I’ve always been very outspoken (to anyone who might be willing to listen) about the huge influence Robert Cormier has had on me: not just in my development as a writer, but as a person. The bleakness and honesty in his books meant a lot to me during a time in my life that felt very bleak and not all that honest. Now that I’m grown and have some distance from my adolescence, I’m not sure his worldview and mine completely line up, but I’ve carried many of his ideas and questions with me as I’ve drifted into adulthood.
For these reasons, I’d like to think Charm & Strange could sit comfortably on a shelf with Mr. Cormier’s work, maybe wedged somewhere in between dog-eared copies of Fade, The Chocolate War, and I am the Cheese. My main character is definitely a Cormier-esque type of protagonist. He’s a white teenage boy—with all the social privilege afforded that demographic—who, for circumstances not in his control, experiences himself as powerless.
As for more recent comparable titles, I’d say Charm & Strange shares some of its structure and themes with the following works:
Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King: For the blurring of internal and external worlds.
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta: For the entwined narrative structure and close, close voice.
The Freak Observer by Blythe Woolston: For a look at grief complicated by trauma.
Nothing by Janne Teller: For telling the miserable, existentialist truth.
Little Red Riding Hood: For that big bad wolf…
Okay, that last one’s not recent. But it is relevant.
Thanks so much for stopping by. We’ve still got a book giveaway going on through the end of the week, so please check it out!