YOU DON’T KNOW ME by David Klass


Age Range: 12 - 16
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Klass (Screen Test, 1997, etc.) has woven a captivating first-person narrative with an original voice. John is convinced that no one knows him. Not his kind-of-friends, not the teachers in his "anti-school" ("School is for learning and this place is for being stupid"), and certainly not his mother, who just might marry this boyfriend, the one that beats him when she isn't looking. John's piercingly funny narrative describes his days in his torturous algebra class ("I hear nothing. The sound waves part before they get to me and re-form when they have passed me by. Algebra does not have the power to penetrate my feverish isolation"), his okay music class ("To my surprise, the giant frog who is pretending to be my tuba suddenly comes very much to life"), a disastrous date with the much-sought-after Gloria ("Glory Hallelujah"), and the nightmare of being left alone with his soon-to-be stepfather while his mother is away. His humor stems from boredom, intense loneliness, and fear, and his story keeps the reader both howling with laughter and petrified. His narrative has a consistently narrow view, taking the reader through his twisted thoughts and emotions, while letting enough trickle through so that readers can see more than he does. Thankfully, of course, someone does know John, and steps up to save him. His mother (to whom the narrative is addressed) is never quite fleshed out as a character. Perhaps this is because John feels so keenly ignored by her, yet it makes her entrance at the end feel thin. Nevertheless, this is an engrossing story, in the vein of Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak (1999), to which readers will immediately connect. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-374-38706-0
Page count: 266pp
Publisher: Frances Foster/Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2001


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