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Dying to Know You

Dying to Know You

3.8 10
by Aidan Chambers

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With Dying to Know You, award-winning author Aidan Chambers has created an indelible portrait of a young man discovering his own voice in the world, and has constructed a story that is as much about the artistic mind as it is the heart.
In this contemporary love story, a teenage boy named Karl enlists a famous writer to help him impress his girlfriend,


With Dying to Know You, award-winning author Aidan Chambers has created an indelible portrait of a young man discovering his own voice in the world, and has constructed a story that is as much about the artistic mind as it is the heart.
In this contemporary love story, a teenage boy named Karl enlists a famous writer to help him impress his girlfriend, Fiorella. She has asked him to write her a letter in which he reveals his true self. But Karl isn’t convinced he’s good enough with words, so he tracks down Fiorella’s favorite author and begs him to take up the task. The writer reluctantly assents, on the condition that Karl agrees to a series of interviews, so that the letter will be based on an authentic portrait of Karl. The letter, though effective, has unexpected consequences for Karl, Fiorella, and the writer.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Packed to the brim with challenging ideas, the latest from Chambers—winner of the Printz Award, Carnegie Medal, and Hans Christian Andersen Award, among others—is simultaneously an acutely observed (and surprising) love story; the chronicle of a young man coming into his own as an artist; and a slippery, twisting examination of the art of storytelling. Events kick off when an unnamed 75-year-old author opens his door to an uninvited guest: Karl, an 18-year-old apprentice plumber, who seeks help fulfilling his literary-minded girlfriend’s demand that he write to her about his “inner secrets.” For Karl, who is dyslexic and naturally reserved, this kind of writing is nearly impossible. For the nameless author, the challenge enables him to reopen a part of his life he thought had closed forever. This organic yet intricately crafted story of self-discovery unfurls mainly through the elderly narrator’s first-person account—which, admittedly, may not be an easy sell for teens—as well as e-mails and instant messages. For readers savvy enough to engage with it on any of its many levels, this is a generous gift. Ages 14–up. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Denise Daley
The story begins when an unimposing young man named Karl knocks on the door of elderly author that he has never met, and asks a favor. Karl explains to the author that his girlfriend Fiorella wants Karl to write her letters that explain his feelings for her. Not only is Karl dyslexic, he is also reserved and not comfortable writing. He knows that the author's work is greatly admired by Fiorella so he wants the author to write the letters for him. Such begins an introspective and interesting relationship amongst all of the involved parties. The author's own experiences with love and loss enable him to support Karl as he sorts through unresolved emotions pertaining to his father's untimely death. As Karl searches for a deeper understanding of love he develops a better understanding of himself. In helping Karl to uncover his true feelings, the author unknowingly discovers his own and is able to work out some of his own conflicts. This well-written novel has drama as well as some action and suspense, but it is the philosophical conversations between Karl and the author that are truly moving and thought-provoking. Reviewer: Denise Daley
ALAN Review - La'Toya Wade
Karl Williamson is in a predicament. His girlfriend, Fiorella, wants him to write her letters about himself, in order for her to get a better understanding of who he is. However, what she does not know is that Karl is dyslexic. On top of that, he also does not really know who he is, but he will do anything to impress his girlfriend. So he decides to enlist the help of her favorite author to help him write the letters, which the author agrees to. Dying to Know You is a story about two people who form an unlikely friendship and learn a lot about each other and themselves along the way. Chambers tells an insightful and touching story about self-discovery, growth, love, and friendship through the eyes of a 75-year-old author who is helping a young boy in love. Reviewer: La'Toya Wade
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Quiet, good-looking, and sensitive, 18-year-old Karl Williamson has a secret. He's dyslexic and much better with his hands than with words. When Fiorella, his new love interest, insists he open up to her in writing, he seeks help from a prominent local author. There are shades of Cyrano de Bergerac, but this is not a retelling of the classic. Karl's ghostwriter isn't a rival for Fiorella's affection. Rather, he's a 75-year-old unnamed novelist dealing with his own heartache. A friendship develops that benefits both the teen and the author. ("I knew he was helping me as much as I hoped I could help him, though he didn't know how, and I still wasn't certain myself.") As the story progresses, Karl's problems are revealed to be more damaging and difficult than at first they seemed, giving the novel depth and complexity. Told from the perspective of the older man, this book explores the realities of love versus attraction, the joys and challenges of writing, depression and moving on after a loss, finding a purpose, and seizing life's opportunities. Readers are hooked with snappy dialogue and keen insights; Karl is a multifaceted and likable character who will keep them engaged and rooting for him to find his way in love and in life. This is a great title to recommend to introspective teens who enjoy character development and coming-of-age drama.—Patricia N McClune, Conestoga Valley High School, Lancaster, PA
Kirkus Reviews
Will a story told in believable first-person voice by a 75-year-old man truly strike a chord with a teen audience? The answer is yes, though it may be a smallish one. Karl approaches the older man, an author, with a request. His new girlfriend, Fiorella, has tasked him with providing a series of written answers to questions she's composed so that she can find out more about him. But Karl, an 18-year-old plumber who's no longer in school, is dyslexic; answering the questions is beyond him. Seeing something of himself in Karl, the author reluctantly agrees to help, but acquiring a good understanding of Karl is hard. Only slowly recovering from grief over his father's death, the boy doesn't like to talk about himself. The friendship the two form as Karl gradually gains knowledge of himself that isn't based on the previous failures in his life is artfully, touchingly portrayed. It's filtered through the fictional author's aged point of view, which is punctuated with prostate issues and his own sorrow over the recent death of his wife. As Karl matures, the author also changes, finding a welcome release from his emotional pain. The storyteller's unique perspective ultimately enhances the tale but also skews it to a more sophisticated group of readers. This quietly understated performance captures the wistfulness of music in a minor key and is ultimately successful in its life-affirming message. (Fiction. 12 & up)

