CHARM AND STRANGE by Stephanie Kuehn

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Andrew has felt dead inside for a long time.  He couldn’t explain exactly why he smashed that kid in the face with a tennis racket when he was nine, and he can’t explain why he would rather be alone in the forest than talking to the new girl at his boarding school.  But something about Jordan draws him out in a way that his other classmates have not.  He finds himself at a party with Jordan and his former roommate, Lex, on the night of the full moon.  Which is a bad idea because he is certain that tonight will be the night that he changes.  He has known it would happen, ever since that summer in New Hampshire when his older brother, Keith, told him that the wolf lived inside all of them.  As he waits for the change, memories of Keith and their sister, Siobhan, intertwine with Jordan and Lex’s attempts to break through his shell.

This book is intense.  Suspenseful, horrifying, and beautifully written.  Did I mention intense?  Kuehn weaves hints of fantasy through the novel, enough to make a reader hope that maybe it is a fantasy.  Maybe the wolf is real.  All the while, the fantasy echoes heighten the horror of the real story and help the reader find herself in the mindset of a traumatized child.  If you like dark realistic fiction, this book is excellent.  But be forewarned:  intense.

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