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Strange but True

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  1,430 ratings  ·  161 reviews
Beautifully written and charged with a sublime wit, the novel brings to vibrant life a cast of characters that no reader will forget.

After a mysterious fall from his New York City apartment, Philip Chase has moved back home with his mother, Charlene, a bitter woman who has never fully accepted the death of her younger son, Ronnie, five years earlier. Numb from watching too
Paperback, 336 pages
Published June 14th 2005 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published July 1st 2004)
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3.54  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,430 ratings  ·  161 reviews

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Dec 10, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: am-i-thrilled
I read Strange but True because I saw it was picked up by a movie studio to be turned into a film.

After reading it, I can see the filmic possibilities but I hope they make the characters a lot less unlikeable and more interesting.

** Minor spoilers ahead **

Philip has returned to his hometown in PA to live with his mother after surviving a near fatal fall at his apartment in New York.

Five years ago, his brother, Ronnie, was killed in a horrific car crash and his mother is still mourning his
Nicole Perez
Oct 18, 2012 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!
Nov 16, 2009 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 09, 2010 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
Mar 11, 2010 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
Nov 04, 2009 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
Feb 12, 2009 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.
Jul 16, 2007 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.
Aug 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A thrilling ride

This is a hard book to describe without spoiling stuff. Suffice it say that Strange But True starts off as a melancholy examination of grief and slowly builds into a page-turning thriller. It is a gripping read.
Erlyn Lazaro
Jun 21, 2011 rated it did not like 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
Heather steff
Feb 03, 2009 rated it did not like it
read like it was for a freshman lit class
Cherise Wolas
Published years ago, this novel is going to become a movie. It's a family story that is part drama, part mystery, part serial killer in action. 5 years ago, Ronnie, the Chases' second son and golden child, and his high school girlfriend, Melissa Moody, are in a car accident after the high school prom. Ronnie is killed and Melissa is severely injured. Now, five years later, the eldest son, Philip Chase, a poetry-writing lost soul, has returned home to Pennsylvania as he recovers from an accident. ...more
Aug 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook
A friend sent me link to the movie trailer and I was like, if this is a book I would want to read it and voila! turns out there is.
I thoroughly enjoyed the action, thriller and the movement of the story. This is one of those books that's pretty hard to put down once you get started. All characters are interesting and i found myself rooting for them. I only wish the story ended with more definite closure.
Aug 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting but twisted plot - not at all like I thought it would be...
Nov 16, 2009 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
Jan 08, 2014 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
Mar 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
Last year I had the chance to speak with John Searles about his new book. After that, he sent my book club a selection of his favorite books along with his two previous books. I finally decided to read one of those that he sent and I am so glad I did. I enjoyed the twists and turns of the book. It was interesting how it went back in forth in time and with different characters, yet it all flowed very nicely. I loved seeing how the characters grew and changed, especially Charlene. I would recommen ...more
Rachel d.
Aug 06, 2011 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.
Despite being told mostly or entirely in the present tense, this book did not suck. Also, this is a very good example of non-linear storytelling without making a confusing mess. From varying perspectives, no less. Without saying "5 years earlier, by Melissa" or whatever --the writing effectively showed the reader when and who instead of having to tell. Gold star.

As for the reading, funny story about that. I went into this book blind, probably having picked it up at a garage sale or Goodwill, fe
May 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
A great read. Searles never disappoints. This is a story of suspense but infused with wit and mystery. The cast of characters is this novel are so well written and so interesting. Philip must confront his past along with his mother and this journey is filled with many ups and downs. When Ronnie's high school girl friend shows up and drops her bombshell, I was sucked in. I couldn't put this one down.
Kailyn Piva
Aug 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read this book when I was about 17 years old because I found an excerpt from it in a cosmo magazine and it lured me in. I think it was the first book I’d ever read with such raw, heavy content. Like watching your first R-rated movie, the shock factor is what had me hooked. It was interesting and suspenseful and definitely left me thinking about it long after finishing it.
Aug 19, 2017 rated it liked it
What a weird book. The beginning had me so confused and I didn't like any of the characters. And I especially disliked Charlene - but then, after she met Pilia and decided to turn her life around, she actually became my favorite character in the book, go figure. And I cried when we found out the truth about Donnelly, that was so sad it had me actually sobbing.
Lindsey Kyle
Aug 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really loved this novel. I enjoy how this starts off as there is no way this is real and becomes very real so quick. The characters are so real and I enjoy how the act with each other in very authentic way. I enjoyed the twist and turns in the novel and the different narrations. Do yourself a favor and read this book.
Aug 21, 2019 marked it as did-not-finish
I wanted to read this because I watched the trailer of the upcoming movie adaptation of this book but I DNF at 30%. I didn't like the writing style and none of the characters were likable. The author included too much details in his writing that it bored me to death and I ended up skipping up an entire chapter because it just wasn't relevant to the story. I hope the movie turns out better.
Sandy Samuel
May 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ending needs work

This is a sad but riveting book. The ending, however, leaves too many questions unanswered. I still enjoyed it though.
Elisa Alexander
Aug 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Simplistic. Sad. Strange. Fast easy read tho.
Jul 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good read

Didn't stop reading until I was finished. Looking forward to his other books as this was my second of his.
S. Mac Donald
Feb 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Definitely some twists. I hope that the movie is just as good.
Melody Stiles
Mar 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved it. There is something very Ivingesque about his writing. I’m a now a huge fan. Too bad he’s only written three books.
Penny Van Horn
Aug 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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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