‘You’re a writer?’
‘I need your help’
‘You see the sign on the door?’
‘What does it say?’
‘No visitors without appointment.’”
Karl is quiet, shy but stubborn. He is in love with cleaver, gorgeous Fiorella and she wants him to prove it. She has asked him to write the answers for a series of questions. However Karl is dyslexic, he has trouble structuring sentences and spelling out his feelings, but he hasn’t told her; worried that she will not love him if she thinks he’s stupid. So Karl enlists the help of a local author, a local author who Fiorella adores and admires. The author is 75 and doesn’t understand how he can really help, but agrees anyway and a friendship builds between the old man and the young guy, a friendship which will help them both in their own ways.
Aidan Chambers is a very interesting author. He has a very unique way of drawing you in and keeping your interest piqued. I am basing this on both Dying to Know You and his collection of short stories; The Kissing Game which are both very different but very similar at the same time.
I have never read any YA like Dying to Know you. For a start I was very surprised when I realised it was actually told form the authors point of view; the name of whom we are never told. Secondly it was told is such a strange way, all very realistic and in real time kind of, but not at the the same time. Chambers has a very unique story telling style and its hard to explain sometimes. I loved it because it grabs you and doesn’t let go but it also doesn’t give away a lot at once.
Dying to Know You is told in such a way that the reader is only told little bits about characters at a time. You have to piece every little thing together and work it all out bit by bit. I loved this and it kept me wanting to know more. But at the same time you are not told everything and you are left to guess some things about the characters, their backgrounds and their personalities. They are all deep characters, even down to Karl’s mum and Fiorella’s friend. I loved learning more about each character but I also loved how our narrator loved it too.
The characters were, as i say, deep. They had strong backgrounds, strong personalities and a strong like-ability, or at least most of them did. I really didn’t like Fiorella, she seemed pretentious yet annoyingly childish. I loved that we learn so much about the author yet never know his name and I wonder if Aidan Chambers actually wrote himself into the character at all. I loved Karl and thought he was so sweet and so lovely but needed to gather more of an idea about himself. Karl’s mum was awesome too, she cared so much but struggled with the inevitable loneliness that can occur once your child is growing up and you are an only parent. I thought that she and Karl could learn so much from each other and found myself hoping they would.
I loved the growing up aspect of this book, its all about finding yourself, love and friendship. Its about being true to yourself and gathering your own identity. Its got a brilliant, and kinda subtle message to put across and I was really impressed by it.
I have to say that whilst I loved the way this book was written I doubt it would be to everybody’s taste. It’s written with short sentences and lots of stops and state, including letters and emails and phone conversations within the text. I thought it was done really well but may be off-putting to others. I really enjoyed it though and it has made me want to read more from Chambers.
Dying to Know You was published in hardback on Aprils 29th by Bodley Head, a Random House imprint. My copy was sent to me in exchange for an honest review by the publisher.