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Ratings & Reviews for

You Don't Know Me

5 stars
3,199 (35%)
4 stars
2,809 (31%)
3 stars
2,136 (23%)
2 stars
642 (7%)
1 star
255 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 708 reviews
Profile Image for Valerie.
249 reviews74 followers
August 27, 2016
A strange thing happened not too long ago that involved this book. I was browsing around Barnes & Nobles looking for new books to read when a (I'm assuming) teen couple skirted around me, keeping their held hands intact. I didn't give them much more of a thought until the girl picked up this book and asked her boyfriend excitedly, "Have you read this book?" After he told her he hadn't the girl said, "You have to read it. It shows how much douches parents can be." I got no such inclination from this book.

I usually don't like books like this, books that have a raw lesson and it is because the characters just make me depressed. The main character keeps it from being too depressing with his humor, dry as it is. I ended up liking him even though he doesn’t look like he is very brave in the start of the book like I expect the main characters to be. The end is hopeful too.
Profile Image for Nafiza.
Author 6 books1,237 followers
May 13, 2013
I’m taking a YA Lit class this summer and the professor included this book in his suggested reading for old school YA. I went into it not knowing anything about the author or even what genre the book is about. I wanted to be surprised. And I was.

I don’t really know how to accurately articulate how wonderful this book is. As I say about so many other novels, it is not perfect by any means but the writing is so incredible it makes up and then some for the little flaws.

Usually, when I am faced with books dealing with realistic situations such as abuse, broken families and neglectful parents, I don’t feel like reading because the pain does not seem worth the payoff at the end. However, You Don’t Know Me sucks you in from the very first page and it doesn’t stop holding onto you until you have reached the very end. Then it spits you out and you are left wondering which earthquake shook your world and why you’re the only one who felt it.

John has a crappy life. A really crappy life. The way he copes with it is by retreating into himself. His observations are so flippant and that flippancy expresses the utter tragedy of his pain so much more eloquently than melodrama and angst ever could have. His sense of self, his identity, his worth, these all have been fractured so much that it is not that we don’t know him but that he doesn’t know himself. He detaches himself from his life, makes himself into this observer who is watching himself getting beaten, his mom deliberately not paying attention to what’s happening when she’s not around. This book is brilliant. It will, if you give it a chance, make you cry and then make you laugh and then make you cry all over again.

If my effusive praise does not convince you, look at these excerpts from the novel and tell me it does not make the breath catch in your throat.
“The piece you have written for us is called "The Gambol of the Caribou." Now, Mr. Steenwilly, I don't mean to be critical. What I know about music could be squeezed into a peanut shell, and there would still be room for the peanut. But I looked up "gambol" in the dictionary, and it means to "skip or jump about playfully." It also means to "caper or frolic." Caribou are large, ponderous, woolly reindeer. They do not gambol. They do not caper. They do not frolic. And they certainly do not skip. It would be an interesting sight to see a herd of caribou skipping down the tundra, but, Mr. Steenwilly, it would never happen. You could write a piece called "The Caribou Standing Still and Freezing Their Butts Off." Or "The March of the Caribou." Or even "The Stampede of the Caribou." But "The Gambol of the Caribou" is not such a great image to build a piece of music around.” ― David Klass, You Don't Know Me


"Once upon a time there was a boy who had a life that was not a life. He lived in a house that was not a house with a father who was not his father. His friends were not true friends and basically he had nothing at all going for him. On the number line of boys he was a zero, neither positive nor negative, neither whole nor fractional.

Then one day a princess agreed to go to basketball game with him. Fool that he was, he had a fleeting moment of glee. He thought he could become a musician, a scholar, a romantic figure. But something cannot be made out of nothing..."

You Don't Know Me, David Klass
Profile Image for Lisa.
133 reviews3 followers
May 23, 2009
Awful. Rotten. Horrible. Don't bother.

Klass took a good story idea and turned it into something weird. The teacher saves the day, but I didn't really care because I didn't really like John. I felt sorry for him and I wish he wasn't abused, but Klass didn't make me care enough. I spent all my time sifting through the negatives, the double-negatives and the weirdness of it all.

