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What Looks Like Crazy On An Ordinary Day [Paperback]

Pearl Cleage
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (189 customer reviews)

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Book Description

2 Aug 2001

Ava Johnson has had a decade of wild living in Atlanta and now she¿s returning to her home town of Idylwild in Michigan, her fabulous career plans in tatters. Ava is certain that Idylwild is the end of the road for her, but instead it turns out to be a new beginning. She falls for Eddie, a tough, but tai-chi-practising, Vietnam veteran; she rediscovers her relationship with her recently widowed sister Joyce; she supports the town¿s teenage mothers. But Ava also makes enemies. The Reverend and his formidable wife seem determined to drive her out of town. But what secrets are they hiding?

Pearl Cleage¿s debut novel is a truly engaging, universal story, and her sparkling voice combines compassion, honesty and warm humour.

Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (2 Aug 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0752841599
  • ISBN-13: 978-0752841595
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 12.2 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (189 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,288,149 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

At first glance Pearl Cleage's What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day seems pretty heavy going: HIV, suicide, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and drunk driving all figure prominently in the lives of narrator Ava Johnson and her older sister Joyce. It isn't long before crack addiction, domestic violence and unwed motherhood have joined the list--so, where's the pleasure? The answer lies in the sharp and funny attitude Cleage brings to her depiction of one African-American community in the troubled 1990s. Ava Johnson, for example, might be HIV-positive, but she's refreshingly forthright about it:
"Most of us got it from the boys. Which is, when you think about it, a pretty good argument for cutting men loose, but if I could work up a strong physical reaction to women, I would already be having sex with them. I'm not knocking it. I'm just saying I can't be a witness. Too many titties in one place to suit me."

As the trials and tribulations pile on, the experiences of Cleage's characters prove to be universal: death, love, second chances. Ava's acerbic, smart-mouthed narrative keeps the story buoyant; by the time this endearingly imperfect heroine and her cohorts have negotiated the rocky road to a happy ending, readers will be sorry to see her go, even as they wish her well. --Alix Wilber, Amazon.com

Book Description

An Oprah Bookclub Pick, a love story, and a superb, page-turning debut novel about two sisters overcoming their own personal tragedies together.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
i'm sitting at the bar in the airport, minding my own business, trying to get psyched up for my flight, and I made the mistake of listening to one of those TV talk shows. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By elkiedee VINE VOICE
I was drawn to this book by its intriguing title.

It has some dark and difficult subject matter. After she's diagnosed HIV positive, Ava returns to her Michigan hometown to stay with her sister. She's only passing through as her plan is to head to San Francisco. But she gets drawn into Joyce's concerns against her better judgement - a group for the young women of the town, the care of a "crack baby" whose mum is only interested in drugs. She even meets a lovely man - but how to tell him? And can she take on a new life and face her fear?

