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Underneath Everything Hardcover – October 27, 2015
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From School Library Journal
“Marcy Beller Paul’s Underneath Everything is a lyrical and haunting debut novel. The story of Mattie and Jolene digs right into the heart of a poisonous friendship between two teenage girls, and I found myself holding my breath during the book’s final pages.” (Jennifer Mathieu, author of The Truth About Alice)
“Strong characters, an intense plot, and relatable situations make this debut novel a worthwhile read.” (School Library Journal)
“Paul’s writing has a dreamlike quality that will keep readers wondering how much is imagined and how much is real.” (Publishers Weekly)
Top Customer Reviews
Jolene's popular and beautiful. Mattie's a nobody but all because she chose to be. Once upon a time, she was best friends with Jolene but after a game gone wrong (and more than a few "gone too far" moments) Mattie decides to walk away from Jolene, popularity, and everything that goes with it. But after one night at a bonfire, Mattie decides to take it all back.
The writing style and voice of this novel were beautiful. Every time I picked it up to read, I found myself sucked in. Most of the novel was a rush, a completely physical rush that even thinking about it now, I have to remind myself to 1... 2... 3... breathe because my heart rate picks up.
Practically everything about Mattie's life relates to Jolene. Even when Mattie isn't wrapped up in Jolene, she's doing things in spite of Jolene, making Mattie's entire character defined by her relationship to Jolene. Normally, that would aggravate me but not once did I feel like any of her actions were done for the sole purpose of creating drama, which is something I feel often when characters make bad decisions but not in Mattie's case. She was so overwhelmed by her relationship with Jolene that almost every decision she made felt authentic and true to her character.Read more ›
High school senior Mattie drags her BFF Kris (though they hate the term best friend) to an annual bonfire and an afterparty, the first time they've been out in over a year since The Incident which named them personas non grata. Behind the drama, Jolene, Mattie's toxic, all consuming, abusive former BFF. Jolene wants Mattie back and whatever Jolene wants, she manages to get no matter who gets hurt.
I wouldn't want Mattie as a friend, she's a passive user, ready to mold herself into whoever she chooses to befriend. She's selfish and unkind to Kris, almost as if waiting for someone better to come along. She chronically feels like a victim, when she and her decisions are the sources of her problems. Mattie obviously had some serious issues to be enthralled by Jolene's abuse, but she made having empathy for her difficult.
I never knew what to think about Jolene, when she was authentic, when she manipulated and whether Mattie's view of her frenemy was skewed by Mattie's own issues. Kris proved to be the most loyal friend and put up with much more than most. She was my favorite character.
When debut author Marcy Beller Paul used italics to describe Mattie's past and present feelings,the tension was palpable and I felt like I was experiencing Mattie's emotions. UNDERNEATH EVERYTHING completely loses pace when the topic switches to Mattie's obsession with maps. That subplot killed momentum. Paul would have been better off using an obsession like counting to show Mattie's anxieties, which would have added tension.
Plotwise, although Jolene was a special kind of friend from hell, not much actually happened. No aha moments. No twists. No real surprises and a lackluster ending.Read more ›
I don't normally go for YA contemporary fiction because I think most of the books out there are built from the same template with details and some plot changes added in. I wasn't sure what to expect from this book, but I'm so glad that I took a chance on it! I was immediately hooked from the first page and couldn't stop reading until I had finished the entire novel - which only took a few hours. The author did a fantastic job making the story feel as realistic as possible. The characters were all easy to identify with - especially Mattie, our leading lady. The entire plot of the book was written in a way that felt a bit like a mystery - it keep talking about the Mattie's past with her friends, notably Jolene, and hinting at the reason why she decided to walk away from everything that summer. I was intrigued at what the cause could have been - what could have happened between Mattie and Jolene that would make her shut out everyone basically overnight?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Such a beautifully-written novel. It was so different, and so incredibly tense. I felt like I was holding my breath the entire time I was reading. Read morePublished 24 days ago by Sharon R.
As an adult reading this novel, I was able to clearly and emotionally revisit the struggles from my teen years. Read morePublished 28 days ago by Shannon Christine
This is dark and twisty and gave me the chills in the best way. The author's dreamlike narration is hypnotizing and sweeps you up into this tale that keeps you second guessing... Read morePublished 1 month ago by L.A.G.
Seriously an awful, pointless book. Don't read. Such a waste of time.Published 2 months ago by Emily Coffey
Marcy Beller Paul's debut UNDERNEATH EVERYTHING is a sharp look at a twisted, toxic friendship. Mattie and Jolene obsessively lean on each other through everything, and even though... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Anita T.
This book had a great premise, to explore the toxicity and co-dependence of female friendships in High School, but it just fell flat to me. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Amy Oliver
On my first reading, I flew through this novel about relationships and (sometimes toxic) friendships because it was all so relatable and put me right back into my high school days. Read morePublished 5 months ago by MLRapp
Beautifully written and all kinds of messed up. Having had a toxic homoerotic friendship myself when I was a teenager, it was validating to see a fragment of my past reflected in... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Chasia Lloyd
I'm a little late with this review since I read this book a couple months ago but I'm still thinking about it. Read morePublished 6 months ago by January