cover image Charm & Strange

Charm & Strange

Stephanie Kuehn. St. Martin's Griffin, $17.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-250-02194-6

Kuehn's philosophical and emotionally raw debut probes the murky circumstances surrounding a damaged boy's sense of estrangement. Sixteen-year-old Winston has been isolated at a boarding school in Vermont since age 12, and his violent behavior is becoming increasingly difficult for him to control or remember. After a local is killed in the woods, Win suspects himself and worries about who else he'll hurt%E2%80%94and, more importantly, why? While Win has mastered the arts of intimidation, athleticism, and arrogance, he also hurts himself and continues to suffer the loss of two siblings. As the narrative shifts between the present and Win's past reflections on his childhood, he emerges as a complex, deeply conflicted character. A compassionate transfer student urges him to uncover the truth in his past and to finally seek help. The caustic voice, mysteries surrounding Win, and pervasive sense of dread should have readers racing to the end as Kuehn constructs a persuasive portrait of the lasting effects of trauma%E2%80%94namely, the ways it can result in a profound disassociation from reality. Ages 13%E2%80%93up. Agent: Michael Bourret, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. (June)