Release Date: July 14, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Genre: Young Adult | Mystery
When a local myth starts to seem like a dangerous reality, two girls are set on a path that could change their lives forever
"When I was little, I imagined a monster: Scaly hands. Pits for eyes..."
When Tracy and her best friend, Lisa, were kids, stories about a man—a creep who exposes himself to little girls—kept them out of the woods and in their own backyards. But Tracy and Lisa aren't so little anymore, and the man in the woods is nothing but a stupid legend. Right?
But someone is in the woods. Someone is watching. And he knows all their secrets, secrets they can't tell anyone—not even each other.
"Monsters don't exist."
Lisa's just being paranoid. At least that’s what Tracy thinks. But when a disturbing "gift" confirms her worst fears, it sets the girls on a dangerous journey that takes them beyond the edge of the woods. But reality is more terrifying than the most chilling myth, and what they find will test the bonds of friendship, loyalty, and love.
"Once upon a time, two girls were lost in the woods."
In Barbara's Stewart's What We Knew, Tracy and Lisa can't destroy the evil they'll face, but can they stop it from destroying each other?
WHAT WE KNEW, by Barbara Stewart, is perhaps one of the more disturbing stories that I've read this year. Yet, it wasn't because of the fabled "Banana Man" who is said to live in the woods, and takes little girls away from their parents to do bloody knows what with them. Instead, it is a story that delves deeply into the psyche of 16-year old Tracy Kolcun who is by far, the most aggravating lead character that I've read about, and perhaps one who is not that reliable as a narrator.
Tracy is a character who drinks, smokes pot, smokes cigarettes, has sex with someone who ISN'T her supposed boyfriend, and is so stuck on herself, that she misses what is happening to her best friend Lisa and sister Katie and let's a perfectly good boyfriend walk out the door. Some will probably correlate her behavior to her father's who basically left his family behind for a piece of side action. Sorry, I'm being rather blunt, but that's the truth. Let me say that there is a particular incident that happens to Tracy before this story started. I picked up on what happened immediately. Kind of hard not to when she continues to talk about it without letting her own mother or best friend know what happened. Then again, it took me 10 years to tell my mom, so.....
None of the characters, less Katie Grant who is 13, appealed to me on any level. There is a particularly brutal scene in WHAT WE KNEW that I won't reveal, or spoil. Let's just say that after this scene, I found myself wondering what the hell I was reading and why I would subjugate myself to this silliness. Then another scene is thrown in for the helluva it, where the two so called best friends get away with yet another illegal activity where nobody ends up in jail. The last incident is a perfect example of resolving ones own issues by taking out their aggression on someone else.
I have to say that in this particular instance, the synopsis of WHAT WE KNEW is absolutely and completely wrong on so many levels it's just not funny. What we are promised is a creepy ass stalker who leaves creepy things behind for the girls to find. That would have been an actual improvement to what actually takes place. I do think I can forgive Lisa for her actions. Subtle I know but I rather not just come out and say why. Lisa and her sister are definitely more appealing than Tracy. At least they really had real life problems that affected them. While Tracy does have some legitimate issues with her father and gay brother, there are other ways to express one's self, or perhaps that's just me being all responsible and shit.
I loathe writing negative reviews. I often find myself intentionally finding the good things instead of the bad things in books. I think that I prefer to give the author the benefit of the doubt instead of crushing said author's dreams of continuing in this profession. I've also never DNF'd a book. I know, I know, I am preaching now. But, my point is this. Sometimes it does make sense to skip over a book regardless if a publisher is kind enough to send it to you. It is okay to skip over a book that has more negative reviews than positives. It is okay to pile onto a character like Tracy who is so self absorbed, she can't even look up what a D&C procedure is!
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