about the book
What if the story you believed about your past was overturned by one shocking piece of news?
There have always been glaring holes in Emily Sharp’s family history. Her mother, Pam, a high-strung attorney, rarely speaks of the father she despises or of the mother she never knew. But when Emily, a journalist for a local magazine, receives an assignment to investigate the sale of an old, sprawling mental institution in a nearby town, Pam reluctantly opens up and shares that her mother, Kora Mitchell, was a patient there and died shortly after she was committed. As Emily digs deeper into the tarnished asylum’s past, Kora’s voice comes alive, and long-buried secrets are unveiled that shake the foundation of Pam’s—and Emily’s—existence.
Based on records from a now-defunct mental hospital in the American South, Crazy Free paints a picture of women helping women cope—and even thrive—in confinement during the early 1960s. Contrasted with the roles of women in society today, it compassionately lays bare a time in our nation’s history when females were often committed for postpartum depression or other emotional imbalances.
Told from alternating points of view, this novel weaves together three generations of women and their passions, dreams, and losses. As Kora’s truth unfolds, Emily and Pam must decide if they will continue to be influenced by the lies of their past or if they will move beyond their haunted ancestry to forge new paths.
Welcome to a little slice of crazy cool historical architecture and documentation!
By 1955, over 550,000 people resided in state hospitals across the United States. Most of these past institutions had stunning, elaborate architectural buildings and lush landscaping.
On a cool day in November of 2018, my friend Lisa and I set out to explore Central State Hospital in Milledgeville, Georgia. Visitors are allowed to tour the grounds, but not allowed inside the buildings or beyond the “No Trespassing” signs.
This story wouldn’t be complete unless I shared a few spooky highlights from our trip!
As we were leaving, I found an old, beat-up quarter, which just so happened to be minted the year I was born.
Church bells echoed the song “What a Friend We Have In Jesus” slow and steady through the desolate campus at the top of the hour.
A radio was playing in the basement of a seemingly deserted building—dirty windows, no lights on, furniture and equipment scattered about.
A few steps from another building, a dissected deer torn to shreds was scattered on the ground. It looked like some kind of sacrifice rather than an animal attack.
Once I got home and analyzed my photographs, one of the shots had the illusion of a lady’s face in one of the shattered windows. Can you spot her below?
While admiring one of the buildings, droplets of water flicked on my face. Yes, real water! But, the sky was clear, and there were no ledges or trees around that it could’ve dropped from. After I got home, I found orbs on that picture.
In the gallery below, you can click through some of the photographs from that day, as well as shots from historical documents that I used in my research. Enjoy!
Also, if you'd like to learn more about this time in our nation's history, click below to visit my Pinterest page.
To view images in the gallery, click on the thumbnails. To view images enlarged, click on the main image to open the full-screen gallery.