Book Review: Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn

June 7, 2013 Young Adult Book Reviews 2

charmTitle: Charm & Strange [Goodreads][Amazon]
Author: Stephanie Kuehn
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Format: eARC
Pages: 224
Release Date: June 11, 2013
In My Opinion: Don’t even touch it!
One Line: All kinds of confusing, abstract, and vague; I felt totally disconnected from the characters & story in general.

About the Book: 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.

OMG! I haven’t felt this way about a book since Imaginary Girls or The Glimpse, and even those were better than this! At least I had some clue what the hell was going on. I get that the author was trying to be abstract, poetic, or artistic, but I’ve come to realize that those books are just not for me. From the first page until the very last, this book will have you fighting for your sanity. I didn’t care or connect with any of the characters, the plot was all over the place, and figuring out what the point of this book was is like digging for water in the desert. Granted, the last page finally gives you resolution about what the hell is going on, but even that was pretty vague and made you do a double take, like “Wait, what?!……Oh, ok.” And seriously?! For me to wait until the very last page to to actually get what the author was trying to convey?! No, thanks!

The book goes back and forth between this one night where Andrew is at a party with his friends and Andrew’s past. He battles and comes to terms with the terrible things that happened in his family and you VERY slowly learn what happened to him and his siblings. Let me tell you, this book seriously fucks with your mind. You got people doing things that are seriously disturbing, and you’re wondering where the hell these people are actually from. I mean, really, Andrew’s family is really fucked up. This was seriously a struggle for me to finish.

Maybe this is the book for those who like to really think about things, like seriously pull their hair out about it. Yes, I get the idea that some authors want to be all artistic and symobolic, especially if you’re trying to discuss a touchy subject, but there has got to be a limit. There’s only so much I can take before I want to throw a book out the window and wish a truck would run it over. It kind of reminds me of those serious movies that the critics always love and that win a ton of awards, but then I watch it and I’m like, “Ugh, seriously?! I need to watch like a RomCom or something.” I guess I’m just not a “serious” kind of person. I may be in the minority, but I can’t help it if I like to know where a book is going, what the hell I’m reading, and actually liking the characters in the book.

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2 Responses to “Book Review: Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn”

  1. Amy @ Book Loving Mom

    It’s so funny how different people are rating this. It seems like it’s an either love it or hate it one! I have this and am really excited to read it because I love a good mind f***. If it gets too confusing then I will have problems with it, but I like books that make you really think about things. It’s too bad that it didn’t work for you. Great honest review!
    Amy @ Book Loving Mom recently posted…Review: Dire Warnings (In Darkness We Must Abide #6) by Rhiannon FraterMy Profile

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