Review: Underneath Everything by Marcy Beller Paul

Posted October 21, 2015 by lockhartbecca in Reviews / 2 Comments

Underneath Everything

Author: Marcy Beller Paul
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: YA Contemporary
Format: ebook
Release Date: October 27, 2015
Source: egalley received from publisher via Edelweiss
Rating: 3 Stars
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***I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way changed my opinion of the book. The review below is my open and honest opinion.***


Synopsis from Goodreads:


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.

My Review:


I’ve been in a bit of a contemporary slump lately, but this came up on my review schedule so I decided to give it a go and if it wasn’t working I would circle back to it later. But then it grabbed me and didn’t let go until the bitter end. This book is about something I think everyone will be able to relate to: toxic friendships. I think we’ve all been in a toxic friendship before. Where you’re perfect for each other, but horrible all at the same time. You think that person is your best friend, like you couldn’t survive without them, but really they’re hurting you, constantly. You might not have gone through the extreme circumstances Mattie and Jolene go through in this book, but I think we’ve all been there at some point. For me, this book was very relatable.


Mattie and Jolene are meant to be friends forever. Even when things drive them apart, they come back together. I was like this with a girl starting in middle school and pretty much all through high school. We would be best friends for a while, spend every second together and then would have a huge falling out and wouldn’t speak for weeks, sometimes months. But inevitably, we would come back together again and start the horrible cycle all over again. It was terrible, because when we were off, we were off. I remember the feelings of isolation, like I was missing a piece of myself so I definitely connected with Mattie as she struggled with knowing that Jolene is not a good person, but wanting/needing to be her friend again.


The book is extremely fast-paced and I got through it really quickly. My biggest complaint is definitely the ending. Things got a bit convoluted and I was a little lost during the final showdown between Mattie and Jolene. Jolene was saying things, Mattie was thinking things and I was wondering what the heck was actually going on and really who was at fault or who was the crazier one. But maybe that was the point. Maybe it was supposed to show that they’re both crazy and twisted and together, they can’t rationalize.


Is this a book that’s going to stay with me? No, probably not. I enjoyed it, but I didn’t love it. But I think that teens and adults alike will be able to relate to it and that’s what’s going to keep them turning the pages.


Have you read this one yet? What did you think? 

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2 responses to “Review: Underneath Everything by Marcy Beller Paul

  1. I agree with you! I liked that it was relatable — no matter what types of friendships you've had, I think you can see a piece of yourself or a friend in there — but it wasn't something that was going to stick with me. I think the characters fell a bit flat and it wasn't AS "omg" as I thought it was going to be.

    • Yes, I agree 100%. It was a quick read, but definitely not something that I will remember. And I expected the twists and such to be a little more shocking, but they were just kind of flat and I feel like everything unraveled so fast that I was a little lost for a bit at the end.

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