Book Review

When I Am Through With You by Stephanie Kuehn

ABOUT  WHEN I AM THROUGH WITH YOU –

A gripping story of survival and the razor’s-edge difference between perfect cruelty and perfect love. 
 
“This isn’t meant to be a confession. Not in any spiritual sense of the word. Yes, I’m in jail at the moment. I imagine I’ll be here for a long time, considering. But I’m not writing this down for absolution and I’m not seeking forgiveness, not even from myself. Because I’m not sorry for what I did to Rose. I’m just not. Not for any of it.”

I’ve read almost all of Stephanie Kuehn’s books. She is an amazing writer who excels at writing characters who are troubled, off-balance, sometimes even a little sinister.  However, this book was really, dark. 

When I Am Through with You is told from the point of view of Ben, a high school senior who’s waiting to go on trial for murder. The character Ben is really exciting and dark at the same time. I really liked the way the story unfolded through Ben’s recollection after the event. From the book’s summary, we know that Ben does something to Rose but as I read the story I just couldn’t figure it out. Ben is really a likeable guy. He’s not perfect and doesn’t always know the answers but I just couldn’t see him causing harm to anyone. So I had to keep reading to find out what really happened.

We learn all about the school hiking trip up in the mountains that went wrong, as this compelling story of intrigue, adventure, and betrayal develops.

This is one of the most addicting books I’ve ever read. It had me from the very first page. I cared about these characters, who were at once sympathetic and realistically flawed, and I was intrigued by Ben’s complicated relationship with Rose. I was drawn into the host of fascinating characters – whip-smart Avery; mean and self-loathing Archie; kind-hearted but unfulfilled Mr. Howe, the history teacher who leads their expedition. Each of these characters is multifaceted, and has their own story to tell.

There are a few surprising twists in the story and a whole lot of excitement before everything is over. I really had no idea what was going to happen to everyone as the story moved along. I ended up feeling for these kids as they tried to figure out how to handle the situation they found themselves in. 

I thought her prose was intelligent, compelling, and quick-witted. The pacing in this novel was outstanding – I sat down to start this yesterday and when I blinked hours had gone by. Kuehn brought the scene of this treacherous camping trip to life – I truly felt like I was with this group of students on that mountain. It’s been a while since I’ve read something with such an immersive setting.

I highly recommend this to fans of adult and YA thrillers alike. The only thing that served as a constant reminder that this was YA were the ages of the characters – otherwise, I found this novel surprisingly mature and dark and quite twisted. But also, age is just a number, so it doesn’t  matter that much.

Without giving much away , I again recommend this book to others. It was a really exciting story that was really hard to put down.

 

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