Stephanie Kuehn’s Charm & Strange is a story is about the struggle of Andrew Winston Winters and will keep you guessing to the end. We know his family suffered a tragedy and that he was somehow involved. His brother and sister are dead and he was shipped off to a boarding school. Before the traumatic event he was known as Drew. After that he goes by his middle name, Win. Win excels in science. The title gets its name from both the names of quarks and how people see Win. Some find him charming, but most will agree he is strange. The story is told in alternating chapters in the present and the past. The present is “matter” and the past is “anti-matter.” Kuehn does an excellent job weaving the details of Win’s current war within himself while giving us clues to his past. Win has some serious anger issues and is prone to violence. In one instance he takes it out on a boy who beats him at tennis. Win’s family is full of secrets that will have the reader wondering whether they have supernatural powers or issues with abuse. Win has problems with his roommate. Kuehn weaves the details of their relationship as she develops both characters. It is too simple to call this a werewolf book. The book is beautifully written. I couldn’t put it down and made my way through it very quickly. I highly recommend this for both male and female readers.
Ideas for discussing with teens:
Discuss Drew’s behavior after losing the tennis match to Soren.
Talk about his relationships with his brother and sister.
Why do you think Win’s parents sent him to boarding school.
What do you think really happened to Lex? Talk about their complicated relationship.
When he says there is a wolf inside of him, what do you think he means?
What was your reaction when you found out what happened to Win’s brother and sister.
Discuss Win’s fascination with science. Discuss what a quark is.
Why do you think he gets so carsick?
Do you think the werewolves are real?