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What I Want You to See

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Winning a scholarship to California’s most prestigious art school seems like a fairy tale ending to Sabine Reye’s awful senior year. After losing both her mother and her home, Sabine longs for a place where she belongs.

But the cutthroat world of visual arts is nothing like what Sabine had imagined. Colin Krell, the renowned faculty member whom she had hoped would mentor her, seems to take merciless delight in tearing down her best work—and warns her that she’ll lose the merit-based award if she doesn’t improve.

Desperate and humiliated, Sabine doesn’t know where to turn. Then she meets Adam, a grad student who understands better than anyone the pressures of art school. He even helps Sabine get insight on Krell by showing her the modern master’s work in progress, a portrait that’s sold for a million dollars sight unseen.

Sabine is enthralled by the portrait; within those swirling, colorful layers of paint is the key to winning her inscrutable teacher’s approval. Krell did advise her to improve her craft by copying a painting she connects with . . . but what would he think of Sabine secretly painting her own version of his masterpiece? And what should she do when she accidentally becomes party to a crime so well -plotted that no one knows about it but her?

Complex and utterly original, What I Want You to See is a gripping tale of deception, attraction, and moral ambiguity.

384 pages, Hardcover

First published February 4, 2020

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About the author

Catherine Linka

4 books127 followers
A passionate traveler, Catherine loves to visit wild landscapes like Iceland, the Amazon, Patagonia, the Arctic circle and the Australian outback. Catherine has seen 6 types of whales in the wild, and lived her lifelong dream when she stood on deck in pajamas and a parka watching orca in Antarctica's Gerlach Straits. She loves writing complex characters facing impossible decisions. She doesn’t believe in fate, but she did fall in love with her husband on their first date when he laced up her boots, because she'd broken her hand.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 69 reviews
Profile Image for Yna from Books and Boybands.
747 reviews348 followers
February 6, 2020
Are you looking for an intriguing book about art, crime, and mystery? Congratulations, this book promises to give you just that.

What I Want You To See tells the story of Sabine Reyes and her journey through her first year at CALINVA, a prestigious art school. She has been struggling in a painting class, as she feels that she is not meeting the expectations of her professor. Aside from this, she is also dealing with losing her mother, being under much debt, and becoming homeless.

Sabine is a morally grey lead, which means that she has made several questionable decisions and she is also struggling on weighing things around. She is also surrounded by different people that also affect most of her decisions and molding the person she is turning out to be.

If I were to be honest, this book is a little slow in its pacing and it could be improved a little. Though I was expecting a thriller, the crime part of this story is a bit set aside, which made me feel a little sad and wanting.

But, there is no denying that this story is very unique and talked about topics that are not usually read in young adult novels. This story also shed light in important issues and finding yourself after all the challenges that life throws at you.

Overall, this book offers a great way to understand art and giving a glimpse of a young adult’s journey in knowing the right thing to do and knowing one’s self.


Much thanks to Disney Hyperion and The Fantastic Flying Book Club Book Tours for sending me a copy for review and for inviting me to be a part of this tour. This review is voluntary and opinions are fully my own. Also, all quotes are taken from the ARC and may or may not appear in the final published copy
Profile Image for Lyn.
389 reviews51 followers
January 31, 2020

Sabine Reye is a talented painter. Her life turns upside down when her mother dies. Despite winning a fully-paid scholarship to California’s most prestigious art school, which was a dream come true, her life isn’t all roses and sunshine. Her class with the teacher she once admired and hoped to study with is harder than she imagined. When a handsome stranger, Adam, who seems to understand her and gives her an opportunity to be better at her art, she takes him up on the offer. But who is Adam really? When she gets embroiled in a secret crime, she understands just what it means when things are too good to be true.

