Dialogue is hard to write, and even harder to write with intense authenticity. Aidan Chambers manages to write a novel heavilly dependent on short scenes of dialogue and he does it well. Obviously this technique may not be for every reader, but I found it a highly effective and compelling introduction to Chambers’ writing.
Karl enlists a famous author, the narrator of the novel, to write letters for him to send to his girlfriend who has requested he write to her. Karl is dyslexic and so conflicted by this and so reaches out to Fiorella’s favourite author who obliges in exchange for getting to know him. In a way, this concept could easily derail and turn into something quite creepy, to say the least, however Chambers skillfully avoids this and the resulting almost paternal relationship between Karl and the author is my personal highlight of the book.
Fiorella somehow comes across as very unlikeable, at times this is intentional but from the start I just didn’t warm to the sound of her. I felt Karl deserved someone more understanding and who he could be honest about his dyslexia with. Art is respectfully treated within the novel and comprises a key role within the novel. In particular Karl’s understanding and development of art is tactfully and beautifully written.
Depression also is a motif in the book and Chambers artfully and sensitively handles it, showing from the author’s view how it feels and looks to have a friend in the midst of such lows.
This book is more of a slow-burn than a high-octane novel, it is sort of the equivalent of ‘literary’ fiction for young adults and so I understand it isn’t for everyone, but it was definitely for me and I do happily recommend this novel to my readers.
I received this book for free through NetGalley and ABRAMS publishers and am highly grateful for the opportunity. Dying to Know You will be published on April 1st.