BOOK REVIEW: Charm and Strange by Stephanie KuehnCharm and Strange by Stephanie Kuehn
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Synopsis:

Who is Andrew Winston Winters? No one really knows. Least of all himself. He is part Win, a lonely teenager exiled to a remote boarding school in the wake of a family tragedy. The guy who shuts the whole world out, no matter the cost, because his darkest fear is of himself ...of the wolfish predator within. But he's also part Drew, the angry boy with violent impulses that control him. The boy who, one fateful summer, was part of something so terrible it came close to destroying him. A deftly woven, elegant, unnerving psychological thriller about a boy at war with himself. Charm and Strange is a masterful exploration of one of the greatest taboos.


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Wow. This is going to be a hard one to talk about. I mean, how do you explain a book that’s shrouded in mystery? We don’t know what’s real, what’s imagined, what happened…we are completely in the dark until all the pieces slowly start to fit together. Indeed this is a journey that I don’t see everyone loving, but, for me, it was absolute perfection.

There are wants and needs in this world, I think. There are hopes and guarantees. There are the things that are true and the things we need to believe in. And I’ve seen enough in my life to know I don’t believe in much.

Win’s story is utterly devastating. Whether it’s his past or his present-it doesn’t matter-his life is a sad one. We get glimpses of his past as a ten year old child, always craving positive affirmation from those surrounding him. We can already see he is somewhat tainted in the way he sees the world, which, again, is tragic, and we know something isn’t right. And I’m not just talking about the creatures…..

What is there to say when what’s inside of me is unspeakable?

More and more we begin to see his flinching responses and urges to glare and defend, but we aren’t sure why. And no, this isn’t spoilery or giving too much up-we see in the first two chapters that something, whether it’s easy to figure out or not (thanks a lot Goodreads users, for real), I had quite an easy time seeing what was coming. That’s not to say I knew everything, but I guessed the main issue at hand, as I’m sure many of you will, too. But, and I couldn’t say this any more perfectly than my wonderful blog buddy, Anna, did-It doesn’t matter if you’ve seen spoilers galore, Win’s journey stands on it’s own. From the moment you pick up this story, you know it’s going to be special-You just can’t figure out why.

I don’t want to die and I don’t think I can live.

Win was a character that I will likely not forget for a long time. I can’t explain the essence of Win without possibly spoiling the plot, but I can say that, without a doubt, I fell in love with him. His voice was one of a kind. His struggles, his loneliness, his self-deprecation….It was painful. And the whole time I felt his pain along with him. His stomach issues, his longing to belong as a child slowly slipping away as he becomes a teenager no longer wishing to fit in, but to push everyone away. I mean, it’s just so difficult to read…yet you just can’t stop.

How can the same God that created all this beauty have created me?

Like many books lately I am a tad disappointed in my lack of time to read. Reading in twenty minute intervals with my eyes barely staying open hardly bodes well for a shorter story and, like usual, it effected the flow of the story. This has been happening more frequently than I can handle and it’s starting to really aggravate me. I get that life happens, but come on….this was just a short little book and good lord it annoyed me how little I could get done at once. All I can say is that, while the beginning 50% was disjointed for me (as it’s supposed to be as to keep the reader on their toes, but I was even more disjointed with lack of time (See the bigger dilemma here?)), I got to finish the last 50% in one bug chunk and it made all the difference.

From what I can tell, morality is a word. Nothing more. There’re the things people do when others are watching and the things we do when they aren’t.

So, you know, I stand by what I’ve said. This story is wonderful and weird and it lets you go places rarely seen in such a light, but it is certainly not for everyone-not by a long shot. I think that, while this author is clever and unique, she isn’t ever going to be a favorite of mine. I loved this story-I did-but something about her writing makes me side-eye her frequently. And I really do think I’d have rated this 5 if I’d have had the time to enjoy it. But after the monstrosity that is Delicate Monsters and now this one, I think it’s safe to say she isn’t easy to relate to (book wise). Anywho, that being said and slung to the side, I’d love for everyone to give this one a try. Win’s story is unforgettable-you just have to open your mind.

 

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Awwww look how cute the cover issssss….

Said no one ever.

Anna you know me so welllll >.<

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