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Review: What We Knew

— feeling what?!?
What We Knew - Barbara Stewart

I received a copy from Netgalley.

I'm really not sure what to make of this. For the most part, I liked it. However, I was really disappointed with the ending. The characters were pretty shallow but the writing was good, the narrative was absorbing and compelling with some beautiful wording. Good, though disturbing imagery.

The characters in this book were not particularly likable, at least not for me. As I mentioned, the story and the mystery aspect were good enough on their own that it didn't really matter that the characters hardly seemed to have any depth to them. Though I did find it kind of interesting to see a story from the view point of such an unreliable narrator. The teens in this book smoke, they drink, they get high, they party, they have sex. Which in reality is probably much more realistic. It wasn't quite horror movie gritty, but it had an interesting psychological factor to it as to what was real and what was imagined.

The main character Tracey was brash and selfish, and I figured out immediately what the secret she was concealing was. I didn't particularly like fact she uses words like "retard" and "spaz" as insults and derogatory terms. Her tone was blunt to the point of cutting at times. Though I really did like the relationship she had with her best friend Lisa.

Then towards the end it seemed to spiral into a much darker tone. Lisa's secret reveal was horrible. Though it seemed like nothing was ever resolved. I was left with a lot of questions and no answers at all.

At a few points these two girls commit some very serious and violent crimes, nothing happens to them because of it. Both of the two girls, both Tracey and Lisa have terrible, awful things happen to them, but that doesn't, in this reader's opinion, give them license to commit crimes and get away with it. Though to be fair at least, one major violent incident does eat away at Tracey's conscience throughout the novel, and the other happens at the end as I supposed a warped sense of justice for the wrong doing to Lisa. The second violent act didn't bother me so much as the first one because the guy really deserved it. I suppose with Lisa's situation the reality is nothing would ever be wrapped up to satisfactory conclusion. But the other major violent incident she and Tracey committed, that left a very uncomfortable and sour feeling that no consequences came to them because of it. The ending was very open and just seemed weird.

(show spoiler)



For the most part, the novel was pretty good, but I felt the end was a big let down.

Thank you to Netgalley and St Martin's Press for approving my request to view this title.