Dying to Know You Hardcover – 26 Apr 2012
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"Deliberate in pace and carefully insightful in its investigation of character, Chamber’s latest is a work of art that repays multiple readings" (Michael Cart Booklist)
"Packed to the brim with challenging ideas, the latest from Chambers is simultaneously an acutely observed and surprising love story. An organic yet intricately crafted story of self-discovery . . . This is a generous gift" (Publishers Weekly)
"This is a teasingly provocative and touching cross-generational story, written with a rare candour about love, sex, thoughts of suicide and growing old" (Julia Eccleshare Guardian)
"Chambers is so skilled, so calmly truthful in his writing. What emerges is not just a moving, unexpected story of the complexity of teenagers, but also a story of later life, of ageing and loss, and what experience really means" (Patrick Ness Guardian)
"It takes a writer with the superb skill and sensitivity of Chambers to adapt the Cyrano de Bergerac story and turn it into a modern tale of grief, growth and acceptance . . . Great tenderness, authentic dialogue and elegantly crafted plotting. A book to be read and re-read" (Sally Morris Daily Mail)
From the master storyteller, Aidan Chambers, comes this new thought-provoking novel for teenagers.See all Product description
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Despite the simplistic storyline, Chambers has written a novel which actually encompasses some big ideas/ themes. Perhaps the most obvious is how we find our own voice, how we express ourselves. There is also the undercurrent of grief - both Karl and the author have lost loved ones; tentatively, together they begin to explore how this has affected them. Relationships also play a huge part within this book. There is the obvious relationship between Karl and Fiorella, but there is also the relationship between Karl and the author - one with a big age gap - as well as mother and son relationships; what brings people together and what pushes them apart.
DYING TO KNOW YOU is a fantastic book. Do not be deceived by the supposedly simplistic story - there are many layers to this novel and Chambers has portrayed them all brilliantly.
This is the story of Karl, a quiet but thoughtful 17 year old who is madly in love with 16 year old Fiorella. Fiorella likes Karl, but she has concerns that he doesn't express his emotions and feelings to her and would like Karl to write down his answers to a series of questions about himself and what he thinks about love and other things.
This terrifies Karl as he suffers from dyslexia and has difficulties putting his words into writing. So, Karl asks an elderly writer in the neighbourhood to help Karl put his thoughts into writing. And what follows is a very unexpected but utterly lovely story of friendship between Karl and the unnamed writer.
Honestly, this book was just so sweetly written. I found it very odd to begin with that Dying to Know You's narrator is the ageing writer. He tells this story with little anecdotes of how old age has affected him and his perspective is that of a person towards the end of his life with Karl as this breath of fresh air that gives the older man hope, especially after the recent death of his wife. Such a mismatched pair, Karl and this man, but theirs is a friendship that I felt deeply about, almost to my surprise.
And I do so love Karl. He changes quite a bit over the course of the novel. At first, very unsure of himself and not thinking highly of himself due to the limitations of his dyslexia. I found it interesting, this focus on communication in written form, when there so many ways to communicate. But as Karl and the writer spend time together, discussing all manner of topics including love, Karl begins to come out of his shell a bit, he gains confidence in himself and his abilities and is able to express himself in a very different way.
Much of the book is the dialogue between Karl and the older man and the writing is very simplistic, there's no added flowery bits of narration. It's very much a simple account of their conversations, but I think it's beautiful in its very pared down way.
Gorgeous book, possibly not a book for everyone, with it's slow pace and the book's emphasis on this gentle affection for two people. But a book I genuinely loved.
I loved the different styles Aidan Chambers used throughout this book. Both when Karl's answers were being re-written but also the poems and later in the story Karl explanation.
We learn a lot about Karl from the observations our narrator makes, his commentary being honest but without judgement, something that helps Karl open up. It's not just Karl that grows. I was actually surprised by how much characters such as Firella mature beyond their first impression.
Dying to Know You isn't action packed; it's a story that looks closely at love, family and friendship. It is a truly heart-warming book that will make you fall in love a little more, with each new page you turn.