about forging friendships across school boundaries and The Joy of the Envelope, he makes his class write letters to pupils at the nearby Brookfield high school. While and Lydia appear quite lucky with their pen pals, and strike up tentative friendships and even flirt through their letters. Em tries to help the boy she’s writing impress a girl he likes, and as their letters progress, she even offers to take him on practise dates. Lydia and her pen pal give each other secret missions and challenge each other to perform dangerous and even borderline illegal feats of daring.
Cassie, whose father died the year before, and who is still grieving, is less lucky with her pen pal. What starts out as abusive messages and threats that she refuses to respond to with anything but sunny cheer, take a turn for the dark and sinister when the boy she’s writing to seemingly warms to her, and suggests they meet. When Em and Lydia finally find out what Cassie has been hiding from them, they are furious, and soon the two schools are in all out war against each other.
Just as Feeling Sorry for Celia, Finding Cassie Crazy is an epistolary novel, made up chiefly from the letters between the Ashbury girls and the boys of Brookfield. However, the story also unfolds in diary entries, e-mail, notice board announcements at the two schools, reports and Lydia’s creative interpretations of the “lessons” given in the So You Want to be a Writer journal her father gave her for her birthday.
Jaclyn Moriarty is brilliant at depicting teenagers, and the seemingly mundane realities of their lives. The previous book centred on only girls, whilst in this book, the Seb and Charlie (the two boys who write to Em and Lydia) are just as important, and as fully realized as the female characters. This book’s got a larger cast of characters, but you feel deeply for all of them, and the growing unease Moriarty develops through Cassie’s diary entries and correspondence makes it even more satisfying when her loyal friends finally discover the truth and utilise everything at their disposal to find out the true identity of the creep who hurt her, and in getting revenge.
While I didn’t adore this book as much as Feeling Sorry for Celia, possibly because this book didn’t quite so much remind me of my own teenage years and writing to a best friend, it was still a book that I had trouble putting down. I’m very glad I have the final two Ashbury/Brookfield novels lined up on my reading list.