August 28, 2014

Book Review: Charm & Strange by

Title: Charm & Strange

Author: Stephanie Kuehn

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. 

Sometimes a book touches me so much that I can't let it go. I know immediately it will be a book that will always hold a special place in my heart.  Charm & Strange is one of those books. The thing is, I don't want to say too much because the story really needs to unfold before you so that you can feel its full impact.  And that's what it does - it unfolds before you.  The way it unfolds is beautifully done.  You know something has happened.  You know it wasn't good.  But you don't know what.  Then slowly the events of the past take shape. As they took shape my heart ached for Drew/Win (the main character goes by two different names).  As the story draws to a close it felt so whole and complete.

Now there are somethings you should be prepared for.  There are parts of the story that might confuse you or seem odd.  Win/Drew has some ideas that can come across as odd.  Please stick with the story if you feel that way, because it all become clear and understandable at the end.   And for me - these ideas he had only added to the emotional impact of the story.  It added a level of depth to what Win/Drew is dealing with.

Also be prepared for Win/Drew himself.  He's not always the easiest character to like.  There are times I really didn't like him.  He can be rude and violent and frustrating.  Again - stick with him!

And lastly know that the book goes back and forth from the past to the present.  This was super easy to follow because it's almost every other chapter, but it might help you as you go into the story.

I really wish I could go into things in much more detail, but honestly I'm so afraid it will take away from your experience with the book if I do. That is the last thing I want!

Final thought:  This story will stay with me for a long time to come.


  1. This one sounds really terrific. I do love the title. Thanks for telling me about it. I'll be looking for it.

  2. Okay, I was already wanting to read this book, but your review piqued the intrigue up a notch. And I enjoy alternating past/present books!

    Even though you didn't say too much, you mentioned all the things that would sell it to me-- great review!