You Don't Know Me

You Don't Know Me

by David Klass


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Moving, wholly involving, original, and emotionally true, You Don't Know Me is a multilayered young adult novel that presents a winning portrait of an understandably angst-ridden adolescent.

John ("My father named me after a toilet!") wrestles with the certainty that no one really knows him -- not in his miserable home, and certainly not at school. It's true that no one can guess his hidden thoughts, which are hilarious, razor-sharp observations about lust, love, tubas, algebra, everything. And then there's his home: his father ran off years ago, so he's being raised by his mother, who works long hours, and by her boyfriend, whom John calls "the man who is not and never will be my father." This man is his enemy, an abusive disciplinarian who seems to want to kill John and, in a horrible final confrontation, nearly succeeds.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312653026
Publisher: Square Fish
Publication date: 09/14/2010
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 86,148
Product dimensions: 6.96(w) x 11.08(h) x 0.76(d)
Lexile: 970L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

David Klass is the author of many young adult novels, including You Don't Know Me, Losers Take All, and Grandmaster. He is also a Hollywood screenwriter, having written more than twenty-five action screenplays, including Kiss the Girls, starring Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd; Walking Tall, starring The Rock; and Desperate Measures, starring Michael Keaton and Andy Garcia.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

who I am not

You don't know me.

Just for example, you think I'm upstairs in my room doing my homework. Wrong. I'm not in my room. I'm not doing my homework. And even if I were up in my room I wouldn't be doing my homework, so you'd still be wrong. And it's really not my room. It's your room because it's in your house. I just happen to live there right now. And it's really not my homework, because my math teacher, Mrs. Moonface, assigned it and she's going to check it, so it's her homework.

Her name's not Mrs. Moonface, by the way. It's really Mrs. Garlic Breath. No it's not. It's really Mrs. Gabriel, but I just call her Mrs. Garlic Breath, except for the times when I call her Mrs. Moonface.

Confused? Deal with it.

You don't know me at all. You don't know the first thing about me. You don't know where I'm writing this from. You don't know what I look like. You have no power over me.

What do you think I look like? Skinny? Freckles? Wire-rimmed glasses over brown eyes? No, I don't think so. Better look again. Deeper. It's like a kaleidoscope, isn't it? One minute I'm short, the next minute tall, one minute I'm geeky, one minute studly, my shape constantly changes, and the only thing that stays constant is my brown eyes. Watching you.

That's right, I'm watching you right now sitting on the couch next to the man who is not my father, pretending to read a book that is not a book, waiting for him to pet you like a dog or stroke you like a cat. Let's be real, the man who is not my father isn't a very nice man. Not just because he is not my father but because he hits me when you're not around, and hesays if I tell you about it he'll really take care of me.

Those are his words. "I'll really take care of you, John. Don't rat on me or you'll regret it." Nice guy.

But I am telling you now. Can't you hear me? He's petting the top of your head like he would pet a dog, with his right hand, which just happens to be the hand he hits me with. When he hits me he doesn't curl his fingers up into a fist because that would leave a mark. He slaps me with the flat of his hand. WHAP. And now I'm watching him stroke your cheek with those same fingers. He holds me tight with his left hand when he hits me so that I can't run away. And now he's holding you tenderly with his left hand. And I'm telling you this as I watch through the window, but your eyes are closed and you couldn't care less, because he's stroking you the way he would stroke a cat and I bet you're purring.

You don't know me at all.

You think I'm a good student. Hah!

You think I have friends. Hah!

You think I'm happy with this life. Hah, hah!

Okay, now you're putting down the book that is not a book. It's a Reader's Digest condensation of literature, which is like drinking orange juice made from concentrate. It has no pulp. The key vitamins have been processed out. You're pressing your head against his shoulder. I can see your toes move inside your pink socks on the coffee table. What's with this toe movement? Is it passion or athlete's foot? There is some kind of serious itch there.

And now the man who is not my father puts down his book, which is a real book, because he's not a stupid or shallow man, just cruel and self-centered. He kisses you long and full on the lips, and then on the side of your neck. And you glance upstairs, nervously, because you think I'm up in my room doing my homework. You don't know that I'm floating twenty feet above our backyard, watching this display of misplaced affection.

No, I am not levitating. I do not have secret wings that allow me to fly. I am not a vampire. I am not hanging by my heels from the roof or clinging to a drainpipe.

So where am I?

You don't know me at all.

I'll give you this one. I'm in the apple tree, which is not an apple tree. The man who is not my father calls it an apple tree, but it has never produced a single thing resembling an apple. Nor has it produced a pear, so it is not a pear tree. Nor has it produced a pair of apples. Nor has it produced a pineapple, so it is clearly not a pineapple tree. The only thing I have ever seen it produce is thin gray leaves, so I will call it a gray-leaf tree.

