I have this ability to read a book description and barely remember it five minutes later. Therefore, I went into Charm & Strange expecting a character study/coming of age story on a young werewolf. When I finally sat down with the book, I was thinking “a supernatural story grounded in reality.” What I got was completely unexpected, but unexpected in a great way! Charm & Strange is one of those stories that will resonate with readers for days. It’s utterly disarming and heart-wrenching, written with prose that is precise with a touch of whimsy.
In Charm & Strange, we meet Win and Drew, the same guy but at different times in his life. Win is a teenager trying to come to terms with an imminent physical change. There’s something inside him that wants to get out. As the full moon nears, Win feels the pull get stronger. He tries to alienate himself from others, keeping focus on athletics but he can’t shake the new girl, Jordan, or a pestering bully/friend Lex.
Drew is a boy dealing with a newfound anger raging inside of him. He dreams of being a tennis star, working hard to perfect his game. His family life is strained. He adores his siblings and doesn’t quite understand his parents and other family members.
Alternating chapters between Win and Drew, past and present for this one individual, allows the story unfold in a twisty and engaging manner. I don’t want to elaborate much on how the story plays out because much of what makes it interesting is how surprising it is. What I can say is that this story will work readers’ minds with its mystery and sneak itself into their hearts.
Kuehn is an excellent writer. With a story as delicate as this one, she balances the tone effortlessly with all its shades of dark. It could’ve felt unoriginal, superficial or boring, but the way it’s planned out leaves the reader wanting to read more, to understand Win/Drew more. There’s an underlying eeriness that followed me as I read it. This book is strange and has charm, which I think makes it so impactful by the end.
I wish I could write a longer review explaining why I love this book and all its mystery and eeriness, but I really want readers to go into not sure of what to expect. I know most are unlike me, who forgets a book description so easily and can go into a book clueless most of the time. So in that case, I urge you to try out Charm & Strange. It’s paced well and short (only 224 pages), which I know for most people are massive points in its favor. Most of all, it’s different. I haven’t read a book quite like this ever. Parts of it are familiar, but Kuehn weaves a tale that feels very new, unique and definitely thought-provoking.
Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn will be available wherever books are sold on June 11, 2013. Support The Young Folks and purchase a copy at our TYF Store, powered by Amazon.
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin (June 11, 2013)
Length: 224 pages (Hardcover)
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction
Completed: May 2013