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A gripping story of survival and the razor’s-edge difference between perfect cruelty and perfect love.
“This isn’t meant to be a confession. Not in any spiritual sense of the word. Yes, I’m in jail at the moment. I imagine I’ll be here for a long time, considering. But I’m not writing this down for absolution and I’m not seeking forgiveness, not even from myself. Because I’m not sorry for what I did to Rose. I’m just not. Not for any of it.”
Ben Gibson is many things, but he’s not sorry and he’s not a liar. He will tell you exactly about what happened on what started as a simple school camping trip in the mountains. About who lived and who died. About who killed and who had the best of intentions. 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.
Smart, dark, and twisty, When I Am Through With You will leave readers wondering what it really means to do the right thing.
|Publisher:||Penguin Young Readers Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.80(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.20(d)|
|Age Range:||14 - 17 Years|
About the Author
Stephanie Kuehn is the author of five novels for young adults. In 2014, her Charm & Strange won the American Library Association’s William C. Morris Award for best debut novel, and her three subsequent books, Complicit, Delicate Monsters, and The Smaller Evil have cemented her reputation as one of YA literature’s most unique and daring voices. She lives in Northern California and is a post-doctoral fellow in clinical psychology.
Read an Excerpt
I’m not sure what else to say about Rose. If you know me at all, then I doubt that’s surprising. I suppose I could tell you more about how we got to know each other. How she took me to the inn that afternoon, where we sat outside in the shade of the redwood trees, and I told her how much I liked her shoes—they were made of this bright camel-brown leather and were shinier than anything I’d ever seen. Rose smiled when I said this, pleasing me that I’d pleased her. Plus, she was pretty like her shoes—shiny and rare and right in front of me; I was entranced, watching feverishly as her lips moved and her legs crossed while she rambled on about life with her French-Peruvian parents and dour-faced twin brother, who, she hinted, in a provocative voice, had serious issues of some mysterious nature.
I could tell you how she pined daily for the city she’d left behind. The people. The music. The food. The culture. Being able to see a first-run movie every now and then. Owning the inn might’ve been her parents’ dream, but Rose thought for sure she was going to leave this place someday. The town of Teyber was just a way station on her march to Somewhere, and I supposed I was, too. Rose had plans for college. Graduate school. To be special. Be the best. That’s one way we were different. From my vantage point, there was no hope for escape; I’d reached my zenith, a dim, low-slung, fatherless arc, and had long stopped believing in more.
I could also tell you how, in the two years we dated, Rose was my first everything. First kiss, first touch, first girl to see me naked and lustful without bursting into laughter (although she was the first to do that, too). We did more eventually. We did everything. Whatever she wanted. Rose dictated the rhyme and rhythm of our sexual awakening, and I loved that. I never had to make up my mind when I was with her.
By the way, I have no problem admitting I was nervous as hell the first time we actually did it—both of us offering up our so-called innocence during an awkward Thanksgiving Day fumbling that happened on the floor of the locked linen closet at the inn. For an awful moment, right before, as I hovered above her on the very edge of a promise, I feared I wouldn’t be able to—my ambivalence runs deep—but Rose stayed calm. In her steady, guiding voice, she told me what to do and just how to do it. I was eager to listen. I was eager to be what she needed.
I don’t know. There’s more to say, of course, much more. Two years is a long time in a short life, especially when you’re in high school. But that’s not the Rose anybody wants to read about, is it? Tragedy is infinitely more interesting than bliss. That’s the allure of self-destruction. Or so I’ve found.
But I’ll end with this: I miss Rose. I’m even glad I met her, despite what happened on that mountain. There were bad parts, yes; if I had my own days of darkness and suffering and pain-imposed sensory deprivation on account of my headaches, then in between her moments of verve and brashness, Rose had her own kind of darkness—bleak and savage, like a circling wildcat waiting to eat her up. What she needed during those times was for me to keep her alive, and for two years, that’s exactly what I did. And whether I did it by making her laugh or making her come or shielding her from her fears of tomorrow by giving her all my todays, I did it because she told me to and because I loved her. Truly.