In spite of all that, it turns out to be a surprisingly feelgood read, with lots of warmth and humour. Pearl Cleage's writing style is engaging and confiding. The characterisation and dialogue are good, and Ava learns things about herself she didn't know before.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not An Ordinary Book! 6 Jan 1999
By A Customer
I kept looking at the eye catching cover of the novel on the shelves of various bookstore. I read the jacket cover and decided the topic would be too depressing to read. As with many people, we know of relatives and friends that have contracted this horrible disease. But the cover and imput from friends convinced to read the book. The title fits the contents of the book. I found the main characters Ava, Joyce and Eddie very believable. The story included valuable information about AIDS, the reaction of Ava upon learning she was HIV positive and the reality of learning to really live with this disease. Joyce and her ablity to cope with the lost of beloved husband, Mitch,and her two children. And Eddie dealing with his past and his ability to create a new lifestyle for himself. I found myself rooting for each of these characters. I know I wished for a happy everafter life for each of the main characters but I knew that the real world does not operate in the fashion. I am very thankful for Pearl Cleage writing style. It allowed me to deal with the realities of the various societal problems facing any town in this country. I am glad she choose an all black town,Idlewild as the setting of the novel. I applaud Pearl Cleage for telling the story in a straight forward manner and her efforts in dealing with serious topics on a very human level. I will recommend this book to my book club and to anyone who has an interest in good literature with a mesaage we all can use and appreciate. I am looking forward to reading more of literary efforts in the future.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
I realize this is Ms. Cleage's first novel, but I would suggest she stick with playwriting. When the idealistic heriones (Joyce, Eddie, Ava) suggested possibly hurting or killing the two troubled teenage boys (Frank & Tyrone), I was appalled. Even though their intent was not made specifically clear, my take on it was that they were tentatively planning to murder those boys! If this should even be fictionally stated that this is how the black community deal with their own, let's just pray that a white supremist not get hold of this book!! Considering violence against children (even fictionally) is scary. Obviously we have problems as a society but when the good guys start talking about hurting children, I cannot believe that things have become so distorted. Sorry Oprah, I will have to go back to friends and associates recommending my reading material.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thougt provoking, Realistic 29 Jan 1999
By A Customer
'What Looks Like Crazy...', was suggested to me and I'm glad I read it. This book covered almost all of todays issues, which didn't allow for complete development of some issues and characters. But the main character(Ava) and the predominant issue(her being HIV+) were touched on in a surprisinly candid way. The story is about how she learned to deal with the consequence of her mis-directed living. She regretted never having experienced love, and her disbelief and fear when she found it was poignant. This story made you realize everything has a purpose and that timing is everything. The finality of HIV, is what took her home to just live out her life, but it ultimately gave her her first look at caring for other people and the reality of love and loving. I loved the line about Ava and Eddie growing up. An extremely good read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book! 27 May 1999
By A Customer
In the 22 years I have been alive I have spent at least half of my life being aware of HIV. I know every way it is contracted, the ways to protect myself, and the drugs available to help HIV positive people live longer. What I didn't have any idea about was how someone lives with HIV. Once you find out you still live for a long time HIV. What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day is a book about Ava Johnson living with HIV. You won't find much information about the disease in this book. There are not long descriptions of what doctors told her or the medication she is suppose to take. It is simply about one person trying to maintain a life while being HIV positive. I loved this book. Pearl Cleage's writing is amazing. She completely transported me into this woman's and her family's lives. The characters were rich and whole characters. I felt like I could know any one of the them. I didn't realize that even smaller country communities are full of the same problems that cities have as far as drugs and violence. The advantage to the smaller community, however, is that you have a much better chance of reaching people and trying to change the way of life. Joyce, Ava sister, was a wonderful character. Her loving heart and drive to make a change was inspiring. These young women wanted to make a good life for themselves and their children. Joyce was an excellent person to show them love and educate them. I loved her and Ava's list of 10 things every free woman should know. And last let me mention Eddie. Wow... if I could find a man like Eddie. This was an excellent love story. This man had a very bad history. He had made bad choices but he learned and changed himself around into the person he always knew he could be. Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
Exellent book. I am a HUGE fan of the author and have bought most of her books. Stories always well constructed.
Published 20 months ago by latebloomahh
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I found this book rather disappointing particularly after reading some very promising reviews. I was expecting a read with some depth - insightful perhaps. Read more
Published on 25 Feb 2005 by More Than Just a Philosopher
5.0 out of 5 stars un-put-downable
This book is fantastic, I've just re-read it and have leant it to all my friends!
Published on 19 Feb 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly good!
This book did not really appeal to me but as it had been passed over by everyone in our book club I thought I'd give it a chance.
I was pleasantly surprised. Read more
Published on 5 Jun 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Great sensitive story, fast-paced reading.
I started this book and couldn't put it down. The humor throughout the book was intriguing despite the medical condition of the subject. Would recommend for anyone.
Published on 7 Sep 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Pageturning, exciting and interesting
I was hooked on this book after reading the first paragraph. I can't wait for her new book!
Published on 29 Aug 1999
4.0 out of 5 stars Ava could be your best friend
I love books that suck you in from the beginning.. And this one does. It is filled with believable and interesting characters, compassion, secrets and glory. Read more
Published on 28 Aug 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it! Shared it! Will re-read it!!!
This book was wonderful. It speaks to all women and especially to the human heart. You want to follow the characters forever. Read more
Published on 28 Aug 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved the book!!
This book is very well written! The story was captivating. If you care at all about your community or fellow man you will probably enjoy the book. I loved the characters. Read more
Published on 25 Aug 1999
4.0 out of 5 stars I was expected something different
It was very life like, the scenarios seemed very really, wish it could have been longer.
Published on 18 Aug 1999
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