30+ quotes from The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

Quotes from The Madness Underneath

Maureen Johnson ·  290 pages

Rating: (14.2K votes)


“There is no normal. I've never met a normal person. The concept is flawed. It implies that there is only one way people are supposed to be, and that can't possible be true. Human experience is far too varied.”
― Maureen Johnson, quote from The Madness Underneath


“Don't get stabbed. It makes everything awkward.”
― Maureen Johnson, quote from The Madness Underneath


“Do you ever sing in the car?"
"Generally not. But I am driving a police car."
"I think people would like a singing policeman. Makes life seem more like a musical. Like Foot-tastic."
"You can talk for a long time about nothing."
"I certainly can, you charming man!”
― Maureen Johnson, quote from The Madness Underneath


“The hand that rested on my shoulder rubbed it a bit, comfortingly. Then it gave my shoulder a little squeeze. I leaned into him.

Maybe it was that I was broken. Maybe it was just that I was out of my mind. But it occurred to me that I was going to kiss him. The thought just arrived, certain knowledge, delivered from some greater, more knowledgeable place. I was going to kiss him. Stephen would not want to kiss me. He would back up in horror. And yet, I was still going to do it. I reached over, and put my hand against his chest, then I moved closer. I could feel just the very tips of the gentle stubble on his cheek brushing against my skin.

"Rory," he said. But it was a quiet protest, and it went nowhere.

For the first few seconds, he didn't move-he accepted the kiss like you might accept a spoonful of medicine. Then I heard it, a sigh, like he had finally set down a heavy weight.

I was pretty sure we were both kind of terrified, but I was completely sure that we were both doing this. We kissed slowly, very deliberately, coming together and then pulling apart and looking at each other. Then each kiss got longer, and then it didn't stop. Stephen put his hand just under the edge of my shirt, holding it on the spot where the scar was. Sometimes the skin around the scar got cold-now it was warm. Now it was alive.

"So Thorpe says that-Seriously?"

Callum was in the doorway.

Stephen mumbled what I think was a very obscene word right against my mouth.

"You realize I now owe Boo five pounds?" Callum said. "Boo! I owe you five pounds!”
― Maureen Johnson, quote from The Madness Underneath


“I remember how, at first, I had felt the tension in his lips, as if he was trying to make a barrier between us - then they had relaxed, parted slightly. And that's when I had known he wanted to kiss me, wanted to give in. That little parting of the lips, the little sigh that came out... I would hear that sigh forever. That little, little sound when the whole world seemed to open up.”
― Maureen Johnson, quote from The Madness Underneath


“Life is always going to be a series of ouch-making moments, and the question was, was I going to go all fetal position, or was I going to woman up? I went into fetal position on the bed to think about this. Fetal position turned out to be very comfortable.”
― Maureen Johnson, quote from The Madness Underneath


“I like to talk. Talking is kind of my thing. If talking had been a sport option at Wexford, I would have been captain. But sports always have to involve running, jumping, or swinging your arms around. You don’t get PE points for the smooth and rapid movement of the jaw.”
― Maureen Johnson, quote from The Madness Underneath


“I ran like a thing that runs.”
― Maureen Johnson, quote from The Madness Underneath


“This is England," he explained. "Tell someone it's a procedure, and they'll believe you. The pointless procedure is one of our great natural resources.”
― Maureen Johnson, quote from The Madness Underneath


“I don't know if there is actually more rain here in England, or if it was just that the rain seemed to be so deliberately annoying. Every drop hit the window with a peevish "Am I bothering you? Does this make you cold and wet? Oh, sorry.”
― Maureen Johnson, quote from The Madness Underneath


“I try to shake it loose-but these ideas, they cling. It's like I'm shackled to them with an iron chain. They rattle along behind me, dragging against the ground, always reminding me of their presence.”
― Maureen Johnson, quote from The Madness Underneath


“Spicy food and I have a close relationship—an obsessive one, in fact. If it’s spicy, I want it. I want to sweat and shake and go half blind from the searing pain . . . which, now that I put it that way, seems really suggestive. But spicy stuff is addictive. That’s a known fact of science.”
― Maureen Johnson, quote from The Madness Underneath


“Although it was very cold, he wore no coat. I think some English people think coats are for the weak.”
― Maureen Johnson, quote from The Madness Underneath


“English rain feels obligatory, like paperwork. It dampens already damn days and slicks the stones.”
― Maureen Johnson, quote from The Madness Underneath


“Oh, the ongoing love affair between hair and mouths. Hair always goes for the mouth. The mouth opens, and hair says, "I'm going in! I'm going in!" like a manic cave diver.”
― Maureen Johnson, quote from The Madness Underneath


“when something happens to me - good, bad, boring it doesn't matter - I have to tell someone to make it count. There's no point in anything happening if you can't talk about it.”
― Maureen Johnson, quote from The Madness Underneath


“You'd been petting a stuffed dog?' she said 'A dead one?'
'It was a really well stuffed dog' I clarified. 'I have seen some bad taxidermy. This was top-notch work. It would have fooled anyone.”
― Maureen Johnson, quote from The Madness Underneath


“Shame is like melting. You can actually feel your muscles sag and drop, as if your body is preparing you to crawl, or possibly ooze, to the nearest exit.”
― Maureen Johnson, quote from The Madness Underneath


“Is this all right?" he asked. He was using that very low, somewhat husky universal kissing voice.

