Underneath Everything

Underneath Everything
Publisher
Age Range
14+
Release Date
October 27, 2015
ISBN
978-0062327215
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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.

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Overall rating
 
3.0
Plot
 
3.0
Characters
 
3.0
Writing Style
 
3.0
A year ago, Mattie and Kris walked away from it all. They walked away from popularity, from so-called friends, from Jolene. It was just them. Now, senior year finds Mattie wanting to experiences things again. It all starts with the bonfire, then a party at Bella’s house, and suddenly, everything is changing. She walked away from it all, from Jolene, for a reason. Can Mattie survive letting it all back in?

This was one of those kinds of books where it felt like forever for me to gather my thoughts about how I feel after reading it. Even now, there’s parts of me that are confused and unsure. I was left with the feeling that I had missed some important part of the story that would connect everything I had just read and there would be a light bulb moment of ‘I get it!’ but it never came.

I really liked the premise of the book. The relationship between Mattie and Jolene was very toxic and even when Mattie thought she was free of her, she ended up getting pulled back in. The way it was handled, through flashbacks leading up to Mattie walking away, and the present of seeing her slowly getting sucked back in was disturbing and fascinating from a storytelling perspective. It was easy to see why Mattie would be drawn to bright, shinny Jolene who made her feel special, and it was equally as easy to see why Mattie was better off without her.

While the main focus was on Mattie and her relationships with Jolene, Kris, and Jolene’s ex Hudson, my favourite scenes were the ones that included Mattie’s family. The way they spoke to each other, acted around each other, cared for each other, it was just all so familiar. The family scenes could have easily been my own family.

It wasn’t a particularly fast read as there wasn’t a whole lot of action to have me turning the pages. It was all centered on Mattie, the toxic relationship with her and Jolene, and her growth. I kept waiting for a big twist to catch me off-guard and excite me but it stayed predictable. It wasn’t a bad read and I liked the way the toxic friendship was portrayed, but it just didn’t excite me as much as I had hoped.
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