Crazy Town by Robyn Doolittle [Book Review]

Book Reviews, Toronto Adventures

imageI became enthralled by “the Rob Ford Story” because of CP24 — a news station that seemed to be dripping with information about the alleged “crack video”. Every day when I walked into work there would be a new story about Ford and I became addicted. I don’t follow politics, nor did I know who Rob Ford was before all of the hype on TV, nor do I or will I state my opinion about the mayor of Toronto. What I will say is that his scandals make for really good television.

As someone who loves Toronto and hopes to be a resident some day (I live a little north of the city), I thought it would be important for me to learn more about the Ford situation and try to understand what exactly is going on at City Hall. When I heard about the Robyn Doolittle book: CRAZY TOWN, I knew I had to read it. I asked my friends at Penguin for a copy and thankfully they obliged.

Toronto Star reporter Robyn Doolittle was one of three journalists to view the video and report on its contents in May 2013. Her dogged pursuit of the story has uncovered disturbing details about the mayor’s past, and embroiled the Toronto police, city councillors, and ordinary citizens in a raucous debate about the future of the city.

CRAZY TOWN paints a detailed and interesting picture of the Mayor of Toronto and his family. Robyn’s writing is thoughtful and filled with purpose to the point that this book reads like a novel, like a literary story. I had to remind myself at times that it isn’t some fictional account, it is the past and present of the Ford family. It’s the truth knocking at the door, demanding to be let in. What I liked most about CRAZY TOWN was the fact that Robyn Doolittle isn’t trying to pressure you into feeling a certain way about Ford. She has her sources, she has her facts, and her writing is pure and without bias. She admits to Ford’s good points, stating “Rob Ford might be a genus—if not of the academic variety, certainly of the kind that matters in politics”. You are given a reporter’s side and a mayor’s side — your only job as a reader is to get locked into a fascinating story and it’s not difficult to do.

In writing this book—and preparing these notes—I have tried to be as open and transparent as possible about my reporting process and how I know the things I know.”

I’ll admit that this account is so detailed that some of the politics went a little over my head but I was always brought back with enough information to wrap my head around what was happening. I found CRAZY TOWN to be deliciously interesting, especially the first few chapters about Ford Sr. and Rob’s siblings. My heart raced when Robyn recounted viewing the crack video for the first time and my mind sharpened as it was fed important facts, dates, and names.

I recommend this book to anyone who has felt captivated by Rob Ford’s many scandals, to anyone who wants to know more about the Mayor of Toronto, to anyone interested in politics, and to anyone who loves a well-written book.

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

Quote 1: Page 65

Quote 2: Page 314

Synopsis from the Penguin Canada website.

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of CRAZY TOWN by Robyn Doolittle in exchange for an honest review.