This is a quick post mostly to say that Charm & Strange received a lovely review from the School Library Journal, for which I am very grateful. The review will be in the upcoming issue. It reads:
Gr 8 Up–The dark and twisted heart of this YA novel unfolds slowly, every chapter revealing a hint of the terrible secret that holds Andrew Winston Winters deep in its painful grip. The narrative toggles between the present, as Win, a surly Vermont boarding-school student (chapters titled “matter”), and flashbacks to his past as Drew, the middle child between his sensitive older brother and doting younger sister (chapters titled “antimatter”). Kuehn’s descriptions of the boy’s violent impulses, confusion, and coping strategies are taut and precise. Although it is hard for readers to get a firm hold on his state of mind and character (since there is so much that he is hiding from himself), the other characters, although painted in broad strokes, are fascinating, and readers will be intrigued to find out more about them and how they relate to Andrew and to one another. There’s Lex, Andrew’s best friend turned enemy at boarding school; Keith, Andrew’s protective older brother; and even Andrew’s provocative Boston cousins, who seem to have played a role in the unfolding mystery behind his taciturn veneer. Teens who enjoy their novels with a shovelful of gritty realism will find this enigmatic novel gripping. And the shock of realization at the end, when everything clicks into place, is palpable.–Evelyn Khoo Schwartz, Georgetown Day School, Washington, DC
As for me, I’ve been doing a lot of book-related things. I was in LA last week for a wonderful event at Skylight Books and ended up staying in town for a few days. It was the first time I felt like I understood the layout of the city and I really enjoyed it. I stayed in a little house with German tourists. I ran trails in Griffith Park. I also got to see a dear college friend and reminisce with her about the times when we were young and fearless. A moment came, however, when I realized I’d known about the tragic death of a mutual friend for years, while she had no idea. All this time, she’d been envisioning him as middle aged, married, but still doing his best to raise hell. Her vision is the way it should be, of course, but life can be sad that way. Shoulds don’t always matter. Truth is what matters.
I’m turning forty next month. That is an interesting thing. I am no longer young and I am far from fearless, but I’m here. That matters, too. Sometimes I can still raise a little hell, but these days, that’s mostly when I’m writing.