Product Details

Amulet Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.20(d)
HL720L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Aidan Chambers has received international acclaim and won every major young adult prize, including the Michael L. Printz Award and the Carnegie Medal. He lives in Gloucester, England, with his wife, Nancy. To learn more, visit him online at aidanchambers.co.uk.

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Dying to Know You 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Bwitchd3 More than 1 year ago
This book is interesting, fun, and very insightful. Although it is for young adults, it’s geared more towards older teens, such as 16 and on. That’s not to say that younger teens wouldn’t enjoy the story, but it would be more appreciated by people who have experienced their first love. Chambers takes an inventive approach to his writing, not always relaying on paragraphs to get his point across, but also using dialogue form to keep the conversation’s integrity.
ClaireFrith More than 1 year ago
This book is an amazing story about life and the friendships we make. The story is about an 18 year-old boy named Karl, coming to terms with himself and with life. He enlists the help of the narrator, a 75 year-old novelist. At the beginning, he needs his help to write his feelings on a list of various topics, as his girlfriend has asked him to do this for her. The narrator, see's a lot of himself in this young boy, and agree's to help. What's to follow is a journey with high's and low's, pushing the boundaries of friendship and feelings. This book was absolutely fantastic, and utterly heart-warming. To watch this friendship blossom, between two men of extremely differing ages is truely astounding. Men, women, young and old should read this book, to renew a little love that may be lost.
majibookshelf More than 1 year ago
I was a bit hesitant in starting Dying to know you, for once, it was narrated by an older man (in his 60s, based on some descriptions), and that is a first for young adult novels! Basically Karl, an 18 year old boy, asks for help from this older man, to help him with his girlfriend. Fiorella, the girlfriend, gave Karl a list of questions and asked him to answer them, a way to get to know Karl better. Karl thought that what better way to do it than getting help from Fiorella's favorite author? For whatever reason, the older man, the AUTHOR, accepted this challenge. This is when the story truly begins. I was so intrigued! Everything that happened was told from the author's point of view, it was definitely different! The first 50 or so pages sucked me right into the story; you witnessed the problems Karl had with his life, the growing bond Karl and the author, and also the letters that the author wrote based on the interviews he had with Karl. I only have one wish, and it was that I wished the duo formed more letters/answered more questions. I loved the limited letters that were written. Imagine getting to know someone through questions/answer format. You get to understand Karl more, but at the same time I got even more confused. I kept on comparing him with my brother, Karl felt lost, floating in this world aimlessly.. maybe because of his condition, his creativity surprised me. the way he evaluated the surroundings, the meaning of his life, and what he is meant to be. He is definitely an enjoyable character. Aidan Chambers wrote such a simplistic book, without any major drama and I still stuck to it to the end and actually enjoyed it very much!! I am really liking the direction contemporaries are heading, they're not just the cuteness they used to be, but actually have meaning.
Buried-in-Books More than 1 year ago
