Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Strange but True” as Want to Read:
Strange but True
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Strange but True

3.52  ·  Rating Details ·  1,094 Ratings  ·  133 Reviews
After a mysterious fall from his Manhattan apartment, Philip Chase has moved home with his mother, Charlene, a bitter woman who has never fully accepted the death ofher younger son, Ronnie, five years earlier. Numb from watching too much TV and trading snipes with his mother, Philip is in stasis. But everything changes one winter night when Ronnie's high school girlfriend ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published June 14th 2005 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published January 1st 1997)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Strange but True, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Strange but True

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Sep 14, 2007 W. rated it it was ok
Kind of a creepy book until the ending...not really what I expected b/c description made the book sound more interesting than it was. Shallow reveals of all the characters...I wish the author delved into the surviving brother and the ex-girlfriend a little more- there was something interesting with both these characters.
Oct 06, 2008 Lori rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone with an open mind who enjoys a little bit of mystery
Very enjoyable up to this point. I'm about 100 pages in and it is pretty engrossing. I can't wait to find out what happens next. Already there is a lot of unpredictable story-lines that intermingle.

A little more than halfway through now and it's got quite a bit of foreshadowing. Once you think you know where one sub-plot is going he throws in a chapter cliffhanger and then moves on to one of the other sub-plots. But, I like that and it is definitely keeping me encouraged to get to the next part
Heather steff
Feb 03, 2009 Heather steff rated it did not like it
read like it was for a freshman lit class
Feb 12, 2009 Jill rated it it was ok
I picked this up as a bargain book, and I guess I got what I paid for. It doesn't take much to keep me reading, but at the end I was dissatisfied. A girl shows up on a woman's doorstep claiming she is pregnant with the woman's son's baby, but the son died five years ago. Not sci-fi, and not really engaging characters, nor an interesting setting.
May 17, 2012 brook rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: People who like Twilight
Shelves: could-not-finish gave this their novel of the year for 2004. It is a book of stereotyped characters that never escape their stereotypes:
Angry Mother Dealing With Loss
Closeted, Introverted Gay Son Who Runs Away From It All
All-Star Who Leaves The Family Stranded
Head Of The Family With A Terrible Secret
Good Girl Gone Bad

