Girl on the Verge by Pintip Dunn – Book Review

Title: Girl on the Verge

Author: Pintip Dunn

Genre/Themes: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller

Blurb from Goodreads

How far would you go to belong?

In her small Kansas town, at her predominantly white school, Kanchana doesn’t look like anyone else. But at home, her Thai grandmother chides her for being too westernized. Only through the clothing Kan designs in secret can she find a way to fuse both cultures into something distinctly her own.

When her mother agrees to provide a home for a teenage girl named Shelly, Kan sees a chance to prove herself useful. Making Shelly feel comfortable is easy at first—her new friend is eager to please, embraces the family’s Thai traditions, and clearly looks up to Kan. Perhaps too much. Shelly seems to want everything Kanchana has, even the blond, blue-eyed boy she has a crush on. As Kan’s growing discomfort compels her to investigate Shelly’s past, she’s shocked to find how much it intersects with her own—and just how far Shelly will go to belong…

My Review

Girl on the Verge is a difficult book to review. Or at least it is for me because sadly I did not enjoy the reading experience.

This is a YA mystery/thriller about two young girls who both feel like outsiders and become instant friends.

And initially I was taken in by the story: the setup was nicely done and it looked to be a promising easy read. But after about 15% through the book I found myself getting bored by the storyline and increasingly frustrated by the actions of the main character.

Kan is a Thai-American teenage girl and from the start she was immensely likeable. She was a girl lost somewhere between two cultures and always unsure of herself socially but privately she was a girl with a clear vision of who she wanted to be, what she wanted to do with her studies etc.

But soon after the introduction of the secondary character Shelly things took a turn for the worse with both characters becoming little more than pastiches of themselves.

The main plot-line was entirely derivative of other thrillers. In some aspects this novel had something of a B-movie quality to it and I decided to treat it as a popcorn sort of book; something very light and frivolous almost.

However, the ending destroyed that for me. Instead of leaving the reader with a sense of wanting more everything was over-explained leaving no room for a little much-needed supposition. I’m not saying this needed an ambiguous ending but this went overboard on the elucidation!

I very much enjoyed reading about the Thai culture of Kan and really do appreciate how diverse and inclusive the Girl on the Verge was, but sadly there was too much here that I did not like.


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