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Unbecoming

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3.39  ·  Rating details ·  8,043 ratings  ·  1,087 reviews
On the grubby outskirts of Paris, Grace restores bric-a-brac, mends teapots, re-sets gems. She calls herself Julie, says she’s from California, and slips back to a rented room at night. Regularly, furtively, she checks the hometown paper on the Internet. Home is Garland, Tennessee, and there, two young men have just been paroled. One, she married; the other, she’s in love ...more
Hardcover, 308 pages
Published January 22nd 2015 by Viking
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Average rating 3.39  · 
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 ·  8,043 ratings  ·  1,087 reviews


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karen
Oct 08, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: free-from-work
3.5

this book is a little cocktail mix of Gone Girl and The Goldfinch with a little garnish of The Talented Mr. Ripley. but it lacks the sociopathic oomph of gg or ripley and, well, it's not written by donna tartt. but despite the snouts of influence poking up here and there, it has things that are all its own, and it's a good read for those original elements, even if the ones i appreciated most were details about the character and not necessarily things that were driving the plot.

but yes - plot
...more
Blair
Unbecoming comes with one of those blurbs that make me feel a bit sorry for the book and the author, because there was - and I did say this when I first mentioned it (in my what to read in 2015 blog post) - absolutely no way the book was ever going to live up to it. It's described as 'an intricately plotted and psychologically nuanced heist novel', 'with echoes of Alfred Hitchcock and Patricia Highsmith', 'sure to entrance fans of Gillian Flynn, Marisha Pessl, and Donna Tartt'. Even one of these ...more
Dianne
Apr 18, 2015 rated it liked it
I don't know what to make of this book or how to describe it. I thought it was a heist thriller, but it's a lot more complicated than that. It's a mixture of a thriller, a psychological character study and a family drama. Truthfully, it's an uneasy marriage of the three; I am not quite sure Scherm successfully pulled it off. I loved it at first and couldn't tear myself away, but it slowly wore me down. By the end, I just wanted to be done with the book and the characters. Blah blah blah....end t ...more
Jill
Jan 09, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery, netgalley
So the Unbecoming details the construction, deconstruction, and reconstruction of a girl following a failed heist. Shame that I’m not one for a heist novel because the story’s founding ideas are solid; its flashy plot, however, is not.

What we have is a love story. Grace has a childhood sweetheart whom she intends to love forever until her growing up reveals different, contradictory intentions. She’s faced with a question I ask myself a lot lately: at what age can we finally assume that the pers
...more
Rob Slaven
Dec 18, 2014 rated it did not like it
As is very almost always the case, I received this book free in exchange for a review. Despite the kindness of receiving a free book I'm absolutely candid about the book because I want everyone to know what they're getting as much as I hope to when I'm shopping.

The nutshell view of this book is that is is largely a character sketch of a kleptomaniac. The narrative is inverted, starting in the center and winding backwards through the events that led up to the beginning. Then with about 1/3 of the
...more
Snotchocheez
May 12, 2015 rated it liked it
2.5 stars

Rebecca Scherm's debut novel Unbecoming cannot escape comparison to Donna Tartt's Pulitzer Prize winner The Goldfinch, with the young, morally confused protagonists, the antique restoration/art heist/forgery plot, and the circumnavigated settings (Paris by way of NYC and Garland, Tennessee). Whether a coincidence or by design, it almost seems like a calculated effort by Ms. Scherm to replicate Ms. Tartt's success.

That's not the reason for my middling rating, though. While I liked The
...more
Taryn
Jan 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I may need to seek out more heist novels, because I ate up Unbecoming like it was dessert. Grace is an American living in Paris, working in antiques repair. Her coworkers know her as Julie from California, but she's actually from Garland, Tennessee. Back home, two men are being paroled after serving time for a crime Grace masterminded.

It's only a matter of time before they catch up to her.

Scherm builds suspense by telling Grace's story out of order, flashing between her calm-on-the-outside life
...more
Cathie
Oct 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
It has been a while that I have read a novel such as this.

Grace takes us on her journey as she leaves Garland Tennessee and heads to New York and Prague, and then transforms herself as Julie from California residing in Paris.

She of course leaves more than just her hometown. She leaves her husband she’s known since grade school, her family she never was close with, her husbands’ family she’s always thought she was a part of until, after a few too many mishaps, realizes she never was and never wil
...more
Shelby
Sep 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
The plot of this book has been compared to those of authors such as Gillian Flynn & Marisha Pessl; I do not disagree, but in my opinion this book did not live up to these expectations in terms of the dark and the mysterious. I did enjoy this book however, and towards the end of the story I could not put the book down. The title is concise and suits the story of Grace perfectly. At some points I sympathized with Grace and really understood the situations she was dealing with, including her relati ...more
Stuti (Turmeric isn't your friend. It will fly your ship
First book I've read and finished in a long while so I'm wholly, incorrigibly grateful to someone.

