Like Crazy

Life with My Mother and Her Invisible Friends


About The Book

“Exquisite. Full of wry humor, tenderness, and compassion.” —Jeannette Walls, New York Times bestselling author

In the tradition of The End of Your Life Book Club and Bettyville, a hilarious and heartbreaking memoir about an outlandish mother and son on a journey of self-discovery, and the ragtag community that rallied to help them as the mother entered the last phase of her life.

Dan Mathews knew that his peculiar mother, Perry, was witty, bawdy and, at seventy-eight years old, unable to maintain her fierce independence—so he flew her across the country to live with him in a dilapidated Victorian in a Virginia port town. What he didn’t know was that she was also schizophrenic.

Over the next four years, Dan and Perry built a rollicking life together fueled by costume balls, after-hours parties, and an unshakeable sense of humor as they faced down traumatic injuries, natural disasters, and Perry’s steady decline. With the help of an ever-expanding circle of sidekicks—boyfriends new and old, ex-cons, sailors, strippers, deaf hillbillies, Evangelical Christians, and everyone in between—they flipped the parent-child relationship on its head, with the globe-trotting animal activist finally learning to settle down to care for Perry—the stray who raised him.

But it wasn’t until a kicking-and-screaming trip to the emergency room that Dan discovered the cause of his mother’s unpredictable, often caustic behavior: she had been suffering from a devastating, undiagnosed disorder.

Irreverent, emotionally powerful, and deeply moving, Like Crazy is a rare story about mental illness with an uplifting conclusion, driven by reinvention and the power of community. Lovingly told, Mathews’s memoir is also a profound meditation on the joys and pitfalls of caring for an aging family member and of the remarkable growth that takes place as a child steps into the role of the parent.

About The Author

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Dan Mathews was born and raised in Orange County, California by a single mother who encouraged her three boys to bring home stray animals. In high school, he was beaten up for being gay and credits those rough times with helping him develop the thick skin needed to be an animal activist. He spent two years in Italy working as a fashion model and bit-part actor before returning to the US to earn a degree in history from American University in Washington, DC. Shortly afterwards, he began working at PETA as a receptionist and within a year was organizing protests. As PETA’s Director of Campaigns, he helps increase awareness of the rights of animals through high-profile events. He has been arrested for his activities more than twenty times but usually gets released from jail within a day. Through a unique combination of sex, humor, and glamour, he has turned animal rights into one of the hottest causes of the last two decades.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atria Books (May 5, 2020)
  • Length: 256 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781982100018

Raves and Reviews

Like Crazy is exquisite. Full of wry humor, tenderness, and compassion.” –Jeannette Walls, bestselling author of The Glass Castle

"Dan Mathews writes with such wit and tenderness about his mother's descent into previously undiagnosed schizophrenia. But that’s not all: this book is also about his journey to self-acceptance and ultimately finding love. I couldn’t recommend it more."  –Alan Cumming

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