After 116 pages of what was still bland exposition interspersed with a few salacious passages put in, presumably, to keep the attention of the reader ("Oh, the author talked about the cond
Nov 16, 2009 Natasha. added it
Recommends it for: young adults
Recommended to Natasha. by: librarian
The part I enjoyed most about Strange but True by John Searles was that it was more mysterious then perceived from reading the caption at the back of the book. There were various places in the book that left you hanging and made you want to read on; that “there’s one more think you’ll want to see, far more disturbing then anything so far, behind the bathroom door. But as Melissa said to the baby on the car ride home: Not yet.” Searles just gave an absolutely intriguing line that makes you want t ...more
Nov 16, 2009 Jamesyang rated it it was amazing
Strange but true is a tragic teen romance part mystery. John Searles combines great writing, story, and plot to create a good read. Being a well written novel in the same threshold as James Patterson you will find yourself immersed in the book, looking for details and clues to try to solve for the mystery yourself. A key point in this book is that it uses many unexpected plot twists, that actually makes sense to the overall story line and does not seem forced or clichéd. One mystery forms into a ...more
Dec 03, 2009 Jessica rated it liked it
Strange, But True is a book about a teenager that has gotten pregnant with the thought that the baby inside of her is her dead boyfriend. This is hard to believe as well because the teenager that is pregnant got pregnant about five years after her boyfriend had passed away. Although this is a true fact, she still believes that it is his child no matter how long he has been gone. Even though I enjoyed reading the book, the ending was not my favourite. The reason for this is because I felt that th ...more
Mar 12, 2010 058815689 rated it liked it
Strange but True is a novel that explores the choices we must make in our lives, and their affects on the people around them. It is part mystery, tragedy and science fiction genre all put into three hundred and five outstandingly written pages that continually questions what you think you know. John Searles, national bestselling author of Boy Still Missing, brings us a story of real life, and suspenseful secrets.
It’s five years after the death of her high school boyfriend Ronnie Chase, and Mel
Mar 11, 2010 Franneh rated it it was amazing
Definitely one of the best novels I’ve ever read, ‘Strange but True’ by John Searles is a thrillingly eerie story shrouded in mysteries. It is full of beautiful malice and truthful criticism played out by real characters in situations that will wrench your heart out. Melissa Moody has become impregnated by, she believes, her dead boyfriend, Ronnie, although he has been gone for 5 years now. When she contacts Ronnie’s ever so critical mother and empathetic brother, they are all thrown into a jou ...more
May 08, 2011 Kaitlyn rated it really liked it
This book isn’t quite like anything I normally read. Phillip has a mysterious fall at his apartment in New York and moves back home with his mom. He has been gone for nearly five years. Five years ago his younger brother, Ronnie,was killed on prom night. One night during his stay at home, Melissa Moody (Ronnie’s girlfriend) shows up claiming she is pregnant with Ronnie’s child. Throughout the novel Phillip and his mother try to deal with all of the emotions this claim has brought up and they als ...more
Vins Bakalli
Oct 25, 2010 Vins Bakalli rated it it was amazing
Vins Bakalli
Mr. Best
October 25, 2010
My favourite book off all time, ‘Strange but True’ by John Searle’s is a book full of suspense and a novel that leaves you wanting much more. The book is full of dark secrets and events making you eager to turn the page. In general, this is an amazing book that I could read non-stop and I recommend this to anyone.
A girl named Melissa Moody, who is nine months pregnant with what she believes, is Ronnie Chase’s baby, but Ronnie is her dead boyfriend who die
Oct 25, 2010 Aaron rated it it was amazing
Strange But True- John Searles
This novel belongs to storytelling genre. It begins with characters’ pass and memories. But the author did not give a clear expression to it. It gives readers a mild impression. Readers know something bad happened before the story begins. At the same time of being mysterious, the author was also able to make things detailed. A little change can lead to a big change of the storyline. The characters are so vivid and lively. Just giving a brief background but massively
Jun 21, 2012 Ed rated it did not like it
Losing a child is the most unimaginably horrible thing that can happen to any parent and my heart goes out to anyone unfortunate enough to have gone through that ordeal. But man, I am really sick of seeing movies and reading books about it. From Ordinary People to In The Bedroom to Rabbit Hole which isn't even out yet, kids are dying left and right. Reading this book, it just knocked me over the head what a lazy, cheap narrative crutch it is. Dead kids now are what the Holocaust was in the 90's ...more
May 21, 2011 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Brief Description: Philip Chase has moved back home with his mother Charlene after suffering a fall from his New York apartment. Charlene, who never really recovered from the death of her youngest son Ronnie five years earlier, has turned into a bitter overeater—filled with anger at Ronnie’s death and her divorce from her husband Richard (who is now remarried). When Ronnie’s old girlfriend, Melissa Moody, shows up unexpectedly and tells Philip and Charlene that she is pregnant and she thinks Ron ...more
Erlyn Trinidad
Jun 21, 2011 Erlyn Trinidad rated it liked it
All right so I did try to finish the book and was successful in doing so in a matter of 5 days, that in itself is an achievement. The mystery about how a young girl in her 20s could become pregnant after 5 years at the time she had an intercourse, which, she claims to be the only time, would keep you from turning the pages to get to the end of the book. There's enough twists and turns on the book, to keep one from reading, but the build up on the pacing is rather slow.

The author is OC about inc
Rachel d.
Aug 14, 2011 Rachel d. rated it did not like it
If i had the option of awarding this self important little twit negative five stars i would have done so. No imagination, no character development beyond what was easy to write, and no grasp of what strange is. It is NOT strange to me that this is was a National Bestseller. Our Nation is full of people who will go out and buy this book. Which is why i stay in my house. Reading books that don't piss me off. Or, if they do its for very different reasons than "strange but true" did.
Nicole Perez
Oct 31, 2012 Nicole Perez rated it really liked it
Sometimes I read a book and think "I know exactly where this is going." This is not one of those times. I refuse to be spoilery in my reviews, so I'll say this: I love when characters who start out flawed seem to work things out. I need closure in a novel and I got it here. Not one bit of this book left me hanging. Just wish I would have read it sooner!
Mar 07, 2013 Misha rated it liked it
: This aptly titled novel plunges the reader headlong into an improbable situation. Five years after Ronnie Chase's death in a prom-night automobile accident, his girlfriend, Melissa, finds herself miraculously pregnant with Ronnie's baby. The fractured Chase family doesn't know what to believe upon hearing this disturbing news. Mr. Chase has remarried; his ex-wife, Charlene, is a bitter, broken woman; and their remaining son, Philip, is back at home with his mother and recovering from a nasty f ...more
Feb 17, 2015 Cyndy rated it liked it
Although this was a fairly interesting story, the author stretches poetic license just a bit too much. Aside from the far-fetched pregnancy circumstance, the "unnoticed" rape was just too hard to believe. Melissa is scarred both physically and mentally from a car accident that took her boyfriend's life and 5 years later she's unstable and pregnant when she shows up at her dead boyfriend's parents house (minus the father who is gone). The story in between keeps the reader interested, no doubt, bu ...more
Sep 06, 2013 Rosemary rated it it was amazing
Had me on the edge of my seat - like a Hitchcock movie!
Dec 23, 2013 Rose rated it really liked it
This book was a fascinating read from start to finish. There is a sort of supernatural component involved, which may turn some people off; but soon after that component is introduced, the protagonist presents a possible scientific explanation for it, which I think is enough to persuade a skeptic to continue on with the book.