To be honest, I didn’t like Sabine much at first. I have an INTJ personality (introverted, intuitive, thinking, and judging) so it was quite annoying to watch her make all the wrong decisions. I believe that experiencing traumatic events does not excuse bad behavior or lashing out at others. But I also understand how lost and alone she was, with no one to guide her. I was disappointed by her choices. I suppose that it’s harder for me to empathize because I was forced at an earlier age to find my own moral compass which enabled me to know right from wrong. That said, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her. She was drowning and she couldn’t seem to pull herself out of the mess dragging her down.

The author’s writing was exceptional. She did a great job showing a complex plot-line with intrigue and good twists. I was engrossed in the story because I had to know how Sabine fared. I enjoyed the side characters and the way the author gave a creative slant to the story with the artistic descriptions, which were rich and vivid. Plus, how can you not love that fantastic cover?

Overall, What I Want You To See was a good story focusing on moral choices and the consequences of our decisions and actions, how they affect not just us but spiral to splash on the lives of others.

Profile Image for The Candid Cover (Olivia & Lori).
1,163 reviews1,300 followers
February 24, 2020
Full Review on The Candid Cover

What I Want You to See by Catherine Linka is a book I was excited for since it promises crime and art—two elements I always love in a story. I enjoyed the way art is translated onto the page, but my love for the book pretty much ends there. I had a difficult time connecting with the main character, and there is not enough emphasis on the action of the art crime, making the story fall flat.


This books follows Sabine, a talented scholarship student at a prestigious art school. Now given the opportunity to learn from a renowned artist, Sabine finds herself struggling in his class and willing to do anything to gain the approval of her professor. As her scholarship is threatened, she is offered a chance to improve her work and finds herself caught in the middle of an art crime. As someone who has little knowledge of art theory, I found this book very readable, and I actually learned a lot about the art world. The author also discusses social issues such as homelessness in the novel, adding some depth.


Sabine is a fine character but not my favourite. She experiences her fair share of hardship as she is forced to face life on her own, and her ability to persevere despite these hurdles is admirable. It is clear that she is passionate about art, and I liked seeing the world through her artistic lens. That being said, part of Sabine’s character is her moral dilemma, and she makes many poor decisions throughout the book. I understand the circumstances that would drive her to make these choices, but I had a difficult time connecting with her, largely because of this. It is interesting that the author has created a morally grey main character, however it didn’t work out for me.


The pacing is another aspect that I had trouble with. The book’s synopsis makes it sound so thrilling with its description of the perfect crime, but I didn’t find this one as exciting as I was expecting, and I wouldn’t necessarily classify it as a thriller. To me, it reads more as a contemporary with much of the plot focusing on Sabine’s experiences at school, and I found that not enough of the book talks about the actual crime. The pacing is quite slow until the end of the book, and I began to lose interest. As well, I didn’t feel like the stakes were high enough, and this also led to me getting bored.

What I Want You to See by Catherine Linka is a book with a lot of potential but not enough excitement. I enjoyed the original concept and the descriptions of art, however I couldn’t connect with the main character, and the plot fell flat for me. I would still recommend this to those looking for a book about art, however, as this is one of the redeeming aspects of the novel.
Profile Image for Shalini.
2,496 reviews198 followers
January 24, 2020
This was quite a fun and a different book for me as what I knew about art was a big fat zero. The author did end up teaching quite a few bits of it.

Sabine was an art student on scholarship and wanted to gain the approval of her teacher Krell. Her classmate Adam helped her, and she ended up creating her version of her professor’s work and sinking into a crime.

My first book by author Catherine Linka, quite a well written book it was. I liked how the characters were etched, they got the opportunity to develop over the pages. Sabine was portrayed seeped in reality where her vulnerability and thoughts of doing the right thing endeared me to her.

The first half was a wee bit slow, I am used to thrillers. Once I got used to the flow of the story, it became an easy read. I liked how the author showed the situation of deceit and the subsequent moral dilemma. The story had its thriller-y vibe happening which kept me hooked to the book.

