“Like Crazy: Life with My Mother and Her Invisible Friends” by Dan Matthews— Mother and Son

Matthews, Dan. “Like Crazy: Life with My Mother and Her Invisible Friends”, Atria, 2020.

Mother and Son

Amos Lassen

Dan Matthews’s “Like Crazy” is both a very funny  and heartbreaking memoir about an outlandish mother and son on a voyage of self-discovery, and the wild community that came together to help them as the mother was in the final phase of her life.

Mathews knew that Perry, his mother, who was witty, bawdy, unhinged mother, Perry, was unable to maintain her independence at seventy-eight so he flew her across the country to Virginia to live with him in an 1870 townhouse that was falling apart. Dan was soon overwhelmed with two fixer-uppers: the house and his mother. 

Together, Dan and Perry formed a fun life together of  costume parties, road trips, after-hours gatherings, and a wonderful sense of humor as they dealt with hurricanes, blizzards, and Perry’s decline. They got help from a large group of friends including  Dan’s boyfriends (past and present), ex-cons, sailors, strippers, deaf hillbillies, evangelicals, and grumpy cats and with them they were able to change the parent-child relationship. 

It was with a trip to the emergency room that Dan learned the cause of his mother’s unpredictable and sometimes caustic behavior— Perry had lived her entire adult life as an undiagnosed schizophrenic. 

Filled with emotion and irreverence, this is darkly comic story about the perils and rewards of taking in a fragile parent without losing life in the process. We read about about mental illness with an uplifting conclusion and see the remarkable growth that takes place when a wild child settles down to care for the wild mother who raised him. Matthews gives us a beautifully written celebration of familial love. He tells his mother’s story in a way that shows the seriousness of severe mental illness while capturing the absurdity and humor that was part of caring for his mother and loving her. We have humor, tenderness, and compassion as we read about the author’s journey to self-acceptance and finding love.


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