Wednesday, July 29, 2015

I Crawl Through It -- Shelf Awareness Pro

I had a new book review in Shelf Awareness Pro today!

YA Review: I Crawl Through It

I Crawl Through It by A.S. King (Little, Brown , $18 hardcover, 336p., ages 15-up, 9780316334099, September 22, 2015)

Readers looking for a break from the ordinary will welcome A. S. King's (Glory O'Brien's History of the Future; Everybody Sees the Ants) newest novel. Deftly juggling a number of surrealistic elements, the author crafts a wholly original work of fiction that is as bizarre as it is satisfying.

Stanzi won't take off her lab coat and dissects frogs with a clinical passion. She's in love with Gustav, who is building a helicopter that's not technically invisible, but Stanzi can see it only on Tuesdays. China, Stanzi's best friend, repeatedly turns herself inside out due to a nasty encounter with a weatherman ("She just turns herself over and over, esophagus to rectum, like a human Lava Lamp"). Everyone is aware of this. The dangerous bush man sells letters for a kiss. And Lansdale Cruise "is like Pinocchio except her hair grows, not her nose." Add in daily bomb scares and the pervasive pressure of standardized testing at their high school and you have the basic tenets of I Crawl Through It.

The brilliance of this novel is how everything makes sense in King's carefully crafted plot. The story weaves together alternating points of view of characters who are all dealing with some kind of trauma, yet they are all looking for love and redemption. Stanzi's parents are mysteriously absent from her life, and the family has clearly survived some kind of violent encounter. Stanzi and Gustav intend to use his helicopter to escape a life of standardized tests, mediocrity and TV. Since the helicopter is invisible to Stanzi six days out of seven, she will "just have to trust." Meanwhile, after China was deeply hurt by her affair with the weatherman, she's trying hard to stay out of trouble. But she's still looking for love, so when she meets a boy on the Internet, she takes the bus to New York City to see him. Lansdale Cruise, whose father has worked his way through four wives, furiously looks for her own answers to love and perfect test scores. Even the mysterious man in the bush is looking for love.

Readers who follow the story threads will be rewarded in a big way, as these smart teens cope with stress, violence, turmoil and the dysfunctional adults in their lives by taking extraordinary measures. Ultimately, it is only when they are ready to face their demons head-on that true healing finally begins. --Lynn Becker, host of Book Talk, the monthly online discussion of children's books for the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators

Shelf Talker: Master of contemporary surrealistic fiction A.S. King offers a smart and wholly original new YA novel.

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