That's where I am. Sitting in the gray-leaf tree. There's a full moon out tonight, so if I were a werewolf or a vampire I would be hungry or thirsty for flesh or blood. But I'm full with the gluey spaghetti and golf ball meatballs from dinner. The only effect the moon has on me is to make me think of Mrs. Moonface and my five pages of algebra homework that is really her homework, except that for some reason I'm the one who got stuck with it.

Mrs. Moonface assigns us so much homework because she is miserable and lonely. I wrote a poem to her. It's not a very good poem, but I don't really care. The first stanza goes like this:

Mrs. Moonface, get a life,

Get a nose ring, fly a kite,

Find a boyfriend, learn to ski,

Just stop taking it out on me.

The man who is not my father is switching off the lamp. Now our house is dark except for the light in my room, which is really not a room, where I am not doing homework.

Except that I am actually up there doing homework after all! Did you really think that I was up in the branches of an apple tree? Not necessary. You don't have to see things to know that they are happening. Anyway, I don't like climbing trees. It's a cold fall night. The wind is howling around our house like a live animal.

I finish the last algebra problem. Put down my pencil.

Downstairs I can hear the springs of the couch creaking. The man who is not my father is repeating your name, with passion in his voice. But it's not really your name, even though it belongs to you. It's really the name of his pretty first wife, Mona, who died in a car accident five years before he met you and decided to move into your house, and take on the duties of disciplining your son.

And now he is repeating your name and thinking of Mona.

And you are listening to him and thinking of my father.

And I am not in this house at all. I am in the middle of a hurricane. Thunder is cymbal-crashing above and beneath me. Lightning makes my hair stand up. Winds are spinning me like a top. Do you really think I will come down to breakfast tomorrow and call the man who is not my father sir? Do you think I will go to school tomorrow and hand in my homework to Mrs. Moonface? I won't even be in this hemisphere tomorrow. This storm could set me down anywhere.

You don't know where I'll end up.

The good news is that you may have created my past and screwed up my present but you have no control over my future.

You don't know me at all...

You Don't Know Me. Copyright © by David Klass. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Table of Contents


1 Who I Am not,
2 Anti-School,
3 Band Practice,
4 Get Me Out of Here,
5 Losing by a Snout,
6 Dinner Theater,
7 Torture Island,
8 Permit me a Father Fantasy,
9 The Happiest Day of My Life,
10 The Best day of My Life Gets Better,
11 In the War Zone,
12 The Bonanza Ranch House,
13 My Big Date,
14 The Worst Thing that Could Happen,
15 A Short Haul,
16 Trump Card,
17 Running away from Home,
18 Fateful Tuesday Begins,
19 Fateful Tuesday Picks up Steam,
20 Fateful Tuesday Reaches a Crescendo,
21 The High Command,
22 Floating,
23 No-view Alley,
24 The Holiday Dance,
25 Gotcha,
26 Who I am,
Epilogue, Whatever that means,

