Character Driven Mystery | Review of “When I Am Through with You”


By Cynthia Ayala

When I Am Through with You by Stephanie Kuehn
Dutton Books for Young Readers
Image Credit: Goodreads

“Ben Gibson is many things, but he’s not sorry, and he’s not a liar. He will tell you exactly how what started as a simple school camping trip in the mountains ended the way it did. About who lived and who died. About who killed and who had the best of intentions. And he’ll tell you about Rose. But he’s going to tell you in his own time. Because after what happened on that mountain, time is the one thing he has plenty of.” —Goodreads

Published August 1, 2017, by Dutton Books for Young Readers, When I Am Through with You
by Stephanie Kuehn is a contemporary thriller for the young adult audience.

What’s very riveting about this novel is the approach the author has taken to build up the narrative. She starts off the story with the ending. Well, not necessarily, but she gives the reader glimpse of how the story is going to unfold. But the reader is going on a journey to discover what is going to happen with the characters. Their dynamics are rich, they have substance to them and explore who they are and what they mean to each other.

On the one hand that’s great because it brings the characters to life and makes them more realistic. On the other hand, this novel is about a very unhealthy relationship. It’s just a very toxic relationship that’s hard to watch unfold because Ben is a character who suffers, he suffers from such abuse and neglect from his mother and then there is Rose who is unlikable for many reasons: she acts entitled, and she’s manipulative. Ben is a pitiable character because he suffers physically and mentally from such a lack of self-loathing. He doesn’t think he’s worth anything, doesn’t think he deserves someone as beautiful as Rose because he is himself. And Rose, she can only be kind to him when she feels good. Otherwise, she works so hard to try to fix him because he’s so broken rather than doing what she needs to do to really help him: love him genuinely.

However, following the story, watching the mystery unfold. It’s clear Ben cares for his friends, for Rose, so as the story drives forward, the mystery continues to unfold and become something worth reading. The relationship was difficult to read sometimes, but it gives so much depth to who the characters are, creating a lot of tension to the story. And in their own way, the characters are trouble, each of them going through something, but they are also stupid making most of them, except Ben, unlikable. They distract from the overall enjoyment of the story, serving as nothing more than plot devices to move the story to its inevitable climax. The other characters are really the biggest downside to the novel only because, as troubles as they are, giving them a semblance of depth, they are incredibly stupid.

Overall though, it has enough tension and mystery to keep the reader engrossed in the happenings of the as the events unfold to reveal the eventual outcome. (★★★☆☆ | B-)

Product Details:

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

Page count: 304pp

Age Range: 14 & Over

ISBN: 978-1-1019-9473-3

Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers

List Price:  $17.99

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