Hello all and welcome to the Release Week Blitz for
Girl on the Verge by Pintip Dunn!
There’s a lot going on in this post. Check out the excerpt below, and
be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post! Without further ado, let’s get into my review:
Full of fantastic suspense, a diverse MC, and a cunning plot, Girl on the Verge is a must read for the summer, the beach, or anywhere.
Kanchana straddles two worlds, one foot in Kansas, another in Thailand and is unable to fit into either. To her it is impossible to satisfy both expectations, which causes her to end up flailing somewhere in between where she lives and where she wants to be. Then her mother brings back an orphaned girl, Shelly, to stay with them and Kan’s whole world changes. Shelly accepts her for who she is, sticking up for her, and her loyalty is so complete that it is disconcerting. This subtle feeling causes Kan to investigate Shelly: why is she living with them, and what happened in her past? The answers she finds do more than just unsettle her, and Kan begins to wonder exactly what the price of belonging is.
I need to admit something, I requested this book because of the diversity before I even knew what it was. I know, that’s bad, and it’s on me, but I have been craving the type of representation that Kan embodies for so long. Her inability to please both cultures, resulting in her feeling stuck, resonated deeply within me. The challenge to sort through the unspoken rules and stereotypes to figure out who we are is something that strikes a chord within me. Especially the part about Kan’s inability to find representation of herself, only as ‘exotic’, was particularly meaningful for me. Is it obvious yet how much I enjoyed the diversity in this book? Not only was it seamlessly integrated into the plot and novel, it was nuanced and challenging.
But this did leave me floundering in terms of plot and what I found surpassed my expectations. This subtle uneasiness touched me gently, like a twinge of forewarning, a sour smell riding on a whisper of a breeze. The suspense is so subtle that I almost actually encourage you to give this to someone and forbid them to read the back cover. Then the feeling of uncertainty sneaks up on you, pokes the back of your subconscious and begs you to take a closer look. It is a truly creepy, but fantastic feeling and speaks to the mastery of Dunn’s writing. What seems like a story of friendship and the power to bridge the divide, takes a sinister vibe and forces us to question the nature and cost of belonging in amazing ways.
Character wise, Dunn blows so many out of the water with Shelly and Kan. While Shelly’s character transforms before our very eyes, it is in the capability we have, to understand her feelings and motivations, that makes her so compelling. Both Kan and Shelly have this essential need, and fear, to belong, both feeling frozen by other’s perceptions which have a sneaky way of becoming our own. It is this human desire that forms a strong foundation for their fast friendship and one I know many of us can relate to. Kan’s transformation, especially with the help of Shelly, is wonderful and allows Kan to question her feelings regarding her diasporic family history.
I cannot sing the praises of Girl on the Verge enough due to its characterization, clever plot, and writing. There is a sinister spiral bound by secrecy that descends as the wind changes and it is absolutely worth reading. This book proves that the genres we know and love will all benefit from diversity. Making this a hit for anyone who, like me, needed some stuck-between-cultures main character action, and for those who just love great stories. Be sure to read the excerpt below and see for yourself and a chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!
Go pre-order yourself a copy and add it to Goodreads!
Girl on the Verge by Pintip Dunn
Publication Date: June 27, 2017
Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for an honest review from Netgalley
A fish swims beneath the open staircase in my Khun Yai’s house. A real live fish, with its translucent fins fluttering in the water, its belly gold-scaled and bloated from regular feedings. If I part my knees, I can catch long glimpses of its lazy swimming through the gap in the stairs.
Of course, I’m not supposed to part my knees. It’s not ladylike for a twelve-year-old girl, not here, not in Thailand. The land where my parents grew up; the place that’s supposed to be my home, too. That’s what the banner said, when my relatives came to pick us up at the airport. “Welcome home, Kanchana.”
Never mind that I only come to Thailand every couple years. Never mind that I don’t look like anyone else here, with my American build and my frizzy, out-of-control hair. Never mind that I don’t look like anyone in my hometown, either, since I’m the only Asian girl in school. Never mind that the only reason we’re here now is because my father’s dead and my mom can’t keep it together.
For a moment, pain lances through me, so sharp and severe that it might as well slice my heart in half, like in one of those video games my friends like to play. I squeeze my eyes shut, but that doesn’t keep the tears from spilling out. Neither do the glasses sliding down my nose. And so the tears drip down, down, down, past my unladylike knees, through the gap in the stairs, into the fish basin below.
The drops scare the fish, who swims away with its tail swishing in the water, no longer languid, no longer lazy. So, even this creature wants to get away from me—from my grief, from my strangeness—as quickly as possible.
“There you are, luk lak,” Khun Yai says in Thai, coming down the stairs. She is my mother’s mother, and since we arrived, she’s used the endearment—child that I love—more often than my name.
“You’re up early.” She pats her forehead with a handkerchief. It’s only seven a.m., and already sweat drenches my skin like I’ve taken a dip in the basin. No wonder they take two or three showers a day here.
“Couldn’t sleep. Jet lag.”
“I’ve been up for a couple hours myself.” She eases onto the step next to me, her knees pressed together, her legs folded demurely to one side.
Immediately, I try to rearrange my body to look like hers and then give up. My legs just don’t go that way.
“What do you want to do today?” Khun Yai asks. “More shopping?”
“Um, no thanks.” I make a face. “Didn’t you hear those salesgirls at Siam Square yesterday? They rushed up as soon as we entered and said they didn’t have anything in my size.” My cheeks still burn when I think about their haughty expressions.
She sighs. “The clothes there are just ridiculously small. We’ll go to the mall today. They should have something that will fit you.”
I stare at her diminutive frame and her chopstick legs. “One of the salesgirls asked how much I weighed. Another grabbed my arm and said I felt like a side pillow.”
“They didn’t mean any harm. It is just the Thai way to be blunt.” She catches my chin and tilts up my face. “You are so beautiful. I wish you could see that.”
I could say so many things. I could tell her that I’m ugly not only in Thailand but also in the United States. Even though I’m not big by American standards—far from it—I could confess how the boys call me Squinty. How those Thai salesgirls snickered at my poodle-fuzz hair. I could explain how I’m from two worlds but fit in neither.
But I don’t. Because my words will only make her sad, and there have been enough tears in our family.
About the Author
Pintip 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’s first novel, FORGET TOMORROW won the RWA RITA® award for Best First Book. Her other novels include THE DARKEST LIE, REMEMBER YESTERDAY, and the novella, BEFORE TOMORROW. She is represented by literary agent Beth Miller of Writers House.
She lives with her husband and children in Maryland.
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