Author Crush: A.S. King
My author crush is an author I didn't even realize I'd been reading and loving regularly until recently. I picked up A.S. King's book Reality Boy (TN KIN) a few years ago and fell in love with the character and the very raw emotional pain he deals with on a daily basis. It's the story of a guy who has a lot of anger management issues, all stemming from the toxic relationship with his sister and mother and the nanny reality tv show he was forced to go on when he was a child. He still gets recognized as the problem child, the kid who pooped on the dining room table, even 12 years later. His situation feels hopeless, unsolvable. He is on a knife's edge, seconds from snapping at every moment. Finding out whether or not he does will keep you reading late into the night.
A year later I read Please Ignore Vera Dietz (Jh KIN), the story of Vera, a senior who works 40 hours a week delivering pizzas on top of her school work, while dealing—or not dealing—with the death of her best friend Charlie and nursing a low-key drinking problem. She knows more about Charlie's death than she's telling and seeing his ghost everywhere and probably going to end up as pathetic as both of her parents. Her story is deeply compelling and so funny you will laugh out loud.
And then there is Ask the Passengers (Jh KIN) about Astrid, who's pretty sure she's gay, but not totally sure, and feeling pressure to figure life out from all sides. Her girlfriend doesn't get why she can't just come out. She can't tell her closeted best friend Christine, her strictly professional and cold-as-ice mother, her secretly stoned dad, or her sister who never talks to her. So she tells the passengers of airplanes flying overhead instead. And sometimes, they talk back.
A.S. King has many more books, including Everyone Sees the Ants (Jh KIN), Still Life with Tornado (TN KIN), Glory O'Brien's History of the Future (TN KIN), I Crawl through It (TN KIN), and Me and Marvin Gardens (Jh KIN). King's books explore characters with real problems, hard problems that seem hopeless and each devestating in their own way. Their stories are not always for the faint of heart, but they are well worth wading through some rough situations. Her characters are broken and wonderful in a way that has you rooting for them from page one. She is one of the best coming-of-age authors I have ever read.
If you would like to learn more about King and her love of YA, read this excellent interview she did recently with the State Library of Victoria, Australia here.