I Crawl Through It by A.S. King
Surreal, Young Adult
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published September 22nd, 2015 by Little, Brown
Is it normal to know, deep down, that you are two people joined as cells? Is it normal to know, for sure, that there is an organ inside us that no scientist has discovered? Is it normal to know, deep down, that you will escape this place in a helicopter that no one else can see?
After reading two of her books, A.S. King became my favourite author. But if we’re being honest, she did after just one. Her books are weird in the best way, and real and honest in the best way. Things don’t have to be “real” to be real, you know? I know it as I sit here hours after I finished I Crawl Through It and am still unable to think about anything else. I know it as I flip through the pages and pages of quotes I jotted down while reading. I know it as I fly off in Gustav’s red invisible helicopter. I don’t know how she does it, but A.S. King seems to have poked me in the soul with a stick. Again.
Right off the bat you need to know that King is not your typical young adult author. She has a very unique voice and is writing books that are unparalleled in the genre. Her books are so beautiful and out there and wonderful. She takes pieces from the imagination and uses them to highlight something that is achingly real and honest. I don’t even know how to put words to it. She writes books that poke you in the soul. With a stick.
BE WARNED. They are known to cause severe to acute book hangovers.
This particular soul-poker is about four teenagers growing up in Pennsylvania (I think?). They go to a school that receives a bomb threat every single day. They spend their classes outside. They are no longer surprised by bomb-sniffing dogs and policemen with guns.
Our big explosion is coming any day now. Can’t you hear the ticking?
Each of these four carry their own baggage. Baggage they picked up through hurt and neglect. Baggage from emotional trauma. These kids are like any other kids, really. Except they’re not. But… they are.
This is the story of teens grappling with loss. Grief. Guilt. Neglect. Trauma. Standardized tests and the complete zombifying of the public school system. And they are dealing with it any way they can.
Stanzi (AKA _____), loves biology. She literally can’t go anywhere or do anything if she is not wearing her lab coat. Oh, and she’s pretty sure she’s actually two people. Then there’s Gustav. He’s building a helicopter. It’s red. And also invisible. China swallowed herself. She’s right side in instead of right side out. Lansdale has very long hair. Because it grows a foot every time she lies, and she’s a compulsive liar.
This book is weird and wonderful. It’s amazing and confusing and ultimately incredibly beautiful. It’s the complete realization King’s surrealist tendencies, and I love it. Such a wonderful evolution of her style. I want to marry it. I want to have it tattooed all over my body. Well, maybe not but you get it?
We’re alive. We have words and shapes and ideas. We will throw them at you when you do not believe. We will throw our love and out hate and our failure and our success. We’ll split in two right in front of you and be our best and our worst. We’ll lie and tell the truth.
I’m not sure that this book is for everyone because surrealism isn’t for everyone. But if you like surrealism, or want to give it a try (GIVE IT A TRY GIVE IT A TRY), definitely read this book. I can’t recommend it enough. If you’re new to AS King, I might try easing yourself into her style by starting with one of her earlier books.
Note: Quotations are pulled from the ARC and not the finish copy.
Beth is the founder and editor of Fuelled by Fiction. She is a twenty-something east coast Canadian girl who loves writing about books and feminism.