by Marcy Beller Paul
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: October 27th 2015
Mattie shouldn’t be at the bonfire. She should be finding new maps for her collection, hanging out with Kris, and steering clear of almost everyone else, especially Jolene. After all, Mattie and Kris dropped off the social scene the summer after sophomore year for a reason.
But now Mattie is a senior, and she’s sick of missing things. So here she is.
And there’s Jolene: Beautiful. Captivating. Just like the stories she wove. Mattie would know; she used to star in them. She and Jolene were best friends. Mattie has the scar on her palm to prove it, and Jolene has everything else, including Hudson.
But when Mattie runs into Hudson and gets a glimpse of what could have been, she decides to take it all back: the boyfriend, the friends, the life she was supposed to live. Problem is, Mattie can’t figure out where Jolene ends and she begins.
Because there’s something Mattie hasn’t told anyone—she walked away from Jolene over a year ago, but she never really left.
Poignant and provocative, Marcy Beller Paul’s debut novel tells the story of an intoxicating—and toxic—relationship that blurs the boundary between reality and fantasy, love and loyalty, friendship and obsession.
What to say about Mattie. When it was Mattie and Kris, I really liked her. When it was Mattie and Jolene or Mattie and Hudson something was off about her. You could feel her struggling to pull herself apart from who she is and who she felt she should be with them. Like she just couldn’t unwind herself from the relationships. She wanted to be who both Hudson and Jolene wanted her to be. I wasn’t necessarily fond of Mattie but she makes both bad and good decisions that everyone makes as a teenager. I’m pretty sure I’m not always likable myself.
Talk about a toxic personality with Jolene. She’s that friend that sucks the people around her dry in order to fill her own holes. There are many things in the story that are confusing about her. I think by the end of the book I still didn’t understand Jolene she liked to take people to the edge and never really showed herself. Mattie might be the only person she has ever cared about but at the same time I don’t know.
Kris was the only person I think I actually wholehearted liked. Hudson always felt like he was trying too hard, same with Bella. Kris had a plan and a goal and just wanted to get out of dodge. She genuinely cares about Mattie though. You can kind of see her trying to figure how to keep her above water without getting herself too involved in the tangled web of Jolene.
Mattie’s relationship with Jolene is what keeps the pages of the book turning. I was trying to figure it out half the time. Like do they want to be together do they not? The Hudson relationship doesn’t really feel real either. Like they were both trying to prove something by going out with him. It all leads up to the explosion at the end. It was like shaking a bottle of soda over and over and over until finally you know the pop just has to pop off.
Underneath Everything is kind of dark and twisted but also honest. I really did enjoy the writing style. I’m pretty sure Marcy Beller Paul can write a kickass murder thriller if she wanted to. She really gets how to do dark and lyrical. At times the book felt slow for me but I also think that is a personal struggle with contemporaries I have. Even when they are as interesting as this one was. I think I’m still trying to completely wrap my brain around it.
She graduated from Harvard University and lives in New Jersey with her husband and two children. Underneath Everything will be published by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins, in Fall 2015. It is her first novel.
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