"Huh?" I said, because I am sexy.”
― Maureen Johnson, quote from The Madness Underneath


“Maybe it was that I was broken. Maybe it was just that I was out of my mind. But it occurred to me that I was going to kiss him. The thought just arrived, certain knowledge, delivered from some greater, more knowledgeable place. I was going to kiss him. Stephen would not want to kiss me. He would back up in horror. And yet, I was still going to do it. I reached over, and I put my hand against his chest, then I moved closer. I could feel just the very tips of the gentle stubble on his cheek brushing against my skin.

“Rory,” he said. But it was a quiet protest, and it went nowhere.

For the first few seconds, he didn’t move—he accepted the kiss like you might accept a spoonful of medicine. Then I heard it, a sigh, like he had finally set down a heavy weight.

“I was pretty sure we were both kind of terrified, but I was completely sure that we were both doing this. We kissed slowly, very deliberately, coming together and then pulling apart and looking at each other. Then each kiss got longer, and then it didn’t stop. Stephen put his hand just under the edge of my shirt, holding it on the spot where the scar was. Sometimes the skin around the scar got cold—now it was warm. Now it was alive.”
― Maureen Johnson, quote from The Madness Underneath


“It was okay to give up. I'd been brave. Everyone would say so. And yet...even as I opened a dresser drawer and figured out which things I would take with me in this hypothetical scenario, I remembered the problem. There would still be ghosts. I would still have a future.”
― Maureen Johnson, quote from The Madness Underneath


“After that, I felt like I had two lives. There was the me I had been before the attack, the one people knew and wanted to relate to. The one people wanted to comfort and fix. And there was another me, a hidden me that no one ever saw. There was a me who had tasted death. That me knew things others people didn't know.”
― Maureen Johnson, quote from The Madness Underneath


“I felt like I was faking all of this, like I was playing the part of a student. I had the costume and the props, but I didn't really belong here. I'd pinned notes on the stupid corkboard backing of my desk, and I'd highlighted things...But it was all so meaningless.

For about an hour, I had an overwheling urge to grab my bag, stuff in a few things, and take the next train to Bristol. I could be back on my parents' couch that night if I got moving. I could admit that I wasn't ready for this, that the semester was a wash. My parents would be thrilled, I was sure. Not about the semester being a wash--but certainly about having me back where they could keep me safe and sound. It would be so easy to do it. The very idea made me warm inside. It was okay to give up. I'd been brave. Everyone would say so.

And yet...even as I opened a dresser drawer and figured out which things I would take with me in this hypothetical scenario, i remembered the problem.

There would still be ghosts

i would still have a future.

I would still go back to school eventually. You can't curl up on the sofa and deny life forever. Life is always going to be a series of ouch-making moments, and the question was, was i going to go all fetal position, or was I going to woman up?”
― Maureen Johnson, quote from The Madness Underneath


“A strange thing happened to me as I walked away from Jane's house--I was finally thinking clearly. I could see what Charlotte meant. Jane knew how to fix people. Now that I'd talked through some of my issues, I'd blown out the dust and garbage out of my brain and I could think for once. I could smell the rain, heavy with iron. The cold woke me, but it didn't sting. My breath puffed out in front of me in a great white plume, and I laughed. It was like I was breathing ghosts. I wasn't in the land of long highways and big box stores and humid, endless summers. I was in London, a city of stone and rain and magic. I understood, for instance, why they liked red so much. The red buses, telephone booths, and postboxes were a violent shock against the grays of the sky and stone. Red was blood and beating hearts.

And I was strong.”
― Maureen Johnson, quote from The Madness Underneath


“You can't curl up on the sofa and deny life forever. Life is always going to be a series of ouch-making moments, and the question was, was I going to go all fetal-position or was I going to woman up?”
― Maureen Johnson, quote from The Madness Underneath


“I take my best lessons from nature, and nature says 'When something flies at your head- move.”
― Maureen Johnson, quote from The Madness Underneath


“Never get stabbed- it makes everything awkward.”
― Maureen Johnson, quote from The Madness Underneath


“You're not weird in the head.' 'There's a giant talking chicken next to me that would say otherwise.”
― Maureen Johnson, quote from The Madness Underneath


“..., I don't think you would just be treated like a member ofan agency. You'd be treated like an asset. And assets don't get to have lives.”
― Maureen Johnson, quote from The Madness Underneath


“But here I was,quasi-boyfriend saying he wanted to take me on an actual date, and I was just staring at him impassively, like a horse watching a mime pretending to walk against the wind.”
― Maureen Johnson, quote from The Madness Underneath


About the author

Maureen Johnson
Born place: Philadelphia, PA, The United States
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