Don't bother. Read a cereal box instead - you'll enjoy it more.
226 reviews44 followers
March 14, 2009
You Don't Know Me is a sometimes humorous, sometimes tragic, sometimes perplexing novel about a teenage boy struggling to deal with his mother's abusive boyfriend, a crush on a girl unworthy of his love and a number of other issues many teenagers could probably relate to or at least understand. The story was littered with some of the most the-glass-is-completely-empty pessimism I've seen in any book in recent memory, but I tried to take it with a grain of salt, seeing how the author probably uses John's innermost thoughts to symbolize the hopelessness that so many teenagers (and some adults, as well) can feel given dire circumstances. At times, however, it just felt like the narration was coming straight from an adult rather than an adolescent.

This book takes some patience and thick skin to read but if you keep an open mind you might appreciate it's purpose. I'm interested to see what some of my students will think about this book. I get the feeling that it might be a book that engages some reluctant readers or perhaps some students with particularly hardened backgrounds. Personally, I see it more as a book with some intrigue that can be fleeting than a book that will capture a reader's attention from start to finish, but the thing about reading is that not everyone is going to interpret books the same and, if anything, You Don't Know Me scores points with the originality in which it is delivered. (344 pages)
Profile Image for Carrie .
985 reviews469 followers
April 9, 2015
Another book that makes you take step back and think, make you realize that you don't really know people. You see them, you see what they project out to the world but whats going on their inner most thoughts, what goes on when no one is looking, what their lives are really like you don't really know

Take for example John, he lives with his mom and her boyfriend, he feels that no one really knows him, his friends who are not really friends, his own mother even. No one knows that this man, who is not his father is cold and mean. No one knows where his real father took off too, or why for that matter he did leaving his mother alone with just a young child to look after.

This book centers around the life of John, his thoughts, and his reality. His home that isn't a home, school that isn't a school, it's anti-school.

I will admit at first I thought I was going to throw the towel in early on this one but as you can see I did not, as it did improve and the writing I got use to it as it was how our main character though. So over all, it was an okay book. One that when I picked it up I had never heard of before,I just found it as I browsed the library shelves.
Profile Image for Gabriela.
29 reviews
November 29, 2008
John you should have told Mr. Steenwilly in the first place and make up a plan to get rid of the man who is not your father. How can you just sit there and absorb the fact that that abusive monster was going to marry your mother. Running away wasn't in fact the best option. Think of your tired mother who's first priority was you all along. But I understand how you felt about not telling her. I understand what would have happened if she did not believe you. I also think you should have told the world about how crazy Gloria was and possibly still is. Maybe that would teach her to stop being a spoiled brat!!!!!
Profile Image for Say Something.
8 reviews1 follower
February 9, 2017
I must start this off by apologizing to anyone who enjoyed this book. I felt very differently about it, but I mean no offense. Oookay, so it sucked. It was literally one of the worst books I've ever had the misfortune to pick up. I may have missed something, some game that the author was playing that I simply didn't understand but truthfully, I wanted to punch John on just about every paragraph.

One of the first problems I had with the book was how young the narrator sounded, he seemed to switch back and forth between a nine year old and a well read adult, which is awkward to have to read. He repeatedly said things, (mostly words I barely have a grasp on myself but not always) and ended the sentence with 'whatever that means'. Ooookay..... I wasn't a fan of that, that the author would describe something and claim to not understand the very words he'd just used.

Another problem I had with this novel is that every few pages it seems there would be something that was in fact something else. His tuba that was not a tuba. His house that was not a house. His closet that was not a closet. I get it okay? It was just over done in my opinion. He also had an odd voice, there was rarely if ever an 'it's on 'don't' it seemed to have a more robotic 'it is' 'do not' type of speaking that made it feel stunted to me.

How many times did John lie? He was always making things up. I don't mind unreliable characters, but I do mind childish games. He was kind of a jerk also, how many times did he mention that billy had a 'Beezer' or that Violet was 'a big girl'?

