Elizabeth's Reviews > You Don't Know Me

You Don't Know Me by David Klass
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's review
Mar 26, 11

bookshelves: favorites, books-i-own, characters-i-love
Read in April, 2010

I requested a sample of this book and nearly walked away from it after reading the first couple of chapters, unable to connect with the author's writing style or the protagonist in the novel. But in reading the reviews, I stumbled across one written by someone who had the same gut reaction I did. This person almost walked away as well, but stuck it out and wrote a raving review of the novel. So I figured, what the heck, it s/he could do it, so could I. What a blessing to have stumbled across that review! Had I not, I would have missed out on one of the best pieces of Y/A fiction I have ever read.

Once the book was delivered to my Kindle I dove back in, eager to find out if what I'd read was true. And it was so much more than I could have ever expected. Certainly the beginning of the story is a little odd. The writing style, at first, seems a bit clunky and disjointed until you recognize the protagonist, John, is a twisted sort of fellow who's created a safe place, within his mind, in which to dwell. Once that concept is grasped, the story flows effortlessly.

I noticed a few negative reviews which noted repetition. But once you immerse yourself in John's world, this repetition makes perfect sense. It's a reflection of the way in which his mind operates, filling spaces and voids in order to avoid reality. It conjured in my mind instances where I'd repeat pleasant or humorous ideas when the world around me was going a little bonkers. In short, it was a great mechanism with which to explore John's struggles to cope.

David Klass, the author, has created a character the reader can empathize with, can relate to and one you want to seek out and hug. John is an injured soul, trapped in an impossible circumstance. Abused by "the man who is not his father" on a near constant basis and unable to confide in his absentee mother, John internalizes his fear and anger and hatred. John also creates an alternate reality for himself, where tubas are bullfrogs and Mrs. Moonface has a secret plot to undermine the self-esteem of her students.

Every single character in this book is alive and unique and interesting, even the crumby ones. From the strange "friends who are not friends" to Glory Hallelujah to Mr. Steenwilly. They each, in their own special way, add so much dimension and heart to this breathtaking novel, their names and voices are impossible to forget.

I implore you, if this novel rubs you the wrong way from the gate, give it a chance. It's wonderful. So much so that I have now sought out more of David Klass' writings and intend to consume them all. In short, this is a brilliant novel, with a unique twist on an all too common subject.

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