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Dig
by A.S. King
Call Number: Fiction

“Dig.”  by A.S. King is a hard book to talk about. It’s not that I don’t fully recommend it, I do;  it is because the novel fluidly moves between so many different settings and narrators.  The novel is extremely grounded, yet there are scenes where a character is being magical and nobody seems bothered by that. It is a book of contrasts that twist together in a way that I’ve never quite read in any book before.

On that note, I’d probably only recommend it for older teens. Sure, there’s a lot of mature content, but that’s not really the hesitation I’d have in recommending it to younger readers. The real reason is this book is written so much like experimental fiction that is typically only seen in adult novels. I guarantee someday that this will be a novel given to students to read in a college level fiction class.

It is actually written much better than your average adult best-seller book. To say that its only smart is not enough, the book is timely. It maturely covers so many different topics that the average person struggles with on a daily basis.. The dialogue is believable, and most of the characters are realistically flawed. Other reviewers have called this book “surreal”, and while I agree, you just have to know going in that you’re going to be confused by what is happening at times. This is on purpose, and everything will eventually make sense if you make it to the end.

So finally, let’s actually get to what the book is about. The book follows a group of families that share secrets about their past, and how everyone’s lives tie together. Many of the characters are dealing with abuse, racism, their sexuality, poverty and privilege. Each chapter typically follows a different character, and many of the teenagers feel lost and unheard in some way. This is not to say that they have all the answers, either. Rather, the reader sees the disconnect between various generations and cultural divides with each changing narrator. What is important and how their daily lives play out is vastly different from the rich to the poor.

Most of the younger characters, too, don’t choose to call themselves by normal names. Instead, a way that much of the book names the characters is how they see themselves through other people. For example, there’s characters that typically go by names such as “the Freak”, “the Shoveler”, and “CanIHelpYou?”.  I will also be blunt that there are some characters that say and do some pretty awful things in this book, so know that it will go to some pretty dark places. The message of the book is extremely positive in the end, and the way all the characters eventually tie-in together was unexpected. I would highly recommend this book to those teens that typically prefer to dabble in adult-level books, or anyone looking for a mind-bending mystery.

Ryan Gay
November 13, 2019
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