I think that I would've loved this book if I hadn't read it right after reading We Were Liars, which blew me away. It was too similar: introspective, very damaged young character, wealthy/middle class dysfunctional family, dark, devastating secret.
No one really knows who Andrew Winston Winters is. 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.
Something near the school has killed a young man in the woods. This book hovers on the edge of paranormal. It kept me guessing about Win's reality. This is another book that should not be spoiled, not because it is a thriller or is intended to be suspenseful, but because the reveal is important and takes place in it's own time and space.
I know he wants me to stay and talk because that’s what we did last year. We talked. Not about [removed to avoid spoiler]. Those are the things I never talk about. No, we talked about matter—most notably quarks, those tiniest possible components of everything. They come in six flavors, you know: up, down, top, bottom, charm, and strange.
The writing is outstanding, and I will definitely read more by Stephanie Kuehn. Her next book, Complicit, looks fantastic.
This book qualifies as Vermont for my USA by the Book challenge.