Publication Date: June 24, 2014
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 256 (Hardcover)
Two years ago, sixteen-year-old Jamie Henry breathed a sigh of relief when a judge sentenced his older sister to juvenile detention for burning down their neighbor’s fancy horse barn. The whole town did. Because Crazy Cate Henry used to be a nice girl. Until she did a lot of bad things. Like drinking. And stealing. And lying. Like playing weird mind games in the woods with other children. Like making sure she always got her way. Or else.
But today Cate got out. And now she’s coming back for Jamie.
Because more than anything, Cate Henry needs her little brother to know the truth about their past. A truth she’s kept hidden for years. A truth she’s not supposed to tell.
Trust nothing and no one as you race toward the explosive conclusion of this gripping psychological thriller from the William C. Morris Award-winning author of Charm & Strange.
Bekka the ultimate Epic Recs partner has done it again! Seriously, my rec-ing powers are super inferior compared to her. I have to admit that I wasn't expecting to like this one. I enjoyed Kuehn's debut, CHARM & STRANGE, but it took me the entire novel to really love it. Similarly, that was the case with this one. While I had my theories about this or that, I didn't actually love this novel until this psychological thriller full of twisty turns finally came full circle and the answers I so desperately craved were revealed. Kuehn managed to craft such a twisted psychological thriller that I couldn't put the book down and the ending envoked serious emotion in me. Whoa, guys, just whoa.
Jamie Henry isn't your typical high school student. His older sister, Crazy Cate Henry, is known for, well, being a complete lunatic. She set a farm on fire two years ago and was just let out of a juvenile detention center after serving two years for her crimes. Because of this, Jamie's a bit of a pariah. And to make matters worse, he has this weird condition called cataplexy where the muscles in his hands weaken to the point of him not feeling them when he experiences any negative emotions like sadness or anxiety. The usage of this condition was super interesting since I've never heard about it before.
When Cate is let out, weird things begin to happen. Jamie's cataplexy begins to act up much more often, several different houses and establishments are set on fire like the barn, and the town begins to suspect trouble. It doesn't help that while his world begins to spiral after two years of calm since the first time he was adopted alongside his blood sister Cate, he meets the girl of his dreams and enters his first true relationship with someone that doesn't seem to care about his sister's history. She can differentiate between Jamie and Cate.
This book is an incredibly fast read. It doesn't occur over a long stretch of time and its fast pace combined with its short length allows you to finish this in a single day. The mystery in it grabs you from the very beginning and you desperately want to figure things out as Jamie deals with Cate's weird behavior and delves into his past to discover answers to why she so desperately wants to see him upon her release from juvie. When all of the hidden secrets finally come to light, your jaw drops and time literally pauses and you can do nothing but sit there screaming WHAT over and over again.
In true Kuehn fashion, the ending is what makes this novel. In a mere ten pages you are taken on the King Da Ka of rollercoaster rides where your shock morphs into every other possible emotion and the very last page makes you forget how to breathe. My one issue is that while I was enveloped by the story waiting for the end, it literally took the entire book to make me flip out as much as I did. Otherwise, I was almost emotionless waiting for that inevitable emotional overload that Kuehn is guaranteed to deliver.
Read this is you want your mind to be messed with. There's simply no other way to put it.
Warning: There is sexual situations, underage drinking, cussing, violence, death, and the mentions of drugs in this book. Not suitable for young readers.