by Marcy Beller Paul
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: October 27th 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, LGBTQ+, Realistic Fiction
Rate: 4 Stars
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Mattie shouldn’t be at the bonfire. She should be finding new maps for her collection, hanging out with Kris, and steering clear of almost everyone else, especially Jolene. After all, Mattie and Kris dropped off the social scene the summer after sophomore year for a reason.
But now Mattie is a senior, and she’s sick of missing things. So here she is.
And there’s Jolene: Beautiful. Captivating. Just like the stories she wove. Mattie would know; she used to star in them. She and Jolene were best friends. Mattie has the scar on her palm to prove it, and Jolene has everything else, including Hudson.
But when Mattie runs into Hudson and gets a glimpse of what could have been, she decides to take it all back: the boyfriend, the friends, the life she was supposed to live. Problem is, Mattie can’t figure out where Jolene ends and she begins.
Because there’s something Mattie hasn’t told anyone—she walked away from Jolene over a year ago, but she never really left.
Poignant and provocative, Marcy Beller Paul’s debut novel tells the story of an intoxicating—and toxic—relationship that blurs the boundary between reality and fantasy, love and loyalty, friendship and obsession.
Whether it was the lyrical or rhythmic way in which Marcy Beller Paul coursed Mattie’s unique story, I am sincerely grateful and in awe, that Underneath Everything was my first official Blog Tour book.
Mattie, the main character is quiet, calculative and extremely self aware with the people in her life. Even with her closest, tethering companion, Kris—whom she isn’t suppose to hold anything from—but she does.
And it is the small bread crumbs of the past that Mattie gives the reader as she not only recalls, but relives, over and over again, that kept me drawn to this story. Getting further and further into this story and realizing how cinched and interwoven Mattie was to Jolene, I started to realize just how addictive, yet toxic their relationship was.
The reader will watch as Mattie comes to grips with facing her past, the present and the future while she tries to get her barring over true friendship, love and the makings of her reality vs. the one around her as a result of her longing to be inimitable rather, “something new.”
The events that transpire between the main characters, Mattie, Jolene, Kris and Belle do push the dark boundaries in the book, but I felt that they were areas that needed to be explored to illustrate the serious, intense and dangerous realm that Kris and Mattie were so adamant about leaving behind*.
Likewise, Mattie and Jolene’s relationship borders a level of intimacy that goes beyond “friends,” which I think speaks to Mattie’s inner compass trying to tell her something she may not be aware of yet.
The poetic, literary narrative in which the story is told will make the reader fall that much more in love with the book’s main theme: knowing yourself/truly knowing who you are. (More or less) When you read Underneath Everything, you not only gain a better understanding of how and why Mattie still thinks, sees, hears and pines after a person who she knows, deep down in her gut is wrong for her, but also why she can’t seem to stop herself.
I have never been in such an intense, or toxic relationship as the one Jolene and Mattie have, but after reading this book I feel like I’ve lived through one. I really enjoyed the way Marcy not only exposed the reader to such a multifarious, condensed and rich topic, but also the way she exposes Mattie all the way down to her core. Thus, that in the end, Mattie is the one to save herself, see herself and love herself.
I recommend Underneath Everything for anyone who has been in a relationship or a friendship that was so gripping or suffocating that you thought there would never be a light at the end of the tunnel. A tether to someone with a pull so strong you feel you might never be able to cut that cord. A feeling of being so lost or so disconnected from who you are, on an unlit path, that you worry if you’ll ever find your way again.
Underneath Everything will take you on a string of emotions from start to finish, but it is one heck of a ride. 🙂
**(Side note: I have seen friends push the limits to be seen, to be remembered, to be popular or the center of attention over the years in school, so I didn’t feel all that all of the situations or actions that took place in this book were impossible to fathom.)
There were so many amazing lines and quotes from this book and I really wish I could share them all, alas I cannot. Therefore, I strongly encourage you to give this book a read. ❤ Be sure to enter the Book Giveaway below and follow the rest of the blog tour ^__^.
She graduated from Harvard University and lives in New Jersey with her husband and two children. Underneath Everything will be published by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins, in Fall 2015. It is her first novel.
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