So why’d I kill her?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
When I am Through with You is a dark tale about how Ben comes to murder his girlfriend, Rose. The story reads as if from Ben’s journal but without the journaling format. As the story progresses, Ben develops into a thoroughly unlikeable narrator. I became increasingly frustrated with Ben’s choices as the events leading to the death of Rose unfolded. At times this book was so shocking that I had to intentionally put it down. When I am Through with You is the type of story that will affect adults differently than its intended young adult audience. Particularly those of us that have worked with children and teens. I found this book to be surprisingly free of cliche and naked with emotion.
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.
To me it felt like Ben was telling his story like in a crime show documentary. It made me really like it and want to keep reading to see what was happening and where his story was going to go. Ben was a little weird, rarely stuck up for himself, a people pleaser, a nice person, and a killer. I can see why I guess on why he thought he was doing to right thing, I just couldn’t do it myself. I liked reading about their hiking trip up the mountains and the misadventures that happened. At one point it was one wrong choice after another. Made this interesting to read and to guess to what was going to happen next! The ending I wished there was a little more but I was completely fine on how it ended. *I received this through Penguin’s first to read until the copy I received got an error and then I bought it to finish reading.
I liked this book a lot. The story grabbed me right away and I was completely hooked. This is the first time that I have read anything by Stephanie Kuehn but I quickly found that she is a fabulous storyteller. I ended up reading this book over two nights and really never wanted to put it down because I had to know what happened. I had a lot of fun reading this book. This story is told by Ben. I really liked the way the story unfolded through Ben's recollection after the event. From the book's summary, we know that Ben does something to Rose but as I read the story I just couldn't figure it out. Ben is really a likeable guy. He's not perfect and doesn't always know the answers but I just couldn't see him causing harm to anyone. So I had to keep reading to find out what really happened. The book takes Ben, his teacher, and a few more high school students on an overnight hiking trip. I was a little surprised by how much this group of kids got away with on the trip. Ben is the teacher's assistant for the trip so he has a bit of responsibility but he doesn't hesitate to have a little fun himself. There is a bit of high school drama which I really didn't mind in this story. It felt realistic and really helped show who each of the characters really were. There are a few surprising twists in the story and a whole lot of excitement before everything is over. I really had no idea what was going to happen to everyone as the story moved along. I ended up feeling for these kids as they tried to figure out how to handle the situation they found themselves in. I would recommend this book to fans of others. It was a really exciting story that was really hard to put down. I definitely plan to read more of Stephanie Kuehn's work in the future. I received an advance reader edition of this book from Dutton Books for Young Readers via First to Read.
I do not remember the last time I read a book that unputdownable. I am a huge Stephanie Kuehn fan and this is probably my favorite of hers since the utterly brilliant Charm & Strange.
"Tragedy is infinitely more interesting than bliss. That's the allure of self-destruction. Or so I've found." Oh, this book. I actually started out really liking it. I loved the mystery and I wanted a great thriller to read. Unfortunately, this book completely fell apart at the climax of the story and my interest nosedived. We follow Ben Gibson as he narrates what happened on a disastrous school trip that lead to death, pain, and loss. Things I Liked I really loved the short chapters it made it incredible easy to read, even when my interest in the story began to wane. It was really easy to latch on Ben as a characters. It was easy to follow his POV in the story, and his emotions and uncertainty with everything that was happening. Things I Didn't Like I didn't like Rose at all. I thought she was entitled, manipulative, and not really a good girlfriend. (Ben wasn't that great of a boyfriend either, though) The climax of the story shows the students making the stupidest decision possible. From that point on, I didn't care if they died, or got hurt, because they were so incredibly stupid. I lost interest in the story, and I honestly only finished it because it was easy to read. I really wanted to like this, and while it has a solid start, the characters completely ruined the story for me. I'm a character driven reader, so if you like plot or action more you still might like this. And honestly, there wasn't much of a thriller, we know exactly what happened and are only learning the why - and like I said, the characters were largely idiots, so I didn't care. An unfortunate miss for me. I received a copy of the book from Penguin's First to Read Program in exchange for an honest review.