Published: June 27th, 2017 by Kensington | Series: N/A | Length: 256 pages | Genre: YA contemporary thriller | Source: I received an eARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. | Possible Triggers: sexual harassment, racism, violence, bullying, child abuse, suicide, murder
Summary from Goodreads:
From the author of The Darkest Lie comes a compelling, provocative story for fans of I Was Here and Vanishing Girls, about a high school senior straddling two worlds, unsure how she fits in either—and the journey of self-discovery that leads her to surprising truths.
In her small Kansas town, at her predominantly white school, Kanchana doesn’t look like anyone else. But at home, her Thai grandmother chides her for being too westernized. Only through the clothing Kan designs in secret can she find a way to fuse both cultures into something distinctly her own.
When her mother agrees to provide a home for a teenage girl named Shelly, Kan sees a chance to prove herself useful. Making Shelly feel comfortable is easy at first—her new friend is eager to please, embraces the family’s Thai traditions, and clearly looks up to Kan. Perhaps too much. Shelly seems to want everything Kanchana has, even the blond, blue-eyed boy she has a crush on. As Kan’s growing discomfort compels her to investigate Shelly’s past, she’s shocked to find how much it intersects with her own—and just how far Shelly will go to belong…
As a fan of YA thrillers and a reader always looking to read more diversely, Pintip Dunn’s latest went on my TBR as soon as I heard about it. Once I saw it was up on NetGalley, I couldn’t resist requesting it and I was so excited to see that I had gotten approved. And let me tell you: it did not disappoint. If you’re looking for a new thriller to read or want to read more about what it’s like to be a first-generation American, you should really give this one a try.
Let me first say that I loved the parts of the book that explored Kan feeling like she doesn’t fit in with either her American friends or her Thai family. Her parents are both from Thailand, but she and her family live in America, and while she wants to fit in with both cultures, she feels as if she doesn’t fit in with either one. I think this will be incredibly relevant and relatable to readers with immigrant parents or even who are immigrants themselves. I can’t speak as to whether it’s an authentic portrayal or not as I’m white and I’ve never really been in a similar situation, but considering the author is also Asian-American, I’m not too worried about it. (As always though, if you know of any Asian reviewers who have reviewed this book, please let me know! I’d love to link to their reviews here.)
The relationships between Kan and the other characters in the story were really interesting to read about, especially her relationship with Khun Yai (her grandmother) and Shelly. I love reading books with strong familial relationships, so Kan’s relationship with Khun Yai was refreshing to see. Even though they have disagreements, readers can still see there’s a very strong bond between the two of them and they really care about one another. Kan’s friendship with Shelly is pretty twisted (which I’m sure you could guess would be the case just from reading the synopsis), but that made it even more interesting to me. As dark as it sounds, I loved seeing Kan go from pitying Shelly to realizing she’s not nearly as innocent as she seems.
My biggest complaint is that the romance between Kan and Ethan came on pretty suddenly and seemed to move pretty fast. It makes sense to some extent, given what they go through together in the book, but in the beginning, they go from never having had a conversation with each other to making out. Sure, they had exchanged some flirty glances, but that was pretty much it. Don’t get me wrong, their relationship is really cute and I like the two of them together, but I wish there had been more build up before they started dating.
One more thing that I have to mention is that this book is impossible to put down. Once I started to see how creepy Shelly is, I found it impossible to stop reading. I was so desperate to learn what Shelly was doing (and why) that I just kept turning the pages. While some things were easy to figure out or predict, there were also plenty of things that I was not expecting at all that left me surprised and thoroughly creeped out. If you’re looking for a good creepy thriller, this won’t disappoint.
It’s hard for me to really say much more about Girl on the Verge without giving too much away, but trust me when I say this is a great book. If you like thrillers or just want to see more Asian characters in YA lit, I definitely recommend giving this a try when it releases on the 27th. You won’t be disappointed!
Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy to review. This has not influenced the contents of this review.