Charm & Strange | Book Review


 Genre: Ya, Contemporary, Mystery

“I am of the sea. I am of instability. I am of harsh, choppy waves roiling with all the up-ness, down-ness, top-ness, bottom-ness contained within my being. I am of charm and strange. Annihilation. Creation. Annihilation.” 

-Stephanie Kuehn, Charm & Strange

When you’ve been kept caged in the dark, it’s impossible to see the forest for the trees. It’s impossible to see anything, really. Not without bars . . .

Andrew Winston Winters is at war with himself.

He’s part Win, the lonely teenager exiled to a remote Vermont boarding school in the wake of a family tragedy. The guy who shuts all his classmates out, no matter the cost.

He’s part Drew, the angry young boy with violent impulses that control him. The boy who spent a fateful, long-ago summer with his brother and teenage cousins, only to endure a secret so monstrous it led three children to do the unthinkable.

Over the course of one night, while stuck at a party deep in the New England woods, Andrew battles both the pain of his past and the isolation of his present.

Before the sun rises, he’ll either surrender his sanity to the wild darkness inside his mind or make peace with the most elemental of truths—that choosing to live can mean so much more than not dying.[Goodreads]

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Strange. Baffling. Mysterious. Unique. Unexpected.

When I think of this book these are the words that come to mind. I have to also preface this review by saying that to read this book i believe you need to have great patience and be able to continue reading although for a majority of the book you are completely confused and left in the dark in regards to just about everything.I will say though that there are parts that you are just as bewildered as the main character, Drew/Win. Although this is a semi short book, I personally felt like it took me a long time to read it all the way through. I kept getting frustrated and anxious, but by the end I was completely captivated, and in awe at the overall story and the deep feelings and meanings evoked by the story of “Win”.

The book is full of mystery, secrets and twist that lead you to question what you thought was happening and what the outcome would be. It is told alternating between the past and present creating more confusion as you slowly learn parts of secrets that are all brought together towards the end and ties up all loose ends for the most part. The way this story was written was extremely unique, complex and intriguing and though I did have fits of frustration and anger, I could not manage to put it down because I needed to know what happened and what was going on.  There were also so many thoughtful and beautifully strung together sentences that were full of wisdom and made you think about life.

I don’t want to really say much else because spoilers, but this was a wonderful debut novel by Stephanie Kuehn. If it doesn’t sound like it I will state it more clearly, I truly did enjoy this novel in retrospect, I think the anger clouded my thoughts during the read because I was impatient and just wanted to know what was going on, but the complex and unexpected ending makes it all worth the read. It is definitely one of those books that I feel like people either hate or love, but I believe it is one to give a chance to, especially if you love being stumped and having no clue where the story will go.

Sorry if this is all over the place I had a hard time gathering my thoughts and making coherent sentences.



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