Title: Girl on the Verge
Author: Pintip Dunn
Published: June 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Cover: It’s okay
From the author of The Darkest Lie comes a compelling, provocative story for fans of I Was Here and Vanishing Girls, about a high school senior straddling two worlds, unsure how she fits in either—and the journey of self-discovery that leads her to surprising truths.
In her small Kansas town, at her predominantly white school, Kanchana doesn’t look like anyone else. But at home, her Thai grandmother chides her for being too westernized. Only through the clothing Kan designs in secret can she find a way to fuse both cultures into something distinctly her own.
When her mother agrees to provide a home for a teenage girl named Shelly, Kan sees a chance to prove herself useful. Making Shelly feel comfortable is easy at first—her new friend is eager to please, embraces the family’s Thai traditions, and clearly looks up to Kan. Perhaps too much. Shelly seems to want everything Kanchana has, even the blond, blue-eyed boy she has a crush on. As Kan’s growing discomfort compels her to investigate Shelly’s past, she’s shocked to find how much it intersects with her own—and just how far Shelly will go to belong…
“Don’t let someone else determine how you feel about yourself.” (chapter 8)
I am extremely grateful to Xpresso Book Tours, Pintip Dunn, and Kensington Publishing Corp for a free advanced reader’s copy in return for an honest review. Head over here to follow the rest of the tour.
Girl on the Verge is an own voices young adult thriller about discovering who you are and learning to value what makes you different. Kan is a Thai-American who struggles with what that means for her culture and identity. With one foot in both cultures, she feels she can’t fit in anywhere and that her differences cause too much tension for her to be treated as an equal. To top that off, she frequently has to deal with racism and microagressions from those around her, even her friends.
Through this internal tension, Kan still chooses to see the best in people. She lets slurs roll off her back because she wants to believe that they don’t realize what they said. She welcomes the girl her mom brings home to stay with open arms and attempts to make her feel comfortable and wanted. Kan is crazy loyal and kind, while still going through angsty teenage drama within her family. She’s honestly the friend that everyone needs in high school.
Dunn’s writing is immersive and engaging. The set-up of the story felt natural and not forced at all. I honestly forgot I was reading a thriller and I should expect strange things until I was knee deep in the evidence. Though, I do distinctly remember starting to feel uneasy about Shelly’s manipulative friendship almost a fourth of the way through the book. The pace of the book started to snowball from there, getting more and more intense. I couldn’t put it down—I read the whole thing in less than 24 hours. While the beginning of the book didn’t reveal things too quickly, somewhere in the second half it felt like little facts were being revealed in much too obvious a manner, which allowed me to guess the last major plot twist a while before it arrived. I wonder if we didn’t get the chapters from Shelly’s perspective if that would’ve kept me in the dark enough that the ending would be more of a surprise with a side of “how did I not notice that?”
Of course, there’s a swoon-worthy guy in this book. It’s charming how much he wants to be able to save Kan and keep her from harm, but ultimately, she needed to be strong enough to do it on her own. He is so genuine and adorable, how could you not adore him just as much as Kan does?
Girl on the Verge is intense, relevant, and enjoyable, creating characters that are easy to connect with and a plot that keeps you glued to the page. This is my first read by Dunn, but I will definitely be coming back for more!
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Pintip Dunn is a New York Times bestselling author of YA fiction. She graduated from Harvard University, magna cum laude, with an A.B. in English Literature and Language. She received her J.D. at Yale Law School, where she was an editor of the YALE LAW JOURNAL.
Pintip is represented by literary agent Beth Miller of Writers House. Her debut novel, FORGET TOMORROW, won the RWA RITA® for Best First Book. Her other novels include THE DARKEST LIE, REMEMBER YESTERDAY, and the novella BEFORE TOMORROW.
She lives with her husband and children in Maryland. You can learn more about Pintip and her books at http://www.pintipdunn.com
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