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I Crawl Through It

Review

I Crawl Through It

A prodigy who builds an invisible helicopter. A poet who swallows herself whole.  A nudist who builds gorgeous sculptures in the shape of letters. A biologist who splits herself in two. These are just a few of the characters who bring Printz Honor author A.S. King’s new surreal novel, I CRAWL THROUGH IT, to life.

Told from five different points of view, I CRAWL THROUGH IT is a story of survival, of coping with the anxieties of growing up in 21st century America. As test week is approaching, bomb threats come pouring in. Every day, students are forced to move outside, to evacuate, to reconcile their identities with the way they are seen by each other --- as a collection of Scantron answers, Facebook photos, false stories or career paths. Stanzi, China, Gustav and Lansdale are all bright, are all bursting at the seams, are all internalizing their anxieties (terribly) in their own way. They shield the most vulnerable parts of themselves from the rest of the world.

The nudist who lives down the street gives them letters in exchange for kisses and gives Gustav the blueprints for a helicopter that will take Stanzi and him to a place where they will feel at peace. When they go missing, the reporters come, but nobody will answer their questions. China steals away to New York to see a boyfriend she met online. Lansdale tries to find someone, anyone, who can hold a conversation with her.  

This book embodies the disruption it stands for….expressing [issues] through the surreal gives them a resonance that can’t be captured in the mundane.

This could have easily been a more typical young adult novel. With her obsessions with biology and M*A*S*H, Stanzi, whose perspective we see the most, is more than memorable enough to carry a story on her own. Factor in the vibrant and dynamic supporting cast and complex character arcs and this could have been great. Great, yes, but also just another YA novel.

With its unique narrative structure and surreal aspects, however, this book embodies the disruption it stands for. There are many eloquent ways to discuss the issues these characters deal with (sexual assault, death, depression and anxiety). However, expressing them through the surreal gives them a resonance that can’t be captured in the mundane. Is there a more visceral way to represent anxiety than literally swallowing yourself whole?

If you’re the type of reader who needs to understand the meaning of every symbol and theme, this is not a book for you. If you’re not afraid to be a bit confused, to understand a book without having the words to explain why or even what you understand, you need this book in your life. 

Reviewed by Matthew Mastricova on September 21, 2015

I Crawl Through It
by A.S. King

  • Publication Date: August 16, 2016
  • Genres: Youth Fiction
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 0316334081
  • ISBN-13: 9780316334082