Monday, June 25, 2012
You Don't Know Me by David Klass
Klass writes a very realistic portrayal of abuse and the secrets that victims carry with them out of very real fear. Told from the first person POV, and almost with a Faulknerian style, the reader gets to see events, people, and John – himself – through an unfiltered lens. Also, the author refused to describe the main character so that it could be anyone. We make a lot of assumptions; however, we rarely know what’s really going on in people’s lives simply by looking at them - hence, the recurring theme of “you don’t know me.”
Although some people may find the stream of consciousness distracting, I felt as though it added authenticity to John’s voice by contrasting the John that people saw on the outside with the real John that lived inside of his head. Another aspect that added authenticity to this novel was that no one was perfect, and each person had their own version of reality.
The benefit of this novel is that it provides a window into young adults suffering from abusive homes. The goal isn’t to demonize the mother for not knowing, victimize John for suffering, or immortalize the teacher who tried to help. The goal of the novel, to me, was to show what the many facets represents. Kids don’t always act out when they’re in pain. Sometimes, they simply fade into he background. In fact, there’s a scene in the novel where Klass depicts an algebra class where students are so insecure about being called on that they purposefully wear clothing to blend in with posters on the wall. That’s what abuse victims do throughout life. If they become invisible, then the hope is that the abuser won’t be able to land that hit, and no one will be able to see the permanent bruises left behind.