Published by Hachette UK on September 22nd 2015
Genres: Young Adult
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Four teenagers are on the verge of exploding. The anxieties they face at every turn have nearly pushed them to the point of surrender: senseless high-stakes testing, the lingering damage of past trauma, the buried grief and guilt of tragic loss. They are desperate to cope, but no one is listening.
So they will lie. They will split in two. They will turn inside out. They will even build an invisible helicopter to fly themselves far away...but nothing releases the pressure. Because, as they discover, the only way to truly escape their world is to fly right into it.
The genius of acclaimed author A.S. King reaches new heights in this groundbreaking work of surrealist fiction; it will mesmerize readers with its deeply affecting exploration of how we crawl through traumatic experience-and find the way out.
As I walk, I feel the rift in my cells. I don’t know if everyone can feel their cells. I can feel every one of mine.
China says she can feel her cells. China is my best friend. China is inside out, so I bet she knows more about cells than anyone.
I honestly applaud anyone who can finish this book. Because I couldn’t do it. I tried so hard to love it, then just to finish it, but finally my frustration won.
I want you to know that I have often considered A.S. King one of my favourite YA authors. I love her creative, thoughtful contemporaries – Please Ignore Vera Dietz (about grief), Everybody Sees the Ants (about bullying), Ask the Passengers (about coming out) – and I have especially always loved how she doesn’t follow trends and always tries to do something different. She thinks outside the box.
But I Crawl Through It is so far out of the box… it’s insane. Some people are calling it “magical realism”, a genre which I personally love, but I would simply call this “surrealism”. Roughly translated as “what the fuck is happening?”
Fragmented, stilted sentences describe how one teen is building an invisible helicopter, another is inside out because she swallowed herself and another tells lies, which makes her hair grow. “It’s a metaphor”, you say? “It’s deep”, you say? I’m genuinely happy for all the people who thought so. To me, it looked like someone had vomited on a page and called it art.
Maybe if you don’t know me, you are now making some assumptions – that I can’t appreciate metaphor, or books with depth, or books that are a bit weird – but you would be wrong on all accounts. I just recently read a wonderful, strange book with many metaphors – Cuckoo Song – and I absolutely loved it. I loved the metaphors I had to work hard for in All the Light We Cannot See.
But nothing should be this hard to enjoy. That’s why I’m not finishing it. If you have to force yourself to like something, what’s the point?