All in all I can't find too many positives, it was an easy read. Everything ended just about how you'd expect, nothing was too original. But if you have two hours or so to waste and no other options it's better than nothing. An okay book to read if you've just read something extremely challenging and are looking for something that won't require much thought.

Sorry again, I wish I'd liked it. I would much rather write a positive review. Thank you for reading my opinion, have a nice day.
Profile Image for Marianna Baer.
Author 4 books135 followers
June 17, 2007
This had been recommended to me many times, but something about the cover and the first chapter always put me off. I had no idea it was so funny and quirky and genuinely wonderful. I loved John, the protagonist, so much that I thought I might not be able to read it all the way through - I was too nervous about what was going to happen to him. But I did and I loved everything about it.
Profile Image for Amanda Check.
21 reviews4 followers
March 29, 2022
Read it while I was a teen. Incredible memories, maybe too much for my age, but I remember it fondly.
Profile Image for Al.
191 reviews29 followers
June 16, 2009
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. [return:][return:]I would highly recommend this book to every YA entering 9th and 10th grade as well as everyone else!
5 reviews
December 14, 2017
This book "you don't know me" is about a troubled middle schooler named John who has many issues with his friends and some family members at home. His father is abusive towards him if he does not do what he is told to do immediately. His oblivious mother is not aware of the problems they have been dealing with because John will not tell her. This leads to John’s father continuing to push him into multiple situations. This story is directed towards the mom, and it focuses on how she does not notice that John is hurting. With no foreseen solution, John starts fearing his father by choosing to avoid him and not accepting him into his family since he is also not his real father. This allows the father to have authority over everything he does since John feels even more defenseless against him. A main lesson of the book is not letting people take control of you because then they dictate your actions. He has trouble with his relationships at school and at home. He meets a girl named Gloria who knows how he feels about him and uses that to her advantage to use him. David Klass' story is true and inspiring. It teaches us to always listen to ourselves and stop things before they get too far.
Profile Image for Max Ostrovsky.
564 reviews57 followers
January 23, 2018
This was so bad, I don't even think young adult readers will like it. Unfortunately, I've had students who do like it so maybe I'm just not getting it.
The characters were so completely hyperbolic. For the inner thought narrative that could be considered magic realism territory, I accept and even expect the exaggerations of characters. After all, this is from the perspective of a young teen. But everything was so over the top that it went beyond cliche.
We've got the abusive father.
The over-protective father.
The absent father.
The silent mother.
The mean popular girl.
The droning teacher.
The supportive teacher.
The authoritarian school administration.
Each character was taken so far that it was ridiculous.
Then there were:
A rivalry between friends - that the narrative doesn't utilize anywhere near as much as it should've.
The discovered talents.
A crush/admirer who comes to the rescue. And why? What does she see in the main character? Once, and only once, she saw him actually play his tuba well.
A ridiculous underground escape from an over-protective father.
A heist transport with the abusive father.
And then there was my biggest pet peeve about this book - the diction. Often, the inner thought narrator will use higher vocabulary than typical, it is used correctly, and every time he does that, he will say: "...whatever that means."
Whatever that means? Really? The book doesn't establish the main character as someone who would know these words, much less use them correctly. Then the repeating "whatever that means" is supposed to be taken as what, irony? I can MAYBE buy it if instead of inner thoughts, the book was of a boy journaling of his experiences. But no. Inner thoughts.
There was, however, one moment that I thought was well done, cliched, but well done. About 40-50 pages into the book, the narrator makes a comparison of a wedding photo of his mother and his mother as she is, all while speaking to her through an inner thought dialogue.
But that's it. There wasn't anything even redeeming about the ending. Ridiculous as the rest.
Profile Image for Kierstin Coram.
160 reviews2 followers
July 27, 2021
When I first sat down to read this book, I was expecting a novel that was about this kid just like any other searching to be heard - overly dramatic and full of angst. I mean, just look at the front cover -- and the title! After reading past the first chapter, I realized that I was fairly wrong. The main character, a teenage boy who is constantly (and rather harshly) abused by his evil, wicked, nasty, soon-to-be step dad is quite the guy. He has a unique imagination and a dark yet entertaining humor, which made it more bearable to read. It was a moving and tragic story finding insight into the meaning of self-perception and love. It made me better appreciate the wonderful and loving family that I myself have. I feel that this type of horrible treatment occurs much more often than we think to the children around us, and we must listen and be attentive to any indicators that may point to any signs of maltreatment.