Unbecoming A Novel tries to get across as a novel of grandiose, I think, but inside is a story in complete contrast. The characters try to come off as players in the major leagues, but their dynamics are simpler, motivations clearer than you'd expect. There's a twisted sort of homeliness,- or longing for it - as opposed to mind-fucks and coziness, that worked for me. It's where the genius lies.

The
...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Sep 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
I received this from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review. It had a cool cover and sounded different than my normal read so I went for it.

Someone I follow described this as Gone Girl meets The Goldfinch, and while I usually try not to describe books through other books, it was just so accurate I had to steal her idea. It has the pace and slowly unveiling plot of both books, with a questionable female narrator and the subject of art. I think people who were fans of either of those boo
...more
Elizabeth
Jun 01, 2015 rated it liked it
There is a lot I liked about this book. The coming-of-age part of the story was strongest. That time in life when you are still forming is always such a compelling read. As an only child I identified with Grace and Alls who both wanted the type of family and security that Riley had in spades. I get it. As a child I loved spending time with my friends who had big families. The chaos, the noise, the carpools, the mess. Our house was generally quiet and orderly. My parents worked. It was way more f ...more
Cathy Cole
Nov 07, 2014 rated it did not like it
This is a novel that I tried very hard to like, but in the end I just couldn't. Unbecoming comes wrapped up in all sorts of "hints" and "echoes": Hitchcock (well, one of his movies is mentioned a couple of times), Highsmith (I do see the connection between Tom Ripley and Grace), and Gillian Flynn, who's currently flavor of the month. Perhaps I should've heeded my inner alarm when I saw Flynn's name because I couldn't get past the first twenty-five pages of Gone Girl. I didn't pay attention; howe ...more
Amanda
Oct 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Probably more like 3.5 but just because it got off to a really slow start and because I wanted to punch the narrator in the face a couple of times. No not really but she is a bit annoying especially in the beginning. That being once I got started I really couldn't put it down and once you hit the halfway point it's really a race to the finish to see what happens.

Julie rents a room in a dilapidated house outside of Paris. She repairs antiques, mostly things no one else wants. She is loner and has
...more
Lacey
*I won this book through goodreads' first reads.

This is the most thoroughly bland book I've read in a long time. It has a lot of potential, and it tries really hard but in the end, for me, it's just . . . bland. The concept is good, the writing is more than adequate, the characters are believable . . . but it just doesn't quite work for me. Perhaps it's the almost entirely inaccurate description that lead me to enter the giveaway in the first place - this book is being billed as a thrilling heis
...more
Kim McGee
Oct 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Everyone who gets the chance to reinvent themselves thinks this time will be different - I will look prettier, be smarter, be more popular and yet we always come back to where we began. Grace, codename Julie, is working as an antique restorer in an underpaid and less than glamorous shop that gives her the one thing she needs - a place to hide. Once in a place far away she was the perfect young girl who dated the most popular boy in school. They were the golden couple and along with Riley's frien ...more
Jan
Jan 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
3.5 stars


All for a Mother's love:
"Without his Mother's love, Grace's love for Riley was wearing thin, but it was all she had to wear."

Solid debut from author Rebecca Schern, although I can see why there are such mixed reviews about it.
This is a tough one to catagorize as it's not a psychological thriller (didn't get the relation to Gone Girl at all) but not a true mystery either. I think the underlying foundation throughout the whole storyline is about love and what it is and how it means differ
...more
Footprints
Oct 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
A gritty novel with an ambitious development of unlikeable (unbecoming?) characters. It was so refreshing to have unlikeable main characters without them being sociopaths, but still want to know what happens in the end. A masterful character study couched in a crime novel!

advanced reading copy
Kasey
Oct 09, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Rebecca Scherm's debut novel enters into a lively subgenre of literary fiction: narratives about artistic forgery, theft, and black-market trafficking. Think of Patricia Highsmith's Ripley Underground, Peter Carey's Theft, Siri Hustvedt's What I Loved, Elizabeth Kostova's Swan Thief, and, most recently, Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch. And I am a sucker for this stuff! I think it's because I'm a professor in the beleaguered humanities. These novels let me indulge in the fantasy that art objects are ...more
Stephanie
Feb 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow! I REALLY enjoyed this. I read it as an audiobook on my commute and I just couldn't wait for the next time I jumped in my car. Scherm's first novel, and an excellent debut. Unbecoming centres around Grace, a girl from small-town Tennessee, who feels she doesn't belong in her own family, and instead embraces her boyfriend's. Her boyfriend from age 12. Yep, small town. They have their life planned: college (art, art history), jobs (artist, museum, cashier), marriage, kids, until Grace begins t ...more
Allie
Mar 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015-books
I chose this book to ease myself back into reading, after taking an unintentional month long break. It was another ARC picked up at my husband's work. I think the cover drew me in.

