David Klass’s novel, You Don’t Know Me is narrated by John, a fourteen-year-old boy who is smart, funny, and terribly depressed. His home life totally sucks. John’s mother is marrying a guy (aka “not my father”) who likes to knock John around, and John feels trapped by the threat of more violence if he tells his mother. He feels increasingly distanced from others, increasing convinced that no one really knows him.
John’s present tense narration comes from so deep in John’s head that the reader accompanies him in his downward spiral. Yet as darkly pessimistic as John’s outlook on life becomes, he’s still a funny guy. It’s a good read to suggest to fans of quirky books, such as A.S. King’s Everybody Sees the Ants.
The song You Don’t Know Me, co-written by Eddy Arnold and Cindy Walker in 1955, has been recorded by Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, Van Morrison, and countless others. But the most famous version is sung by Ray Charles, who sings this beautiful melody with a wistful sadness.
This week we’re skipping the studio recording and featuring this live version. It’s easier to hear Ray’s piano here, and you just can’t beat the man’s intensity.
— Diane Colson, currently reading Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi and listening to & Sons: A Novel by David Gilbert, narrated by George Newbern