I Crawl Through It-A.S. King
A surreal novel about trauma: a sometimes-visible helicopter, a girl attached to her lab coat, a man in bushes, a girl whose hair grows when she lies, and a girl who has swallowed herself.
This is definitely one of those novels where people will either despise it and be unable to finish or people will be sucked up and carried along like flotsam on the current. I am in the latter camp. King's delivery is unlike anything else but it remains legible. Like there is clearly a reason why China has swallowed herself and is a stomach that day. Stanzi's absent parents remain there, recognizably parents who have sunk into themselves. I was an outcast in high school and I was basically Gustav, bored, hoping that somewhere out there were people who were interesting and smart and all in one place. I saw high school in this novel everywhere. The novel was not surreal to me so much as a constant manifestation of the isolation that high school kids can be in. This is not metaphor but rather a series of symbolic acts. Fascinating and so true. These kids are so alone, unable to shout in the language of adults (if any were around that is) that yes, they turn themselves inside out and watch the others around them. Even the mix of knowing the inner turmoil of each character and how others saw them and the struggles of friends to know how to help the unhelpable was so well done that I felt transported back to the mute struggles of high school. I would have made this book my spirit animal as a teenager; I was a huge Palahnuik fan at the time and this reminds me of what I loved in his novels without the slightly too precocious crudity. I've enjoyed this novel as an adult but deep inside, I really do always read YA books with that metric: Would teenage me have enjoyed it too?