Greetings, fellow Teen Book Fest aficionados!
One of my favorite things to do is to reread old books and remember just how much I've enjoyed them in the past. So this month I chose I Crawl Through It, written by one of my favorite authors, A.S. King, to review and recommend.
Centered around the lives of four different teens, this modern surrealist novel deals with the effects of difficulties such as anxiety, trauma and loss in a modern world poorly adapted to addressing them. The main character is Stanzi, a high school senior who is identified by her ever-present lab coat. If you ever wanted to know anything about biology or M*A*S*H, she would be who you ask. Another of the main characters is China, who writes poetry about whatever she can find. After facing her own deeply traumatic ordeal, China swallows herself to help cope and walks around with organs on the outside of her skin- though no one around her seems to notice. Apart from her, there is Lansdale, a girl who's hair grows every time she lies- which is often. And finally, there is Gustav who is determined to build himself an invisible helicopter to help him escape the high-stress world around them. This world, which bears a striking resemblance to our own, is filled with standardized tests, oblivious and not-so-oblivious adults and, on top of it all, threats to blow up the teenagers' school before test week.
I Crawl Through It is not a conventional book. Writing in a way that is almost more abstract than realistic, King paints vivid descriptions and metaphors that make the book an intellectually stimulating read as well as an emotional one. The characters are spot-on and each one is relatable and yet unique in wonderful ways. Furthermore, the book is speckled with poetry and drawings that enhance the reading experience and draw the reader into the narrative. For example: "Your Cat Has More Self-Esteem Than I Do" and "How to Tell If Your Quiche Is Real." Each of them are funny and thought-provoking in the best way possible.
However, despite all this, my favorite part of I Crawl Through It and almost every A.S. King book I read is the voice. King writes in a way that is both raw and complex, discussing real issues that teenagers face without being either condescending or fake. Sometimes, strangely enough, reading one of her books sometimes feels to me like having portions of my mind echoed back to me and even though I've obviously never met the characters, by the end of the book I feel like I know them by heart.
So, in conclusion, if you're looking for a great read that makes you think, I Crawl Through It is definitely the book you're searching for!
Have an amazing reading-filled rest of the day and return for another book review next week.