I Crawl Through It

I Crawl Through It

A Novel

Book - 2015
Average Rating:
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"A surrealist novel about four teenagers who find unconventional ways to escape standardized tests and their perilous world, and discover that the only escape from reality is to face it"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York ; Boston : Little, Brown and Company, ©2015.
ISBN: 9780316334099
Characteristics: 319 pages ;,22 cm

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JCLChrisK Dec 16, 2015

"Challenging" was the first word I heard used to describe this book. I think "surreal" was the next. Following that was "impossible to describe." Even the author herself, when asked to describe the book, talked about the themes and ideas that led to its creation without attempting to describe the plot or characters.

Other descriptions they could have just as accurately used: captivating; insightful; imaginative; perceptive; funny; and enlightening. That this book is unusual isn't the first or most remarkable thing you need to know about it, but that it powerfully and effectively conveys emotional truth.

In I Crawl Through It, metaphor is reality and reality is metaphor. Things aren't simply described as being like other things, they actually are those things. Metaphors are.

Stanzi is obsessed with biology, would rather dissect frogs than anything else, and is both herself and her tetragametic chimera--her fraternal twin that she absorbed in the process of becoming an embryo; Stanzi is two people at once, opposite and confused. China has swallowed herself. She now lives inside out, a digestive tract on legs, who only communicates through poetry. Lansdale is a compulsive liar who's hair grows--a la Pinocchio--with every lie she tells. Gustav is building an invisible helicopter in his garage that he plans to use to leave everything behind.

"Everything"--for all of the characters--includes past trauma; oblivious, uninvolved, self-centered parents; and a school that only cares about preparing them for tests, bombs, and gunmen. And there's the neighbor who lurks in his bushes often wearing only an open trench coat, offering to hand out letters of the alphabet he has sculpted.

Some of the metaphors are obvious and instantly convey meaning; others are more, well, challenging. All reveal additional layers as the narrative progresses. And that narrative is clever, wise, and poignant on nearly every page. This book will make you laugh with wry appreciation, cringe with empathy, and reflect on just what we're all about.

JCLBeckyC Nov 02, 2015

King's inventive and playful use of language is brilliant. Metaphorical, but sparse, not flowery, never cloying. She sucks you in. She's the candle at the bottom of the small-mouth bottle. You're the hard-boiled egg atop the small-mouth bottle, getting sucked in. At first you might be thinking, "I'm not a hard-boiled egg. I'm a human being and this is just a book." Let go of that thought. Allow yourself to be a hard-boiled egg for a while. It's the only way you'll get through the it King's asking us to crawl through. Follow along and don't ask too many questions. Pay attention, but don't worry if you don't understand. That's kind of the point. If you like Kurt Vonnegut, you'll love this surrealistic novel by A.S. King. Highly recommended.

KateHillier Oct 27, 2015

I'm not quite sure I understood what was going on here and I'm also not sure I was meant to. The book summary gives you a good starting point (four teenagers, all under pressure and about to explode) but the metaphors and magical realism and surrealism going on are a bit to take in. We have a girl who has turned herself inside out, a girl who is two people, a guy building an invisible helicopter, and a girl whose hair grows every time she lies (which is often). There are reason for all these things.

Is it an easy read? No. Do I fully understand what just happened? As I said, no. Am I glad I read it? Yes. If you can make it through I'd say it's worth the journey. A.S. King has never steered me wrong before and I can still say the same thing having finished it. You can't understand everyone's story and sometimes maybe you just aren't meant to.

g
gotta_blast
Oct 21, 2015

A. S. King has this gift that I've noticed, with each piece she creates. She's kinda like John Green in the way she crafts this landscape for her readers, this complex story line that begs to be made known. Her writing is beautiful, and this book is possibly my favorite yet.

JCLPeggyH Oct 07, 2015

The story of 4 teens who are trying to navigate through the hell that is high school despite daily bomb threat drills, excessive assessment testing and their own personal traumas. What an unusual read! Very intense and compelling, this book moves beyond magical realism into the territory of the surreal. While I certainly felt the emotion behind the stories (multiple character's points of view), I still don't understand all of it. But then maybe we aren't meant to.

JCLAmyF Aug 19, 2015

This may be my favorite AS King so far. It's a surreal masterpiece that's about trauma and the connections we try to make in a world where highschoolers are forced to take high-stakes, standardized tests in between intruder drills.

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JCLChrisK Dec 16, 2015

Blowing up isn't always external. It's not always easy to hear or see. Synapses fire every day in my brain. Thinking is just like exploding until it eventually scars you and you can't interact with people anymore. It's like one big, final detonation.

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