"When I was done with makeup exams, I broke all my number two pencils in half so they could feel how I feel every day." -Stanzi
Seeking to escape the chaos/boredom of school, Gustav is building an invisible helicopter to fly to a colony of geniuses. Stanzi, a biology prodigy, can only see the helicopter on Tuesdays (ha!), but she agrees to run away with her secret crush. Stanzi's alcoholic parents won't notice her absence. Her best friend, China, has turned herself inside out, wearing her guts like skin and expressing herself in poetry. Another friend tells only lies, making her hair grow. The unreliable narration alternates among the three girls.
"Your Number Two Pencil Has More Self-Esteem Than I Do." -ChinaAre you still following me? I Crawl Through It is not an easy book to summarize. This puzzle-cum-novel is built from paradoxes and metaphors with multiple meanings. In my reading, the invisible helicopter represented creative innovation. Only a genius can see what others cannot see or visit a place that few can find. However, King's isolated colony of geniuses is more of a dystopia than a utopia. As Stanzi asks, what's the point of discovering the cure for cancer if you can't save other lives?
"There is no such thing as individuality when one is part of a collective of people who think they're all individuals."
A.S King writes in the acknowledgement pages, "Some people don't know if my characters are crazy or if they are experiencing something magical. I think that's an accurate description of how I feel every day."
Reviewer's Disclaimer: Upon my request to Little Brown Books for Young Readers, I received a digital galley through netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This book was released last month and has garnered starred reviews from Publishers' Weekly, School Library Journal, The Horn Book and Booklist. My photo is from Simpson's Point, where I read most of this book. It's too chilly for swimming now but still my favorite destination to bike from home at high tide.
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