Few social issues were incorporated into the story. I am not so fond of romance especially when the blurb didn’t promise one, I coolly could set those moments aside to enjoy Sabine’s story. I got to learn something new about art too.

Overall, it was a fun read over the weekend.
Profile Image for BreeAnn (She Just Loves Books).
1,388 reviews102 followers
February 23, 2020
What I Loved:
The focus on art in What I Want You to See was amazing. I fell in love with a book many years ago about art and since that book, I have been so intrigued by other books that feature art. In What I Want You to See, I got that same understanding of how much love someone can have for art. I really enjoyed reading and learning more about the art world, and how things can go wrong with each bad decision.

How I Felt:
The Characters: Sabine, our main character, is a bit hard to get to like. She takes things out on others and makes a lot of bad decisions, so it was a little hard to connect with her. However, she has lost her mother, become homeless, and is overall having a rough time. I gave her some leeway and ended up feeling a lot of compassion towards her and her situation.

The Writing: Catherine Linka sure can write a beautiful story. In a book about art, Linka painted pictures with her words. I was captivated by her colorful and detailed descriptions. The pacing of What I Want You to See was a bit slower than I was expecting. There were a few times where I really wanted to push the story forward. The ending was much faster paced, however, and gave me the excitement I was looking for.

The Plot: I enjoyed the forgery storyline in What I Want You to See. Sabine starts down a slippery slope and, while her decisions were frustrating for me, it did make the plot very interesting! There’s a romance story woven into this book as well, and I found it to be okay. I wasn’t super invested in their romance, however, it was an enjoyable addition.

Content Warnings: Parental death, moral ambiguity, depression, suicide.

Overall: What I Want You to See was a good book with a well-written plot. I really enjoyed the art in the book and the character growth for Sabine.

To Read or Not To Read:
I would recommend What I Want You to See to young adult genre readers that a bit of mystery, art, and morally questionable characters.

I was provided an advanced reader's copy of this book for free. I am leaving my review voluntarily.

My review of this book will post to my blog on 2/24/20. All of my reviews can be found at https://shejustlovesbooks.com/
February 6, 2020
Disclaimer: I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you to Fantastic Flying Book Club, Netgalley, and Disney-Hyperion for this free copy. All quotes in this review are taken from the Advanced Reader Copy and may change in final publication.


At first, this book gave me vibes that reminded me about that movie with Hilary Duff in it where she goes to some arts school or something? You know what I’m talking about, right?

Well, anyway.

The background on this novel with how much really goes into the arts and how intense things can be in that world. Not even just the technical aspect of art – because while it may look like art is subjective and should be able to be whatever it wants to be – but even the educational part and some of the competition that they have to deal with is pretty intense as it is.

Then you add the crime aspect that wow, I definitely wasn’t planning on that at all, and you have a novel that just went above and beyond what you would probably think this was about. It was… wow I know I said the word “intense” a whole lot, but that’s the feeling that I had with this novel, and Sabine is just someone that I couldn’t help but feel pulled towards throughout this entire novel.

February 13, 2020

Also Posted on For The Love of Fictional Worlds

Disclaimer: An eARC was provided via The Fantastic Flying Book Club and the Author as part of the Blog Tour. The Thoughts, opinions & feelings expressed in the review are therefore, my own.

For a woman like yours truly; who has absolutely no creative bone in her body, but who absolutely adores all creative forms of expression; What I Want You To See was definitely an eye – opener for me.

Sabine is an art student on scholarship to a prestigious institute; who NEEDS to get the approval of her teacher.
And just for that, with the help of classmates, Sabine stars down on a dangerous and precarious path that will lead her into the side of the art world that she has no experience for.

I adore mysteries; but I, for the life of me can’t remember reading a book with forgery as the foundation of a plotline. So, I am doubly glad that it was Catherine Linka’s book that I picked up to ease my way into the forgery plotline (not purposefully; but I love it when such coincidences happen!).

