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A Reader of Fictions: Art in Me - Jars of Clay

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Monday, April 2, 2012

Art in Me - Jars of Clay

Dying to Know You

Author: Aidan Chambers
Pages: 275
ARC Acquired from: ABRAMS via NetGalley

Description from Goodreads:
In Dying to Know You, award-winning author Aidan Chambers has created an indelible portrait of a young man discovering his own voice in the world, and has constructed a love story that is as much about the mind as it is the heart.

In this contemporary love story, a teenage boy named Karl enlists a famous writer to help him impress his girlfriend, Fiorella. She has asked him to write her a letter in which he reveals his true self. But Karl isn’t convinced he’s good enough with words, so he tracks down Fiorella’s favorite author and begs him to take up the task. The writer reluctantly assents, on the condition that Karl agree to a series of interviews, so that the letter will be based on an authentic portrait of Karl. The letter, though effective, has unexpected consequences for Karl, Fiorella, and the writer.

First Sentence: "'Could I talk to you?'"

Dying to Know You is driven by the conversations between the characters, so it is a very brief read. From the beginning, though, it definitely captured my attention. Chambers does a lot of interesting things here, and, while very odd, I definitely wanted to see just where the story was going and how Chambers would get it there.

The only comparison I can come up with off the top of my head for a similar book is Adios, Nirvana. The style and mood of the two novels is quite disparate, but they both center around a young man learning from an old man. Through a series of interviews, the young men grow as individuals, overcome something with which they have been struggling.

I really respect Chambers for trying something different narratively from the usual YA fare. That said, Dying to Know You could be a tough sell, because it is just very much not like what I would have expected. For example, the book, though marketed to young adult readers, is told from the perspective of an old man, and not one looking back on his own life. There are several occasions where he describes his old man problems, rather than focusing on Karl. I think I would have preferred to see this done from multiple points of view, rather than just the writer's.

Additionally, I wasn't a huge fan of Chambers' writing. The story is interesting and unique, but his simple prose did not appeal to me, nor did his characters. No one in this book seemed to brim with life particularly, which is really a shame. There were some nice quotes and I enjoyed the coverage of the book's themes, but I just never felt invested. Also, I've never really been a huge fan of the novels that purport to be about real events; they generally turn out rather awkward.

You might like this book if you like sparse prose, a lot of dialogue and YA books with a unique perspective.

Rating: 2.5/5

Favorite Quote: "'Sometimes the course of our lives depends on what we do or don't do in a few seconds, a heartbeat, when we either seize the opportunity, or just miss it. Miss the moment and you never get a chance again.'"

"Sculpting every move you compose a symphony
You plead to everyone, 'see the art in me'"

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Anonymous Christina Kit. said...

I like different forms, ie epistolary, free verse, but I though it would be from the boy's experience.

I see why you're iffy about it.

April 3, 2012 at 12:55 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yeah, in theory I approve, but it really just didn't work for me. The book raised some good topics, but I just felt kind of meh about it in the end.

April 3, 2012 at 12:58 PM  

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