Book Review: “Charm & Strange” by Stephanie Kuehn

Andrew Winston Winters is….  what is he?  Is he a typical “troubled teen”?  Is he just kind of an asshole?  Is he a loner?  And the fact he has very few friends… is that by choice or circumstance?   The facts are that he has been sent to this boarding school in Vermont, far away from his family in Virginia for a reason.  He also no longer uses his first name.  It was thought best to distance him from his past, his family, and to the things he had done.  But where has that left him?  Because all of the things he is supposed to be shielded away from are rushing to the surface.

This was quite the unusual novel.  It was dark and twisty and has that unreliable narrator element which I love.  For a long time, I couldn’t tell what was real and what wasn’t.  I wasn’t sure which things to pay attention to, and which to discard.  But in the end, it was all real to our main character, and I needed to pay attention to all of it.  There are some horrifying realities in this book, and we see just what kind of damage they can do to a young person.  Even though I could see the truth coming, it is ultimately delivered in such a way that your heart still breaks.  This is a fantastic debut novel.

*****

Charm & Strange

by Stephanie Kuehn

St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013

216 pages

Source:  Purchased

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