While the first part of the book is a bit slow, when it comes to the mystery of the plotline, it is the character growth of the protagonists that keeps the reader invested in the book.

As reader, it was important for me to understand who Sabine was a person – a recently orphaned daughter of a housekeeper who worked in Beverly Hills. And even surrounded by wealth, Sabine is a far cry from a pampered girl. She has no choice but to take care of her own self – the reliance on herself, this independence of her leads her to make some very perilous choices.

For someone, who enjoys fast paced thrillers, What I Want You To See was a wonderful change of pace of me; and one that I definitely enjoyed!

Anyone who loves finding new plotlines for their mystery/thriller books and would love a change of pace; then this contemporary YA mystery by Catherin Linka would be the perfect pick for those wintery afternoons, when all you want to do is laze around with a good book on your hand.

For more reviews visit For The Love of Fictional Worlds :)

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Profile Image for Marti (Letstalkaboutbooksbaybee).
1,304 reviews123 followers
February 1, 2020
In this book we follow art student Sabine as she attends her first year at a prestigious art college. Sabine has lost her mother and been homeless in the past year so her scholarship to CALINVA is her saving grace. Unfortunately the professor she thought could mentor her likes to mercilessly tear apart her art with unkind criticism. She also meets Adam, a grad student who knows exactly how tough this schooling experience can be and offers her friendship. After a series of events, the two get swept up in an art forgery scheme that may just put everything Sabine has worked so hard for at risk.

I thought this was such a unique story and unlike anything I’d read before. I loved the glimpses into Sabine’s art school life and all the commentary on how every form of art is valid and good in its own way. I also loved the conversation this book had around homelessness and the authors note at the end really reinforces the idea that we can all help out in some way and that no one chooses to be homeless, it could just happen to anyone. I also thought Sabine’s grief over her mothers sudden death was real and raw and something I could relate too.

However I felt like the love triangle in this book wasn’t really needed and the ending was a tad bit rushed when the rest of the book was careful to set everything up in a slow and deliberate way. I also think the consequences the main character got in the end were a little light considering everything else in the book.

However this was still a super fun read and one I’m so glad I got the chance to read thanks to the author, the publisher, and Storygramtours sending me a free copy to review.

I’d recommend this if you want a YA version of the show White Collar 😉

TW: suicide, loss of a parent, homelessness.
March 20, 2020
#FirstLine ~ Think of Krell as an angry art god who requires human sacrifice.

WOW, just wow. Talk about a book that makes you think. This book is filled with relevant topics mixed with an unputdownable story! What I Want You to See is a richly written original thriller. Not only is this story multilayered, it is also deeply character driven. The story takes you on a journey that is unlike any other. Bold and fierce, this story tackles topics that others do not and forces the reader to see a once invisible population! A hit and a MUST READ!!!
1 review9 followers
April 25, 2019
Smart, arty and thrilling! Although she's a promising young artist, Sabine's ambition and insecurity lead her to make dangerous choices.
I'm a huge fan of art crime and forgery novels so this novel grabbed me from the start - and all the way to the end. The plot is unique, believable, compelling and really nailbiting! It's also very true to the artistic process and the art world.
Linka's finely crafted writing reveals her character's vulnerabilities and motivations. We come to understand that, while she was raised in Beverly Hills, Sabine is far from a pampered debutante. As the newly orphaned daughter of a housekeeper to the rich and famous she has no one to rely upon but herself. So when Sabine begins to take matters into her own hands and falls into a web of dangerous deceit, forgery and fraud readers will keep on rooting for her to come out on top.
One of my favorite parts of the books is Linka's description of the painting process and of art school. The classroom scenes and critiques, as well as the students' artist statements seem so realistic (and at times painful) that I felt as if I was perched, watching in the corner of the art studio. This should strongly appeal to those who loved Jandy Nelson's I'll Give You The Sun.
I strongly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in the art world or art school, who like books or movies about cons or deceivers, who like thrillers with a sexy frisson of romance-- or anyone who just loves a very well written novel.
Profile Image for Lindy.
795 reviews200 followers
February 10, 2020
My Thoughts:

