Four teens battle inner traumas from grief to anxiety to neglect. Stanzi’s parents compulsively visit sites of school shootings. China has eaten herself. Lansdale tells outlandish lies that make her hair grow. Gustav is busy assembling an invisible helicopter from a kit the bush man gave him. The bush man has all the answers. He knows the place Gustav and Stanzi can go, a place that has answers for them, too. Escape seems like the perfect solution, until it isn’t.
Honestly, I so didn’t get this book. I wanted to like it. I liked pieces of it. I think each character individually had a really fascinating story. I just didn’t really understand how they fit together and why they were all stories in the same book. Also, I kept expecting the odd stuff to be revealed as metaphors for something. I thought maybe this layer of fantasy would be pulled back to reveal a layer of reality that made sense beneath it – like Neal Shusterman’s Challenger Deep.
That doesn’t happen, though. The story remains sort of this weird urban Alice in Wonderland, where the lines between reality and I’m not even sure what – fantasy? Hallucination? – blur and loop back on themselves.
The narrative is strong and each character is profoundly unique, so there are some really powerful elements present. But I couldn’t get past feeling left hanging, waiting for things to click into place and make some kind of sense. I felt like I missed the boat somehow.
If you’re looking for an intense emotional read where nothing is predictable and the plot really takes you outside the box, I Crawl Through It will not disappoint. If you need a little more sense and reason in your fiction, it may not be the book for you. Try Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman or We Were Liars by E. Lockhart if you’re looking for something different about mental illness.
Extreme profanity used with moderate frequency.
A man lives in a bush near Stanzi’s house. He wears a trench coat but is naked underneath, and sometimes appears to expose himself. Stanzi kisses him, and there are hints that he may be having sex with some teen girls, but it’s never described. Patricia lives with Gary and he asks her for sex, but she makes excuses.
This isn’t really violence, but Stanzi is obsessed with biology and dissecting things, especially frogs. She doesn’t harm anything living.
The man who lives in the bush sells lemonade with or without roofies. Stanzi believes this is a joke. It’s never specified.