The story does include a lot of repeated phrases, though, which quickly became dull and irritating. If you can stomach the child abuse (thankfully it's not too descriptive) and a few suggestive scenes, then you're golden.

Overall, it was pretty good.
March 12, 2010
This book was very funny and interesting for me. You will learn alot form these book it will teach you alot about life lessons. Although, this book was sometimes very funny it was also very sad at parts. During the book, John's step dad beats him every day for no reason. He just doesn't care what he feels. The book informs you with the teenage life and you can also connect with it. Furthermore, John who is the main character in the book is scared to give his crush a love note.One of my favorite parts of the book was when John gave his crush a love note and she ate it. When she ate it she had asked her why she ate it and she said because she was hungry. I strongly recommend this book, to anyone it is a very good book and it will grab your attention it is also very funny.
Profile Image for Angela.
778 reviews19 followers
January 19, 2013
John is a regular high school freshman. He doesn’t get algebra, he is terrible in band, he has a crush on the cute girl, and he can never seem to get his locker to open on the first try. But at home, things are different. His mother works double shifts at the factory and her boyfriend is an abusive alcoholic who beats John when she’s not around. Carrying this terrible secret, John can look at anyone in his life and realize that no one knows him. So he sets out to try to know himself by creating an elaborate new world in his own mind.
• Mild language
• Told in first person through John’s thoughts
• Excellent example of an author’s use of voice
• Abuse is an issue that the author does not shy away from; he hits it head-on and discusses it in a frank and candid manner.
Profile Image for ida.
585 reviews42 followers
April 14, 2017
This was an okay book, probably aimed towards younger readers. It wasn't life changing but I can definitely see this book being read in high schools.

I did have some problems with this book though, mainly girls hating on girls and casual sexism/overprotective fathers but hey, this is an American book so I guess I should have seen this coming.
Profile Image for LaTanya.
9 reviews2 followers
June 21, 2018
I stopped at chapter 14 and switched books.
Profile Image for Becca Akins.
1,017 reviews61 followers
January 8, 2019
Trigger Warning: Child abuse, Mental health: the specific disorder is not mentioned therefore I do not feel comfortable labeling it but their are definitely aspects of some sort mental illness in this novel.

This book is told in a unique way. John is the narrator and describes the events as if he was talking with his mother whom he repeatedly tells, “you don’t know me.” John’s character while not Explicitly stated John seems to have some sort of struggle with dissociative disorder. We spent a lot of time in his head and discover that He looks at what’s happening around him from a very distant and unattached perspective.

This form of storytelling made the reading experience and very unique. John is constantly comparing things in real life to imagined things. He refers to his tuba as a bullfrog. He refers to his mom’s boyfriend as “the man who is not my father.” He gives his teachers and his friends different names that he calls them in his head. Whenever there’s a way for him to escape reality he takes full advantage of doing that.