Customer Reviews

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You Don't Know Me 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 271 reviews.
IDontLoveYouXl3 More than 1 year ago
i saw this book at the store and just the cover made me go "i need this book" i read the first 2 pages and was stunned.i was 13 when i got the book i'm about to be 16 now and i still love this book..i let one of my classmates read it and he too fell in love with the book and made me buy him a copy of it! my mom and uncle love this book too. It's an amazing book seriously. no one can say it's a horrible book if they don't read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I can't even explain how much I love this book. If you don't read it, you are missing out. That's all I can say.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I ADORE this book !! I think that john's mind is sooo fasinating, the writting is definatly original, I'm 13 and I recommend this book to parents and teens.
XxLOVEePiiNKxX More than 1 year ago
This book is soo good. I was just in Barnes N Nobles in the teen section (and I usually don't read teen books, more urban fiction if anything) when I came across this book. I was captivated by the cover because I have never seen a book cover like that before. When I read the cover I was like WOAH, and then I read about 20 pages into the book and I said I have to have it. I finished it by the next day, it's one of those books that you can't put down, and if you do you just pick it back up again. I love the way David Klass writes, it's funny, and silly, and I think that's what made the book so good. I would definitely recommend this to a friend, teen, or anyone that is going through or went through what the main character has been through. Buy it, read it, because it's worth it, and you won't be disappointed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I don't think the professional reviews were that good. Here is my review(i will try to make it short): John is a 14 year old boy abuised by the man his mother has chosen to love. John's story mainly takes place at his home that is not a home(explains in book) and anti-math(also explains in book) class and music class which is for a extra mandatory activity. He tells about his 'friends', and girls. John directs his story as if telling it to his mother(that will help you when you read it). Be willing to forget what he may have just said as it was only his imagination in some parts. I think you should read this as it is not a fast read but one you should be willing to re-read a paragraph to better understand it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I saw this IN MY SCHOOL LIBRARY, I thought... I gotta read this :) It looked absolutely ahhmazing. The writing was so well done, and so descriptive and I really learned who the main character was. I even got my brother into it. I say read this book :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is so interesting and all i had to do was read the first 2 pages of the book and i was hooked because all of it is soooo true. I can relate to alot of the things he says in the book.(btw he is writing to his mom in the story.)this book is great you should really invest in it. This is my personal opinion so dont come back and say that i shouldnt have given this book 5 stars.i liked it ant im sorry if you didnt.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wanna read again!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This wonderful story almost made me cry and laugh at the same time
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing i read it in two days
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! I read in 8th grade for a project and I loved it. It was interesting, creepy, and funny. I would read it again
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The main charactar deals with his difficult life in such a couragous and humorous way. You find yourself cheering for him and crying for him throughout the story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book really relates to me except i play the clarinet not tuba, i'm girl not a boy, and my stepdad dosent hurt me and my brother much any more......... my stepfather is very mean and just because my brother just had surgery dosent me i cant have dome alone time with my self! Ok back to the book.....even thought David Klass is such a great writer this book is very confusing so if you are some one who gets too confused too easily than STAY AWAY!!!!! So this is very touching and you cant help but feel like you have too help John any way you can!!!!!!! When you read you will fall in love with John and feel a deep hatred for the step father!!!! When i say 'fall in love with John' fall in love with his character. Almost every one at Cedar Creek Middle School ( my school ) loves it!!! I reconmend it to ages 10 and up!! - Sarah Booth :);)
lugeram on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The book was written in a cool way. It was interesting how the boy changed throughout the book.
brie13028 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
very confusing but very good
kissmeimgone on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book tells a heart felt story of a 14 year old boy trying to find his place in the world. A story that most can relate to in some way, I defintley recommend this book.
pearsonni on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book. It was a really interesting perspective that was told by John. As the book progressed, I liked how you slowly started to see him open up, almost like you became a silent friend. Overall, great book.
Saieeda on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a very good book told from the perspective of a high school boy. It is told in stream-of-consciousness which really allows the reader to get into the character's head. Of course, this means that everything he tells you is biased by his own beliefs which is what makes this story so very interesting; we have no idea what anyone else is thinking, and we don' t know for sure if what he reveals about other characters is true. This adds an extra element to the story that may not be realized until you are deep within the tale. The writing style is beautiful and clever. The author seems to really understand high-school students and the issues, common and extreme, in their lives. The reader is able to follow the main character as he struggles with mall cops, friends (both close and traitorous), girls (and the ever included to sex or to sex question), angry fathers and step-fathers, distant mothers, school dances, difficult academics, and even abuse and crime. This is not to be confused with superficial nonsense novels, though. This book tackles real issues, and the ending is uplifting as well as filled with important lessons. I would highly recommend this book to every YA entering 9th and 10th grade as well as everyone else!
dr8688 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. I work with kids myself and sometimes the ones that crack jokes all the time are the ones that are the ones that are hurting the most. Sometimes this book was hard to read because it was so real and sometimes it was laugh out loud funny. It is a must read for anyone who works with or around kids. Really good book.
80tnt08 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
John, 14, describes his life, filled with the usual teen miseries: he has a crush on a manipulative, selfish girl, he doesn't understand algebra, he has no good friends, and he is alienated both at school and at home. But he also has a more serious problem: his mother's live-in boyfriend, referred to only as "the man who is not my father," beats him regularly, and may be involved in criminal activities. Meanwhile John has a more disastrous than usual date with the girl of his dreams, his "friend who is not a friend" is arrested for shoplifting, and he is given a tuba solo in the school band. But then his mother has to leave town to deal with a dying relative, and John is left alone with her abusive boyfriend.pretty good......
baachan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Klass' novel tells the story of John, a junior high boy with an abusive almost-stepfather who does honorably battle with academics, the cliquish social scene in his school, and his home life. The book is written all in present tense, for example, "I surmise that I am in deep trouble because Mr. Steenwilly keeps looking at me(84)". The entire book is written is this present-tense, understated monotone. It works exceeding well with John's monologues. Wonderful, in fact. But it doesn't work as well with dialogue--though I'm completely convinced that I'm inside John's head with his dry comments and sarcasm when he narrates, when any of the other characters speak, it feels wooden. Hence, the 4-star rating. This is a great book for teens who feel misunderstood, or who have issues with trusting parental or authority figures. I think that the narrative style is inventive and could provide a point of departure for discussions about the craft of writing. A high school creative writing course would be a good place to read this book. Recommended for purchase for all collections--junior high and high school school libraries, as well as public library teen collections. There is no adult language, though some of the themes in the book wouldn't be appropriate for a tween audience.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Maybe teens would like this book, but I Found it relentlessly repitious and strange. The. Boy had a sorrowful life and the book was very depressing. I don't recommend it it at all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I didn't really know what to expect from this book. Many people have told me it was good and it wasn't was AMAZING. It does get a little confusing at times and you may have to read the paragraph again but it is definitely worth it!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book years ago but I really liked it.