Creepy and Maud is a simple story about a boy that loves the girl next door. That everyone in this entire book is social unacceptable and broken in one for or another is beside the point.
This is a very impressive debut novel, very sharply focused on the two main voices Creepy (the lover, you never find our his real name) and Maud (the girl next door, who’s real name we also don’t find out).
Both characters are maladjusted and isolated.
The male character keeps his distance for others just watching, making insightful comments on the hidden agendas that shape our behaviours. Because of this others call him Creepy. Oh, and because he watching Maud through his bedroom window with a massive pair of binoculars.
Maud is dealing with anxiety which is manifesting in compulsive behaviour such as: hair pulling (trichotillomania) and eating , word counting (to five in her case) hidden drinking and playing up at school.
Creepy is intelligent and great reader, Maud is a natural artist and linguist. At one stage she goes out of her way to learn about drawing graphic novels, and she uses her grasp of French to distance herself further from her parents and teachers. She does finds it hard to concentrate on words.
Both sets of parents are messed up, Creepy diagnoses both fathers as emasculated, their lives make them feel less than men and they take it out on their wives, children, or neighbours. One mother is miserable and drinks, the other shows the anxiety that she’s bequeathed to her daughter, Maud. Both sets of parent try to keep up the façade of normalcy, both sets delighting in the inadequacies of the other.
Though they are isolated Creepy and Maud share short insightful conversations via messages pressed to their bedroom windows. Sometimes Maud’s are drawings as that is her easiest form of expression. They build a nervous and unstable friendship that doesn’t truly get put to the test until the last two pages. But those last two pages are gold.
Ideas for presentation:
Definitely for older readers.
Message on sheets of paper might be good. You know those YouTube videos with people holding up A4 pages. I think I’ve even seen a video clip.
Maud displays a lot of compulsive symptoms. This book is a natural and darkly funny link to a discussion on anxiety.
There is a lot of talk about hair in this book, starting with Dad “mowing the lawn” which makes Creepy’s mother decide that he must be having an affair, to Maud and her pulling and eating, to an guerrilla-style hair saloon appointment. Maud’s hair is something Creepy loves about her, so there could be a discussion about hair and how the two sexes see each other, a debate on Do boys prefer long hair on girls?
There’s a lot of unhappy families in this book. I wonder if you could play are game of cards based on Happy families called Unhappy families, where the grand mothers (there are two in the book, one dies which is another point of anxiety for Maud) are the happiest most well adjusted characters in the game.
This books is a how-not-to book on family relationships. Maybe examples from the book as how not to treat your family, friends and neighbours could lead to discussions on relationships. That could be hilarious.
Belonging and Discovery:
Creepy watches people to discover their agendas, which he’s very good at. It’s probably why he’s attracted to Maud as he wants to discover why she does all the odd behaviour. When Creepy finally steps out of his comfort zone they discover the warmth of friendship that has only been hinted in their furtive messaging.
Maud goes to a lot of therapy but at no time do they ever get down to the root cause for her anxiety, they just treat symptoms. Maybe there’s a discovery topic there somewhere.
This book could be seen as the opposite of Belonging. Neither of these two characters belong anywhere. What happens when not belonging is taken to the extreme. Maud has friends but none visit her and Creepy says he’s never wanted any. A lot of the things Maud gets in trouble for are not as serious as the overstrict school culture suggests. It only reinforces the isolation, that even positive steps forward are seen as negative by the two characters environment. Frankly who would want to belong to the world that Creepy and Maud find themselves in?