Book - 2019
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"The Shoveler, the Freak, CanIHelpYou?, Loretta the Flea-Circus Ring Mistress, and First-Class Malcolm. These are the five teenagers lost in the Hemmings family's maze of tangled secrets. Only a generation removed from being Pennsylvania potato farmers, Gottfried and Marla Hemmings managed to trade digging spuds for developing subdivisions and now sit atop a seven-figure bank account--wealth they've declined to pass on to their adult children or their teenage grandchildren. "Because we want them to thrive," Marla always says. What does thriving look like? Like carrying a snow shovel everywhere. Like selling pot at the Arby's drive-thru window. Like a first-class ticket to Jamaica between cancer treatments. Like a flea-circus in a double-wide. Like the GPS coordinates to a mound of dirt in a New Jersey forest. As the rot just beneath the surface of the Hemmings' precious suburban respectability begins to spread, the far-flung grandchildren gradually find their ways back to one another, just in time to uncover the terrible cost of maintaining the family name. With her inimitable prose and keen insight into teenage experience, A.S. King explores how a corrosive culture of polite, affluent white supremacy tears a family apart and how one determined generation can save themselves."--Amazon.ca.
Publisher: New York, New York :, Dutton Books,, [2019]
Copyright Date: ♭2019
ISBN: 9781101994917
Characteristics: 392 pages ;,22 cm.


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Oct 20, 2020

Excellent, but content 14+

JCLS_Ashland_Kristin Mar 31, 2020

The authorial intent is that this book be uncomfortable to read...and it is...but it is sooo much more. This is the first novel by a white author I've read that succeeds in thoroughly and thoughtfully unpacking the toxicity of whiteness. Oh, and there's a good story in there, too...if you can roll with AS King's amazingly quirky brand of magic-realism. If you loved Please Ignore Vera Deitz...READ THIS!

Mar 12, 2020

The grandparents in this story are caricatures of white racists. This is not the way to end white racism!

This is one of those books I think you would notice something different in each time you read it. There are so many layers to this narrative, though difficult to follow at first, that touch on many important issues and topics. It's a book you have to pay attention to, and a book that makes you think. This surrealist narrative style isn't necessarily for everyone, but it is definitely worth the read.

JCLChrisK Feb 08, 2020

This is a book that rewards the patient. It doesn't so much as invite readers into the story as it vomits the story up on them. It starts in the middle of events, then goes back and starts over, all of it with oddly named characters, disturbing thoughts and actions, and very little initial explanation for just what is happening or why readers should care. There is a hallucinatory quality to the narrative, and it's difficult to know what is real, what is metaphorical, and what is magical. "This book is supposed to be uncomfortable. I'd apologize, but I'm not sorry," King writes at the beginning of her acknowledgments. It is, and she doesn't need to. Readers who keep digging through the confusion and emotionally difficult topics will find a story that is profoundly authentic and a hopeful beacon of light in the darkness, made all the more powerful because the murkiness of the reading experience reflects the dark experiences of the characters. Life gets dirty. This book takes readers down into the filth and exposes all involved to the possibility of something better.

JCLShannonG Feb 05, 2020

I will admit that I had trouble getting into this one. However, once I did, I couldn't put it down! The concept is fascinating and unique.

Jan 08, 2020

This was such a TWISTED read I'm not entirely sure how to describe it. The writing style was easy to comprehend but unlike anything I've ever read before. Each chapter is written almost like a play? We are introduced to characters in the order that they appear, and then we are given a script/ story to read. I didn't so much mind the writing style as much as topics of some of the characters lives. I felt like some scenes were very CRUDLEY written and I was honestly disgusted by some of the topics. This was about a bunch of kids lives, who were incredibly messed up! One was an alcoholic racist. Another had to deal with Rape and Domestic Violence. There was drug abuse. I felt no relief reading this book, each character I was introduced to had to deal with a worse and worse situation. I felt so brought down by this book, I didn't want to finish this book. I kept thinking 'things have to get better for these characters lives,' but it only got worse with each chapter. A shocking amount of people rated this book 5 stars on good reads... I don't see it... but it could be my own personal bias with how crudely this book was written. I really hated this book, but I will say it was a fairly interesting read, there was always something incredibly shocking going on in each chapter. I did end up liking the ending, but not enough to ever recommend this book to anyone.

Jan 03, 2020

This book was a notch above okay for me. What I liked: the storytelling that kept us in the dark about who was connected to who through the use of pseudonyms, the resolve of the youngest generation to overcome the negative and make the future better, and the mystery of the missing girl. What I didn't like: the cover -- I chose to read this book to prepare for the Mock Printz Awards later this month, the unlikable adults in the story, and the crude undertones. If you want to read a book by A.S. King, I recommend "Everybody Sees the Ants."

sjpl_rebekah Aug 29, 2019

This book is bizarre from start to finish. It comes together in the end, but I was confused for about 3/4 of it. Personally it wasn’t my cup of tea. It was dark and delved into difficult topics such as abuse, murder, and deeply entrenched racism. There were many things that still didn’t make sense to me even at the conclusion, but I just did not have the bandwidth to wade back through the book to try to make all the connections. The writing style is very unique and it took me awhile to adjust to it. I would not be surprised if people DNF this book simply because it is difficult to follow. Although I can see why there is buzz surrounding this book, it is not one I will be widely recommending.

When I began reading this novel, I found the storytelling confusing and was very close to putting it back on the shelf. Fortunately, I kept reading and was soon surprised when all the characters fantastically developed and connected to each other in beautiful ways. I found myself entranced by the lives of each of characters. I especially loved Katie's story. After each chapter, I found myself taking a breather because the content in many of the chapters were jam packed with social commentary and well written characters with frustrating worldviews. When I finished the novel, I had a lot to think about it and the content of this book will stick with me for a very long time.

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SJPL_JessL Sep 08, 2019

SJPL_JessL thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over


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sjpl_rebekah Aug 29, 2019

Violence: abuse


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JCLChrisK Feb 08, 2020

If I was a superhero, my name would be Lonerman. My superpower would the the Existentialism--a ray I could shoot out of my hand that renders people powerless to face anything but their own personal pointlessness in an absurd world.


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