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Charm & Strange - Stephanie Kuehn It’s plain to him what he is and what he’s going to be. It’s in knowing these things that he’s basically isolated himself, pushed everyone and everything away. And though you may think another loner type, who’s dark and brooding, there’s so much more to him. He is the very definition of broken. And it’s in being broken that my heart in turn broke. The story switches from his present loneliness to a past that’s lonely but not quite. The past held hope and safety almost with his brother, with his accomplishments and abilities. But even in the past, there are dark moments of him doing some incomprehensible things. Indeed, a lot of the things that happen to him and because of his doing feel incomprehensible. Yet, despite that I was gripped by the choice of words, the imagery that’s conjured of a boy and his memories (some happy, a lot dark) and that same boy turned young man waiting for the inevitable to come to pass. His truths, or what he thought to be his truths, felt out of this world a little bit magical even (but again the dark type of magic) had me enthralled and simply waiting on perhaps things not just being his truth. The writing is so utterly convincing… even when what’s said shouldn’t be. My heart broke for the guy even when I couldn’t quite grasp what it was he wanted to tell. The shifting form his present to his past, building up toward that reveal and knowing that more than one thing wasn’t right. The things that happen to him and his, as well as the things that happen by his own doing painted a picture of a kid who’s broken. And it’s broken he is, but why’s the question. Then there’s his lack of belief in himself, or more likely his absolute belief that nothing good is in him and the actions on his part that seem to prove that fact but only point to the opposite, that there’s got to be something more to him especially when considering how he could be with those that mattered. His link to his brother then to his sister all mentioned in past tense, made it clear that tragedy was to be told. But then him and his friend/not friends with their even more complicated push-push-pull between them? He isn’t just the bad guy he expects himself to be. Yet there’s how he wants expects certain things to happen, waiting for that inevitable moment when he will become what he doesn’t want.On the basis of all of that, there’s how we find the WHY. Getting to it is slow and even a bit confusing (all over the place really, jumping from past, to present, to the even more confusing place that was his mind), but when his truths are laid out: it’s a slap to the face because despite knowing that there had to be something, I was ill-prepared for his truths. And that broke my heart even more. But that ending, has it clear that there’s some sort of hope for him and them yet,“The story that was too big for me to tell, the one that grew to fill the depths of my being and the far corners of my mind. It’s how I lost my system of meaning… but I haven’t lost everything. Somewhere, somehow, a drift in the sea and far form the stars, I’ve found faith,In myself,And that makes all the difference.”THANK YOU, NETGALLEY!