Just In Case, Meg Rosoff

Meg Rosoff’s second book is about a boy called David Case who becomes obsessed with the idea that he is doomed.  He changes his name to Justin as part of a general attempt to disguise himself so that his bad fate cannot find him; he makes friends with a boy called Peter; he has an imaginary dog called Boy; he gets taken up by a rather ruthless photographer girl called Agnes; and a number of things happen to him.

I have just finished this book, and here are the two thoughts I had about it:

1. Meg Rosoff has written a book that is completely entirely unlike her first book.  Except that Justin’s baby brother has childlike wisdom and is psychic, like Daisy’s cousins, this book is just a completely different animal.  Which is quite an impressive thing for Meg Rosoff to have done.

2. This book was not aimed at me.  At first I thought it was going to be, because of all the unfocused but serious anxiety the protagonist was having, but then he kept on not worrying about being crazy.  He didn’t worry about being crazy!  Even when he was sort of worrying about being crazy, he was mostly thinking no, I am not crazy, it’s everybody else who is crazy because they don’t understand.  I don’t understand this.  I worry constantly about being crazy.  And I thought about this the entire time I was reading.  I know people are different, but still I could not make myself believe that somebody who was acting as crazy as Justin could fail to notice that he was crazy.

(I’ve just written crazy so many times that it’s become a random collection of letters.  How good.  I wish crazy could lose all meaning for me permanently and then I’d never have to worry about it anymore.)

  • Maybe worrying about being crazy is a sign of sanity? 😛

    I actually didn’t know of this book. But I’ve heard great things about her third novel, What I Was.

  • Haha Nymeth up there beat me to it. Crazy (or at least the unspecified, abstract brand of crazy) is like Alzheimer’s – if you can admit you’ve got it, then you probably don’t. I’m not being un-PC here, either. My grandparents’ doctors have all made similar comments!

  • jennysbooks

    Nah, I’ve talked to plenty of crazy people who know good and well they are crazy. In real life I know I’m not crazy, but it’s sort of a spiral – once I’ve started worrying about it, I have a hard time pulling myself out of worrying about it.

    • trapunto

      I got here from Nymeth’s review, and I suddenly feel the urge to plaster an opinion in the comments section of a year old blog post.

      This book struck me much as it did you. It felt so fraught! With the huge, mounting dramatic irony of Justin’s mental illness, I was just waiting for the piano to drop the whole time. And then when it dropped, all I could say was, “THIS IS THE WRONG PIANO!”

      I agree. Some crazy people know they’re crazy. A lot of crazy people know it and hide it. Some don’t know it. It’s hard to tell the difference between the last two kinds.

      The people who have the best idea of whether they’re crazy or not are the ones who were raised by crazy people. It’s impossible for a caretaker to fool a kid all the years they are growing up. As adults they feel pretty comfortable trusting their built-in, fine-tuned crazy-radar–which also shows shades of gray. Fay Weldon will back me up on this.

      I wonder if Rosoff had crazy family members. Justin was believable.