This book surprised me. I had no clue going into this book the topics of a deal with the child abuse and what it’s like for a 14-year-old boy who feels like now outside or in every aspect of his life to go through the abuse at home and experience life in the way that he does. I found this book very moving and I am so glad that I finally picked it up after sitting on my shelf for so long. I don’t think this book would be for everyone the writing style is very different but but for me it was the perfect writing style for this story.
November 16, 2017
You Don't Know Me by David Class is an incredibly funny and somewhat sad book about a boy named John living in an abusive household. His father left when he was a child, his mother works long hours and is more shell of a person than she is a mother. Her boyfriend constantly abuses John when she is not around. The boyfriend who John calls "The Man Who Is Not My Father" threatens to hurt John's mother if he tells her what is happening. Meanwhile John struggles through problems at school in love, friendship, Band, and Algebra, he takes you through it all. In a school that is not a school and a home that is not a home, we see his life, through his best and worst days. Using the phrase "You don't know me" as a motif in this book, brought up constantly to express John's feelings as an outcast. I absolutely loved it, I was crying by the end of the book, 10/10 I would recommend to people who like underdog/outcast stories but I think everyone would love this book.
3 reviews
December 11, 2017
When I started this book, I wasn't sure how I would like it once i started reading it but it is definitely one of those books that you just cant stop once you start because you absolutely need to find out whats going to happen. I did get frustrated with how the main character thinks and the way he words everything, but it also showed me that there are people who are like that or have lives like that and are really drained out, physically, mentally, and emotionally because of it. I was very sad to get to the end of the book because there were some sad situations but it had a great ending and made me very happy and excited!
November 15, 2018
I aboslutely loved this book. It was recommended to me by a friend and at first, I thought it was really slow but it was totally worth the wait. David Klass added real life situations into his story which made this so interesting and so truthful. It literally brought tears to my eyes, especially at the end.
1 review
May 5, 2017
The book was about a boy who did not trust many people because of the problems he had, like his mother not being with him a lot, his father leaving him and his moms abusive boyfriend. He feels alone and in his mind he looks at everything as fake, not real. The main message is that you are not alone, and the main character find out that he was the one that was wrong and that his mom would never leave him, he is not alone.
Profile Image for Nicole.
44 reviews
April 18, 2011
In the beginning when I started reading, I couldn't stand this book. Not at all. But then I kept reading and the pages kept flipping. The truth is, I couldn't STOP reading.

All of the sudden I connected with the book so much. I felt like I knew the character and what he was going through in his point of view, like I felt the pain and desire he was feeling at the time. And when I think about it closely, I kind of did feel the way he was feeling. Literally.

It brought back memories of problems that I hadn't yet fixed, and it fixed them for me. This book got me thinking about how in the beginning I felt like the main character, John, acted like he was in elementary school or something, even when in reality he was in High School, in ninth grade. I didn't like him very much because I (to be honest) felt like he was a dork or something.

I remember how people used to tell me "Don't judge a book by its cover." Well, when I picked this book up and judged it by how the character John talked, I was doing exactly that, I was judging when I didn't even know him (hence the title of the book itself).

The book taught me that, no, you don't really know someone until you get to know them, until you understand their deepest thoughts and question their feelings, then question the way YOU feel about THEM.

So yeah, I guess you could say that no matter what, you should not judge a person by how they look or how they talk or anything on the outside. I know it's cheesy, but its the truth; what counts is what's on the inside. How that person feels, what they think, who they are. And whoever is inside of them could be someone great. It could be someone who makes you laugh, or smile, or just irrevocably happy.

So don't think you know someone just by looking at them.

Because you don't.
Profile Image for Mel A Ninny.
287 reviews21 followers
November 7, 2022
Another re-read of an old nostalgic favorite that is surely being lost to time, which is unfortunate. I always think I will have outgrown this book; the angst and the voice, maybe finding it maudlin. But no, every time I re-read this one I think it's a perfect example of a contemporary YA book geared toward a slightly younger audience than current popular YA. That sort of in-between age.


I first read this book when I was 14 myself, so part of my love for it is nostalgia. When I got it at that age, I remember being pulled in just by the text on the cover. I recently re-read it and I don't like it any less than I did 10 years ago. It's one of my favorite ever coming-of-age tales.

John has a unique voice. I can understand why people don't like it, but I fell in love with him immediately. He deals with the dire situations around him (an absent mother, an abusive live-in boyfriend of hers, and school struggles) with an imagination and dry sense of humor that makes the book at once funny and believable. There are lines that still make me laugh out loud.

It's possible that going into this novel as an adult may not lead a person to love it the way I do. My copy is one of the most abused in my collection--water stained, torn, and wrinkled--because I read it so many times over the past decade. It's an easy read, and worthwhile.