It is a book with an appropriate title. It is about a young woman named Grace, and her unbecoming. Unbecoming herself, unbecoming the false presentation of herself to the world, and unbecoming people's expectations of her.

It is written in different chunks of time, separated by the location. I Garland. II New York. II
...more
Offbalance
Dec 31, 2014 rated it did not like it
Marketers of the Publishing World, beware: Do not invoke Gone Girl in your descriptive copy of a book. I understand the temptation, I really do, especially since GG was such a blockbuster. I also understand because Amy Dunne is such an indelible, incredible character, you want to believe that this manuscript that you either truly loved or simply didn't make you want to self-injure is in the same sphere as Gillian Flynn's masterpiece. However, this is not. It's sad when a potentially interesting ...more
Candace Hinkle
Nov 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
I had this as an advanced reader from work (it is released in January), and I really loved it. The main character is a thief and a liar, but that's not why you will hate her. You will hate her because she is so believable as a character that you will imagine yourself capable of her crimes, and loathe yourself for it while reading. I love books that worm their way into your head like that. I thought this was lovely and nuanced, and by the end you are rooting for her despite yourself.
Bill Kupersmith
Jan 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Grace in Unbecoming ranks alongside Megan Abbott’s Beth in Dare Me & Elizabeth Little’s Jane in Dear Daughter in the premier league of the bad girls club. If she could have replaced Theo as the principal character, The Goldfinch might well have been the best novel to appear in my lifetime. Tho’ Rebecca Scherm cannot match Donna Tartt’s sweep, scope, & mastery of prose & pathos, the sheer intensity of Unbecoming simply carried me away. I was continually on edge with concern for Grace, and identif ...more
Margaret
Aug 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
With strong echoes of The Goldfinch, another interesting combination of heist & literary fiction. A young woman (Grace by birth, Julie by fleeing criminal choice) has escaped to Paris, under an assumed name, having effectively gone to ground after an historic house in her hometown is robbed, a former boyfriend/partner/human-she-was-involved-with in prison as well as his accomplices. Tracing her background and involvement with not just her future partners-in-crime but the whole class boundary bet ...more
Book Riot Community
I picked this book up because the title/cover caught my attention and I started reading it not knowing a thing about it. I was delighted to discover it’s the type of book that gives you little crumbs along the way, just enough mystery to keep you turning the page. It starts with Grace living in Paris, pretending to be someone else, working for a restorer (jewelry/antiques) and flashes back to her teens up until she fled to Europe from the U.S. Soon you realize pretending is what Grace does, beco ...more
Betsey Geier
Nov 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Unbecoming is the perfect novel for someone who is tired of reading traditional "coming of age" stories. In fact, it can be argued that Scherm's novel is an anti-coming-of-age story. In stead of discovering who she really is, Grace learns to reinvent herself into several different personas.
In some ways, Unbecoming reminded me of USA's White Collar. If is a fast-paced adventure that will leave you wondering what Grace will do next. Read the rest of my review on my website.
Josie
Apr 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
now taking recs for more books with protagonists who are both irredeemable & female. this was fantastic ...more
The Lit Bitch
Jan 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The novel is told in somewhat dueling story lines…..first the story of ‘Julie’ who works as an antique restorer and keeps to herself, and the other is the story of Grace who eventually became ‘Julie’.

OK I know this sounds complicated but it’s actually not to hard to follow in the story. For me, I liked Grace’s story much better than the ‘Julie’ parts. While the ‘Julie’ parts were interesting in their own right, I wanted to know how she actually got to that point.

The Grace back story was what kep
...more
Katie/Doing Dewey
Jan 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book has been compared to Patricia Highsmith's  The Talented Mr. Ripley , but I thought it was so much better. This book is what The Talented Mr. Ripley should have been. In both books, the main character is something of an anti-hero, longing to have a life that's not theirs so desperately that they'll do anything to achieve it. The difference in the two stories is that Rebecca Scherm actually managed to make her character relatable. When reading The Talented Mr. Ripley, I never felt any ...more
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Rebecca Scherm is the author of Unbecoming, a novel. She received her MFA from the University of Michigan, where she was also a postgraduate Zell Fellow. She lives in Michigan, where she is working on her second novel, Beta.
Find her on Twitter @SchermUndDrang

2/26/20: I've just signed into my GR author profile for the first time since creating it, so apologies that I didn't respond to your notes!
...more

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