fFirst the story. The story line is compelling and the writing is subtly beautiful. At first you just want to know, what is so great about this Fiorella that makes this plumber Karl, who obviously has a lot inside of him, seek out her favorite author and ask for his help. And the author agrees. On condition. Karl is a hard character to get to know, to both the author and to us. He doesn't like to give anything away, only what is asked for, but Fiorella has a huge list of questions she wants him to write in letters to him. She is basically demanding that he reveal himself to her in letters, love letters, so that she knows all about him. Karl is a quiet man, only 18, but already has a trade and we learn more about him in the silences than we do in the conversations he has with the author. The story is told through the author's point of view and his observations may or may not bias us towards certain people. But he does give us a lot of insight into the other characters in the novel and himself. He is clever in seeking the answers to the questions Fiorella has asked and good at writing the letters in a way that it sounds like Karl would have written them. The pace is kind of slow, but this wouldn't be a story you could rush. It's like the unfolding of a map as Karl, with the help of the author, Fiorella, his mother and others slowly learns who he is and isn't. The author and Karl have much in common, the loss of someone dear to them, depression, doubts about who they are and what they are doing in life. But the author has the luxury of experience, so he has answers. But he doesn't want to feed them to Karl, he wants Karl to discover them on his own, learn from his mistakes. Whenever the author starts in on something about himself, he writes, "but that has nothing to do with Karl's story," and leaves off anything about himself. So we don't know too much about the author and yet we do by knowing Karl. It's not an exciting story, but a slow enjoyable story about Karl discovering himself. It gave me pause to think many times and I smiled many times as I read. I love the relationships Karl formed with the author and the one he had with his mother and his boss, who had been his father's best friend. I absolutely hated Fiorella! She was not deserving of Karl and even though we don't see much of her, we read about her a lot and she's just shallow and cruel. The fact that she demands these letters alone was a sure sign that I wouldn't like her. The ending is so unexpected and warranted that I was sorry it was over. But I was left with a feeling of peace and contentment, that it was the right way to end it. I realized that it was the way I felt throughout the novel. Peaceful and assured. I felt like the author, in the story, was guiding everything toward this particular ending and that I had just been along for the ride. Just a note-When I say author, I mean the person narrating the story. I don't remember ever getting his name and as I thumbed through, his name wasn't ever revealed. So, the author could have been Aiden Chambers or it could have been a character in the novel. There is a reference to how hard it is to publicize books after you've written them, that writing them is the easy part. It felt like Aiden Chambers was speaking directly to us, his audience. It was very cleverly written as if it all happened to Aiden Chambers himself. There is talk of suicide and sex in this novel so use your discretion.
SleepDreamWrite More than 1 year ago
This one's a tie between 3.5 and 4. So, I heard about this from Laura (Boundless Bindings). You have a guy that wants to impress the girl he likes by getting her favorite writer to help him write answers to questions she wants him to answer. Easier said than done when Karl is dyslexic. And from there, a slow friendship and bond grows between the writer and Karl. This one, I had taken a longer break than I thought and finally saw it on the shelf and continued to read where I left off. The writing was good, especially the descriptions, the thoughts of both characters. Then there's the pacing. Don't get me wrong, I like a slow pace book as much as the next person. But with this, it did takes its time. Then the story takes a turn halfway into the book. And I don't mind at all. Okay maybe a little. But still, it was a good read. Even if you weren't sure at first who was talking. And with most pages, its mostly dialogue driven. Not that that's a bad thing. Good read and I like the cover.
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Good grades dont mean shx