Title: Charm & Strange Author: Stephanie Kuehn Publication Date: June 11th 2013 Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin Goodreads Summary: 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.
I always wished I could crank out an awesome review in a snap but it always seems to take me forever. I usually have a hundred thoughts I have to sift through and find it very difficult to mention everything I want to. Then I have no idea exactly what I do want to say. That being said reviews never come easy to me but telling you all what I thought about Charm & Strange seems almost impossible. I feel unless you read it Charm & Strange is extremely hard to talk about it. I definitely do not want to give any spoilers so I am going to do my best to describe my highs and lows with this book the best I can.
What I can tell you is that Stephanie Kuehn did a great job. Charm & Strange was nothing like I thought it would be when I signed up for the tour. I thought it would be a suspenseful and interesting story and it was but x100. Stephanie really knows how to toss your thoughts around and although after a bit I felt I truly knew how it was going to end I still clung to the possibility that it wouldn’t be what I thought.
Win clings to this possibility of a change that may or may not really happen and Stephanie keeps you on the edge of your seat waiting right along with him. He truly is tortured, you just know something is eating at him, and that is obvious from the beginning. What is not clear is what that something is and what exactly Win is really waiting for. You get thrown back and forth between his past and present as you get to know more about him but Stephanie never out and out says much. She keeps things short and vague leaving you grasping to piece things together and I loved that. No matter what you think you know, whether you end up being correct about the outcome or not, you will ask wtf is going on at least once and second guess yourself a time or two.
Stephanie really knows how to keep you on your toes and keep you asking what is really going on? I liked getting to know Win and digging into his past. The writing was good as well as the story. It made me think and got my feelings going. I have to say it did a great job of upsetting me and got some tears rolling. I so wanted to be wrong. The only low I think I had was that although it was a pretty great book and written in such a good way it was not what I thought I would be reading. On one side this put me off a little and felt deceiving but the fact that I liked it made up for all of that. I just feel like this might be a hit or miss for some people. You really just need to read it to understand though. I definitely want to check out what else Stephanie comes out with.
Stephanie Kuehn is a YA writer who grew up in Berkeley, California, which is a quirky sort of a place with a ton of wonderful bookstores. Her very first job was working in one of those bookstores, and she’s been a freakishly avid reader for as long as she can remember.
Stephanie’s other passions include mental health advocacy, social justice, and sports of all kinds. She’s currently living in Northern California with her family and their wild menagerie of pets.