Richard Issych, the central character of There Are Reasons Noah Packed No Clothes, knows that he is not crazy. He also believes that he would be better off dead than alive, but despite his best efforts to make that happen, he cannot seem to get the job done. But when his latest attempt to end his life fails, and Richard wakes up among the “crazies,” he cannot help but feel a little superior to his fellow inmates. His awareness that all the other patients are crazy has to mean that he is not like them. Right?
Although he is only nineteen years old, Richard already considers himself to be one of life’s failures. In fact, his latest failed suicide attempt proves again that he cannot do even that job correctly. He has already tried – and failed – at everything: work, college, friends. Now he just wants to go to sleep forever, and wonders why everyone can’t just leave him alone?
But much to his surprise (and that of his parents), Richard Issych will do some growing up while confined within the facility treating him for depression. He is surrounded by, and must interact daily with, an assortment of people suffering from everything from schizophrenia to complete breaks with reality. Some of those he meets are dangerous to themselves and others – and one or two of them are just dangerously innocent. Despite the odds, Richard makes a friend or two, finds love of a sort, and best of all, discovers that he wants to live after all.
Robert Jacoby’s portrayal of life inside a mental health facility walks a fine line between entertainment and insight. Because it is largely seen from a patient’s point-of-view, the “truth” is often hidden between the lines, a style that Jacoby uses effectively right up to the end of the novel. The ending, I admit, is still rather a mystery to me even after reading it three or four times, but that may very well be intentional. Perhaps it is up to each of us to decide what really happened during the book’s final scene – and whether or not Richard is as sane as he thinks he is.
(Review Copy provided by Publisher)