When I Am Through With You - Stephanie Kuehn
“This isn’t meant to be a confession. Not in any spiritual sense of the word. Yes, I’m in jail at the moment. I imagine I’ll be here for a long time, considering. But I’m not writing this down for absolution and I’m not seeking forgiveness, not even from myself. Because I’m not sorry for what I did to Rose. I’m just not. Not for any of it.”
Ben Gibson is many things, but he’s not sorry and he’s not a liar. He will tell you exactly about what happened on what started as a simple school camping trip in the mountains. About who lived and who died. About who killed and who had the best of intentions. But he’s going to tell you in his own time. Because after what happened on that mountain, time is the one thing he has plenty of.
I couldn't put this one down. I rarely can with Kuehn's work. I first became enthralled with her work when I read Charm & Strange and later, Complicit. Kuehn knows how to build tension and make readers guess, and she certainly doesn't shy away from material that some might consider controversial. As a researcher and psychologist, much of Kuehn's work looks at motivation, mental illness, and trauma, and When I Am Through With You is no exception.
Told through Ben Gibson's point of view and written as a journal while he sits in a juvenile detention facility, the novel explores what happens when a group of students and their teacher end up on a mountain climbing excursion, only to have everything fall apart when rumors of a hidden half-million dollars begin to circulate and one of the students, Archie, becomes obsessed with finding it, even if it means chaos and maybe even death.
At the same time, Ben is dealing with migraines brought on from a very traumatic experiences in his early years, after he shot his father and ended up in a car accident with his mother. His relationship with Rose seems to be slipping, though he's not sure why. As I noted earlier, Kuehn's work often explores motivation and what causes people to do the things they do, whether that be going on a hiking trip in the first place, or cheating on someone, or perhaps even shooting someone.
This book is packed with intrigue, mystery, danger, and hidden intentions. Everyone is guilty of something but nobody seems to want to admit anything either. Because the story is written as a journal, there is also the possibility of unreliability where Ben's narration is concerned. Readers who like a tidy ending might not be great fans of this one, but I think it's a fascinating story, and I definitely Recommend it!
(NOTE: This review is from an Advance Reading Copy - Out August 2017)