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All These Beautiful Strangers by Elizabeth Klehfoth - Review

Thursday, October 25, 2018


Where did I get it? I bought it over the summer in a shop in Thirsk when I went with some friends. 

What's it about? I was confused for most of this book as to whether it was being marketed as a Young Adult book or not, but the internet seems to think it was. But while it's about young adults, it's an odd book that doesn't seem to fit in YA entirely. 

The main character is Charlie Galloway, aged seventeen. She is a pupil at an exclusive prep school in New England, the school her father Alistair attended. At the beginning of the book Charlie gets an invite to join the A's, a secret club which everyone wants to join. She has to pass several challenges as a hazing ritual, and when one of her fellow initiates fails the test, she sees exactly what the punishment can be for crossing the A's. 

Meanwhile, we learn about Charlie's family. Her dad is the president of a multi million dollar company; her family is definitely old money. Her mother, Grace, mysteriously disappeared ten years ago. Alistair was in the frame for having murdered her, but then bank tapes revealed Grace had withdrawn a lot of money in the weeks before her disappearance. Charlie has dealt with being abandoned by her mother, but she's still hurting from it and she doesn't talk to her mother's family anymore.

Then one night her mum's brother Hank comes to see her at school and hands her some photographs from before Grace disappeared. They make Charlie start examining the past and everything she thought happened between her parents.

Meanwhile, we also get chapters from Alistair's and Grace's points of view, and this confused me because they're obviously adults at the time and this is unusual in YA books. But it did allow the reader to see how Charlie's parents met as well as see what happened between them. I didn't mind these parts, and I liked Grace as a character, but the themes were often quite adult and for that I'll trigger warn for violence and sexual assault. 

What age range is it for? Due to aforementioned themes, I'm going to say 16+ 

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? No 

Are any main characters people of colour? No 

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? No 

Is there any sex stuff? Yes, plus the sexual assault. 

Are drugs mentioned or used? Maybe prescription ones

Is there any talk of death? Yes, obviously 

Are there swear words? Yes 

What criticisms do I have? Well, it is extremely white and privileged, obviously. That said, there was a real sinister feel to the school in its entirety, showing it's not all it's cracked up to be. I liked Charlie and the plot kept me reading, but I didn't feel like there was enough at stake in parts. Like at one point I thought she was going to be kidnapped, but it was just a boy grabbing her. I felt like the A's storyline didn't get a satisfactory ending, even though we could see the futility in the group's existence. The book's really long, I felt like some of it could have been edited out. But I did like it, don't let me give the impression that I didn't. 

Would I recommend the book? Yep, if the plot appeals 

Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? I liked the cover, if I'm honest, and was seduced!

What other books is it like? I feel like I compare a lot of books to We Were Liars, but it definitely has that vibe to it. I think it's a bit like S.T.A.G.S by M A Bennett, too. 

How many stars? Four out of five

Where is the book going now? I think I'll keep it!



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