Summary and book reviews of Complicit by Stephanie Kuehn

Complicit

By Stephanie Kuehn

Complicit
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Hardcover: Jun 2014,
    256 pages.

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Book Reviewed by:
Sarah Tomp

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Book Summary

Two years ago, sixteen-year-old Jamie Henry breathed a sigh of relief when a judge sentenced his older sister to juvenile detention for burning down their neighbor's fancy horse barn. The whole town did. Because Crazy Cate Henry used to be a nice girl. Until she did a lot of bad things. Like drinking. And stealing. And lying. Like playing weird mind games in the woods with other children. Like making sure she always got her way. Or else. But today Cate got out. And now she's coming back for Jamie.

Because more than anything, Cate Henry needs her little brother to know this one simple truth: She's not the crazy one and never has been.

When reading Complicit, trust nothing and no one as you race toward the explosive conclusion of this gripping psychological thriller from the William C. Morris Award - winning author of Charm & Strange.

ONE

My phone is ringing.

It's 3:29.

In the morning.

The phone keeps ringing. Or not ringing really—the Monk song I have programmed is what's playing, and the notes, the beat, sound sort of sad, sort of mournful, against the bleak-black December night. I groan and fumble around in the sheets. I like to be prepared, so I sleep with my phone beneath my pillow just in case someone calls. No one ever does, of course.

Except for now.

More fumbling, but my fingers find the phone at last. I slide it out and hold it in front of my face. My eyes are bleary and my brain slow, but what I'm seeing on the touch screen finally registers:

Unknown caller.

Okay.

I answer.

"Hello?" I say.

Nothing. I hear nothing.

"Who is this?"

No response, but I press the phone closer to my ear. No one speaks, but I hear something. I do. Short feral bursts of noise. Organic. Like a faint sobbing.

Or laughing.

"Hey," I say, a little louder than before. I want to make sure that I'm heard. "I know you're ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Is Jamie a sympathetic character? Is Cate?

  2. Why is Jamie so anxious about Cate getting out of juvenile detention? Do you think it was fair of his parents to keep it a secret from him?

  3. Under what circumstances do Jamie's hands start to go numb? What do you think is the significance of this?

  4. What role does memory play in this story? Can you always rely on your memories to be true?

  5. Do you think Jamie has a good relationship with his adoptive parents? Why doesn't Cate?

  6. In what ways does Jamie start to uncover clues about his past? How do they change your perception of him?

  7. What role did poverty play in the circumstances of Jamie and Cate's early childhood?

  8. What does Cate want from Jamie when she comes back? Is ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse

Complicit definitely falls into the genre of psychological thriller; there is never any doubt that Jamie is on the edge of madness. The novel feels like an authentic look at the battle with mental illness; one can see what it might be like to lose one's ability to interpret and make sense of the world.   (Reviewed by Sarah Tomp).

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Media Reviews
Kirkus

Vivid characterization and Jamie's sharply observed narration lend credibility to the proceedings and divert attention from a few holes in the logic.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. The prose is as hallucinatory as the madness Jamie seeks to uncover in a novel that's tense and ambiguous from start to finish.

Booklist

Starred Review. Kuehn writes with the fleetness of a trained thriller author...Her confidence is what's so invigorating: every page makes a firm, surprising choice, whether you like it or not...Explosive.

School Library Journal

Starred Review. Complicit ensnares readers from the first page with its surprising twists and revelations. Recommend it to fans of psychological thrillers.

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Conversion Disorder

Jamie Henry, the narrator of Complicit is given many diagnoses and explanations for the physiological symptoms he fights on a daily basis. At one point he is told that he has Conversion Disorder which seems to explain many of his troubles, including the paralysis of his hands when facing a stressful situation.

Conversion Disorder is a type of Somatoform Disorder — a mental illness where an individual reveals psychological stress in physical ways. (For related information about Somatization, please refer to Beyond the Book for One Doctor). There is a wide range of severity and frequency within this diagnosis. The symptom could be as simple as a stomach ache or as complex and limiting as complete paralysis. There is no clear ...

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