Just a note, after reading this one I tried some of Klass' other works. They're also good, but none of them have the unique voice and powerful story that You Don't Know Me does.
40 reviews
January 18, 2009
The very first page caught my eye. The author, David Klass wrote in first person narration where John, the protagonist talked to the audience. The way the author wrote made me see what type of person John was and made me more attached to the story. John has an abusive father, who he calls "not my father" and he is friends with this bully and a nerd. He has a crush on this girl name Glory Halleluja. He takes her out on a date, but he is very insecure throughout the book about himself. This book is about JOhn finding his own identity. He always thinks that he cannot do things like play the tuba. He is in the band and he thinks that he plays very horribly, and he thinks he will fail when his teacher gives him a solo piece. However, he does his solo flawlessly. I like that John finds himself because I think thats what all of us-teenagers are trying to do. JOhn and his mother's boyfriend start fighting and John ends up at the bottom of the pond. He ends up in the hospital and his mother finds out that he has been getting abused by her boyfriend. In the end, John realizes his mother knows who he is, and he knows who he is and that's all that seems to matter. I would recommend this book to my classmates.
25 reviews
June 6, 2010
John, 14, describes his life, filled with the usual teen miseries: he has a crush on a manipulative, selfish girl, he doesn't get algebra, he has no good friends, and he's ignored at home and school. But he has a bigger problem is that his mom's boyfriend regularly abuses him and John won't speak up for himself. His mother has to leave town to deal with a dying relative, and John is left alone with her abusive boyfriend.

I greatly appreciate this book for its outstanding teen voice. You can feel all of the different emotions John has to go through. His descriptions of each moment are so creative and at times I had to put the book down. Some of the scenes are laugh-out-loud funny as well because as a teen you realize some of the things you do yourself. By the end you are so moved by the deep messages that come out through the voice of John. I highly recommend this book to people who love dramas.
Profile Image for Scottsdale Public Library.
3,280 reviews265 followers
January 31, 2017
This is my absolute favorite David Klass novel, a story about a boy named John (told in his first person view) who you certainly don’t know. John has an awful life with his mother and the abusive man “who is not his father.” He survives his home and school life through his wit and sarcasm; one such solace is creating nicknames for his most memorable teachers and classmates including: Mrs. Moonface, Violent Hayes, and Gloria Hallelujah – you’ll have to read the book to learn the meaning behind them. But, just as John declares nobody knows him, we begin to see as the story unfolds that John equally doesn’t know as much as he thinks about the people around him, either. A funny, witty, wrenching story about abuse, growing up, and learning that all people don’t really “know” each other until they truly open up towards one another. –Hannah V.

Check it out! Scottsdale Public Library
Profile Image for Alana.
28 reviews3 followers
March 28, 2008
I don't know what I loved about this book, I just loved it. It took me a little while to get used to John's way of thinking - for example his 'house that was not a house' or his 'tuba that was not a tuba but was in fact a frog pretending to be a tuba.' That definately threw me off at first, but I got used to it. John's life may have sucked, but it wasn't like a lot of stories that I've read where the person's life is truly unbearable. (example - their parents were murdered by some mass murderer who kidnapped their siblings and is out to kill them by killing anyone who is close to them now - way too much pity there) But yes, his life was really crappy, but you didn't need to release a huge amount of pity because of situations like I've stated in the parenthesis above. All in all, I thought this book was really good.
2 reviews65 followers
December 17, 2014
Initially I was very skeptical about this book. I had picked it up last year off of my English teacher's shelf, and absentmindedly tossed it in the back of my locker. When I finally re-discovered the book, I sat down to read it and was captivated immediately. The writing style and narrator was unique and a bit cynical, which added to the atmosphere. I could go on a long while about the plot, the only complaint I have about the plot is that when Mr. Steinwilly saved the day, I was shocked. I didn't not mind the minor twist in the plot, however it seemed unrealistic. I gave this to a friend to read months ago, and she recently informed me that, yes, she had finished it months ago, but I was not getting it back. It is a book worth stealing from your friend's reading shelf.
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