|Charm & strange|
Author: Kuehn, Stephanie
A lonely teenager exiled to a remote Vermont boarding school in the wake of a family tragedy must either surrender his sanity to the wild wolves inside his mind or learn that surviving means more than not dying.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: UG
Reading Level: 4.10
Points: 7.0 Quiz: 164372
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 9-12
Reading Level: 4.30
Points: 14.0 Quiz: 64614
Common Core Standards
Grade 8 → Reading → RL Literature → 8.RL Key Ideas & Details
Grade 8 → Reading → RL Literature → 8.RL Craft & Structure
Grade 8 → Reading → RL Literature → 8.RL Range of Reading & Level of Text Complexity
Grade 8 → Reading → CCR College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Reading
Kirkus Reviews (05/15/13)
School Library Journal (00/10/13)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (A) (00/09/13)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 06/01/2013 Debut author Kuehn comes out swinging with this confident, unnerving look at a damaged teen struggling with something violent inside of him. The book alternates two time frames. In the first, 16-year-old Win is a withdrawn boarding school student tortured by the “eviscerated,” “partly consumed” body of a townie in the woods just off-campus. The second story line follows Win as an anxious 10-year-old first dealing with the suffocating feral feelings that tell him he is harboring a beast. “My wolf is in me,” he says, and readers will turn each page warily, expecting a grisly transformation scene. But Kuehn is up to something far more ambitious here. Her prose butts up against important events time and again without granting us an unobstructed view. Until the end, that is, which is more shattering than most readers will be prepared for. Though there is some running in place due to the alternating time lines, Kuehn absolutely nails the voice and keeps us on constant edge regarding exactly what genre of book it is that we’re reading. - Copyright 2013 Booklist.
Bulletin for the Center... - 09/01/2013 Sixteen-year-old Win, attending a boarding school in Vermont, believes his bouts of violence and inner torment are signs of a family trait: they have inner wolves, creatures into whom they may be able to transform. Flashbacks to his past, however, suggest a different story: young Drew, as he was then known, struggles in a dysfunctional and severe family, where his loyalties lie with his older brother and younger sister, who take their lives in a suicide pact. Distancing himself from the notorious tragedy and living under his middle name, Win is nonetheless unable to escape his past, and he must confront the truth about his father’s sexual abuse, which was the destructive force behind the suicides and the beastly force Win has literalized to a wolfish family nature. Kuen writes powerfully of Win’s torment and rage, and her use of a fantasy trope (reminiscent of Grant’s Uncle Vampire, BCCB 11/93) as a way of conceiving the horror of child sexual abuse is effectively disturbing. Despite the protagonist’s attempts to shut himself down, his narrative affect is intense and Victorianly emotional, steeped in howling fury, squalling resentment, and keening guilt in a way that serves as tribute to the degree of destruction he’s suffered. The book tries to do too much, however, with the quark motif of the title going nowhere, the character of a new girl, Jordan, never developing beyond a superfluous device, and an additional unnecessary horror in the villainy of a cousin. The suicides also lack the taut emotionality of the rest of the book, especially since Drew’s beloved little sister never becomes a dimensional character. Sexual abuse at the hands of family is still an underexplored topic, though, especially for male victims, and this is a creative and dramatic exploration. DS - Copyright 2013 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
School Library Journal - 10/01/2013 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 - Copyright 2013 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.