Vaunda Micheaux Nelson


There are always wonderful new books for us to discover and love. But I hope the amazing, stand-out titles that came before are not allowed to collect dust or be withdrawn from library shelves. I hope they are still being recommended and passed—with enthusiasm and passion—between book lovers. A keeper in my personal library and one well-worth rereading is You Don’t Know Me by David Klass, published in 2001. You can only be a first-time reader once, and I envy those who have this one ahead of them. It will blow their socks off.

David Klass tells an engrossing, unforgettable story of survival and hope from the painful, hilarious perspective of a lonely, frightened, yet resolute 14-year-old boy. John’s compelling voice quickly draws readers into his isolated world — he lives in a house that isn’t a house with a man who is not his father, attends anti-school, plays a frog that pretends to be a tuba, and finds comfort in guidelines for behavior derived from his own imagined Lashasa Palulu tribe.

As John approaches his inevitable meltdown, the reader feels the helplessness of one who cares but can only stand by and watch. You Don’t Know Me is complex, original, heartbreaking and, finally, hopeful.

Once you’ve lived in John’s world, he will stay in your heart forever. He remains in mine.