So, here's the premise: Philip Chase has come home under mysterious circumstances to live with his divorced mother, a woman still bitter and grieving over the death of Philip
Jan 27, 2014 Selina rated it really liked it
This was a very compelling book from the start. We have a wide array of characters, and all of them come through incredibly clearly. Their voices are each unique, even though the POV is 3rd person.

I loved the flowing of the story. We knew things were happening and we wanted to know why. I was a bit disappointed with the ending. It felt a bit abrupt. I would have liked to have seen more, but that is typical of my reading personality.

I did feel like I kept waiting for the story to really start. I
Oct 22, 2014 Sheri rated it liked it
This was okay. Things have been busy around here and so it took me about a day too long to read, but that was not the books fault. It was actually rather perfect in that it did not take much thought or energy and was easy to pick up and put down as necesary.

The story itself was a bit of a surprise, I was expecting more of a character and less of a plot piece; but as noted it kept my interest. It is the first book in a really long time that I have read without making any highlights or notes. It w
Feb 03, 2015 Craig rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 06, 2014 Jocelyn rated it liked it
I read this book after reading Searles's "Help for the Haunted", which may be why I am rating it lower than it should be. In all, a three and a half star book. Searles knows how to write well, his sentences and stories are complex, and his characters make decisions that affect the course of the plot. The descriptions of depression and loss felt completely true to me, as well as the irrational hatred of Charlene, Philip's mother, towards anyone who was able to move on with their lives when her go ...more
India Lopez
Apr 25, 2016 India Lopez rated it really liked it
As I was reading Strange but True, I kept coming back to the image of a braid.
When you’re braiding someone’s hair, you start with three strands. You twist two of them together at the same time as pulling the third one free, and you do this over and over, so one strand is always loose.
That’s what John Searles does with this book – he creates loose ends and then ties them up at the same time as creating more loose ends. His skilful plotting means there’s never a moment in the book when the reader
Jun 07, 2016 Carol rated it really liked it
This tale is told through quirky characters, lots of flashbacks and excellent writing. The plot zigs and zags to reveal how Philip fell from his fourth floor apartment, the details leading up to his brother's death, his mother's fall into obesity and hate afterward, but mostly about the claim that his brother's date on that fateful prom night that she is pregnant with the brother's child! I was worried it was going to turn into a Stephen King novel, with some unbelievable event, but just like a ...more
Megan Andrews
Jul 03, 2016 Megan Andrews rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 30, 2016 Suzanne rated it liked it
Strange But True is based on an intriguing premise. A family suffers the tragic loss of a favored and popular son in a prom night car crash. Years later, the girlfriend, who was disfigured in that crash, comes back into the lives of the family and opens a Pandora's box of mysteries. I would give it a 4.5 stars for the story itself. However, the author makes some lazy and amateurish writing mistakes, like repeating the same descriptor for particular characters. The writing brings down my rating. ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Never Tell a Lie
  • What to Keep: A Novel
  • Filthy Rich
  • The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman
  • Tell No One
  • Cheat and Charmer
  • Meg's Confession
  • The Blackbird Papers
  • Property: The True Story of a Polygamous Church Wife
  • The Liar's Diary
  • Night Swimming
  • Lessons in Laughing Out Loud
  • A Blessed Event
  • Woods and Waters Wild (Collected Early Stories, book 3)
  • House Of Girls
  • Moriarty Returns a Letter (Baker Street Letters, #4)
  • Have You No Shame?: And Other Regrettable Stories
  • Buffalo Lockjaw
John Searles is the author of the best-selling novels Boy Still Missing and Strange But True. John appears regularly as a book critic on NBC’s Today Show and has also appeared on CBS’s The Early Show, Live! With Regis & Kelly and CNN to discuss his favorite book selections. His essays have been published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Daily Beast and other national publication ...more
More about John Searles...

Share This Book