book review

Book Review: Charm & Strange by Stephanie Keuhn

Charm & Strange by Stephanie Keuhn
Young Adult | Contemporary | Realistic Fiction
Published by St. Martin’s Press on January 11, 2013
★★

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.

To be frank, I wanted to like this book a lot more than I actually did. I’ve read so many rave reviews on Charm & Strange, therefore I expected something specular and riveting. What I got was extremely confusing and mediocre. Right off the bat, you’re confused. You’re thrown into this story that’s being told by this unreliable narrator who’s a bit on the crazy side, meaning he really doesn’t know what the heck to think, because he may or may not be suicidal.

Honestly, as a reader, you never get any of Win/Drew’s backstory from the actual story until the end or until you draw your own conclusion (that, if judging by the werewolf “callings,” is probably wrong). Before reading the book, I had read the summary once, so I was a bit blind going into the book. At first, I thought Win and Drew were two completely different people. I mean, they lived such different lives! Long story short, by reading the summary you’ve pretty much read the book.

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