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Winners Choice
ends 5.31

July 27, 2015

Needs Work: What We Knew by Barbara Stewart

Format: Hardcover | 256 pages
Release Date: July 14, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Source: Publisher
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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27 comments:

  1. Oh gosh, sorry this one turned a wrong corner for you. I hate it when that happens, especially when it was okay before then. Wonderful honest review though! I appreciate all your thoughtful remarks on this.

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  2. Ah yes it's quite complicated to have characters like that in a book... I can understand. I didn't know about the book but not sure it's for me.

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  3. *heart attack* eeeeeek. Okay... well, you're definitely saving me. You're must only be right: your review and the summary of the book do not match at all. Ugh, I hate misleading summaries :(

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  4. Yes it is ok to give up! Why read a book you do not like

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    1. That point was definitely driven home by reading this book!

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  5. Thanks Shelley for the brutally honest review. I have in the past had the same reaction as you when I could'n like any or most of the characters.
    Thanks!

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    1. You're very welcome, Debbie! Finally came out of my shadow, as it were.

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    1. Kind of sad, but sometimes you just have to walk away.

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  7. Oh my! Now, I def won't be putting this on my TBR. One, I value your honest opinions on books. Two, I think me and Tracy would not get off on a good start. Let's face it, some reviewers try to sugar coat a lot of bad points when it comes to reviewing books given to them, rather than a book they purchase themselves. I wish everyone would just be honest and stop having readers run and buy books that they end up not liking. I can't count how many I've bought because the advance reviews were so positive. Nicely done honey!

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    1. I adore your comments! Thank you very much Lekeisha!

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  8. I won't bother... Sorry it had to be you making the rest of us wiser :) It happens. Chin up, and move on to another story.

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  9. Thanks for your honest review. It happens sometimes. We come across a book that just isn't right for us at all.

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    1. That's very true, Mary. I've deleted E-Galleys due to negative reviews, or author shenanigans. Too many good books out there waiting to be read!

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  10. Wow ! This book sounds like a disturbing mess. I am so glad I read your review, It wasn't on my radar, but I know now to skip it I don't the sound of the characters at all, and I don't like that it is disturbing. Thanks!

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  11. Woops. Definitely not going to be reading this book. If a main character and I just don't click, I would just DNF it right away. Sorry this was a terrible read for you. The synopsis would have made me want to read it if you hadn't written this review. Thanks!

    Blessie @ Mischievous Reads

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  12. Kudos to you for finishing the book, Shelley. And for laying out so well all the reasons to pass this one by. :)

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    1. My new moto is: Read all the books nobody else will read, and report back to the masses why. Thanks!

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  13. I've skipped a lot of books. I just don't know what to write on the feedbacks. I feel guilty for just writing DNF. I need to come up with a creative template for rejection lol

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