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.
If I had to choose one word to describe this book it would be “unique”. As is the case with all of the books that I have read by A. S. King, the writing in I CRAWL THROUGH IT was beautifully phrased, very engaging for the reader, and the story itself demonstrates surrealism at it’s finest.
I was drawn to this book initially based on the synopsis which describes four teenage characters who have been faced with various traumatic experiences, grief, and anxiety. As a mental health advocate, I love a good book that deals with themes of mental health and emotional turbulence. I CRAWL THROUGH IT was no exception to this rule as it puts a surrealist spin on the classic YA mental health fiction.
While I was reading this book, I felt as though the author did an excellent job with character development which allows the reader to really get to know the characters in all of their bizarre glory. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book with quite so many strange and quirky elements to each character and I absolutely loved that about I CRAWL THROUGH IT! Each character is an individual in seemingly outlandish ways that remind the reader of the individuality of each and every person in the world. For example, one of the four characters, China, has swallowed herself which leaves her body inside-out while another character, Lansdale, is a pathological liar whose hair grows each time that she lies (very pinocchio-esque). While these character traits seemed quite odd at the beginning of the novel, I found them to be very symbolic in their representations of the characters’ traumatic experiences by the end. For example, I interpreted China’s state of being physically inside-out to be a representation of her attempt to escape her mental trauma by turning in on herself.
Furthermore, I really enjoyed the way that this book represents the vast differences between how each individual copes with trauma. I felt as though the author had an appreciation for the fact that no two people cope with trauma in the same way and this really shines through in the novel. While the story itself is very surreal, the underlying messages are extraordinarily realistic and important to understanding trauma and the process of overcoming traumatic experiences. Despite these individual experiences of trauma, the author also did a wonderful job of succinctly demonstrating that the key to overcoming trauma is to face it head on rather than trying to escape it. In this regard, I think the author did an excellent job of recognizing the individuality of the experience while also acknowledging the overarching key to recovery.
With all of that being said, the one potential downfall to the book is that it was a bit tricky to follow. As is the case for many of the surrealist books which I have read in the past, I CRAWL THROUGH IT was a bit confusing at times; however, I really enjoyed this aspect of the book. While some people may not enjoy a book which leaves them feeling confused, I embrace this confusion because it encourages a deeper level of thinking. When everything in the book seems symbolic, there is an opening for metaphorical thinking and interpretation. If there is one thing that I do well, it’s overthinking even the smallest of details. For this reason, I think the confusing plot and structure of the book made me love it even more because it gave me the opportunity to interpret the story in my own way rather than having the author spell it out for me in a simple linear path as other books often do. I CRAWL THROUGH IT leaves so many things up to the imagination and while some readers may not like this, I absolutely LOVED it about the book.
If you’re looking for a fast paced book that will delve into deep subject matter while leaving you confused and searching for meaning in every aspect of the story, I CRAWL THROUGH IT is the book for you.
Thanks for reading!
Note: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest reader review. The opinions expressed herein are mine alone.