I love the beautiful and artistic cover on What I Want You to See. Once I read the synopsis, I was intrigued, and knew this was a book I wanted to read. What I Want You to See was a super fast read. The chapters are short, and the writing flows effortlessly. I love how the author gave just enough description of the setting, characters, and plot, that I could easily visualize everything, without being bored or making the narrative drag.

The story is told from college art student Sabine Reyes' point of view. She is in her first year of college and attending the California Institute for the Visual Arts, after being awarded the prestigious Zoich Scholarship. We get the present, as well as flashback's in to Sabine's past, through memories, and her reflection on sketches that she previously created. We learn of her painful, sad, and heartbreaking past.

Sabine has high hopes of becoming a famous painter one day, and learning from the renowned Professor Collin Krell, who also happens to be the department head. However, Sabine quickly realizes that she will not get what she had hoped for from her professor. During group critique he constantly humiliates Sabine and puts down her paintings. Then Sabine meets Adam, Master's candidate and work study grunt. He offers her a solution to her struggle with Krell. Is this the answer to her problem? Can she trust Adam, or is he not who he appears to be?

What I Want You to See had a very important theme in it about not just looking at the surface of things, but delving much deeper, and looking past anger, hurt, and fear. We see it when Professor Krell is trying to teach Sabine about art, as well as when it comes to looking at the people you meet. Many times our perceptions are blurred when we just take things and people at face value.

Art has always been a passion of mine, and I took three years of it in high school. So I was completely enraptured as Sabine learned about light, reflective surfaces, color, texture, negative space, etc. I could easily visualize her pencil and pastel drawings, as well as her paintings.

I enjoyed getting to know the secondary cast, and Sabine's friends, Taysha and Kevin were wonderful characters, but my favorite was Mrs. Mednimov, Sabine's sweet, generous, and nurturing landlady. These three made up a surrogate family/support system for Sabine, and I enjoyed her interactions with all of them. There was a light romance in the story, but the focus was the art, the mystery behind Adam and what takes place in the plot, and the overall message.

There were some serious topics addressed in the story, such as death of a loved one, homelessness and poverty, as well as depression and suicide. If you are an art lover, enjoy a suspenseful little mystery, light romance, and a fast-paced story that will keep you eagerly turning pages, I suggest you check out, What I Want You to See by Catherine Linka.
Profile Image for Mari Johnston.
426 reviews55 followers
January 22, 2020
This review and many others can also be found at Musings of a (Book) Girl.

Content Warnings: homelessness, anxiety, panic attacks, PTSD, suicide, hospitals, death of a parent

What I Want You to See is a very complex book. The first half was incredibly predictable and I thought about putting it aside several times but I’m glad I stuck with it. Once I got about halfway through I started to enjoy the characters and the direction the story was taking.

The main plot is pretty straightforward – Sabine is trying to successfully make her way through art school – but there are also numerous things happening on the side as well. Each character has their own life and challenges they are facing and Catherine Linka did a great job intertwining them together.

Because each character had their own individual goals, they were all well developed. Each of them felt important and contributed to the story in unique ways. Though everything was told from Sabine’s point of view, I loved that it didn’t only feel like her story – almost like it was about the art school as a whole instead of only one of the students.

While I did enjoy this as a book, I think it would work even better as a tv series and I’d love to see Netflix adapt it. The story and characters are all so vivid and it has just the right amount of drama to make you want to binge it in one sitting without being too over the top. Because this is an art school there are also a lot of visual aspects, like the art being created, I would love to be able to actually see.

This is definitely one I suggest reading. There are some pretty heavy topics and themes throughout so make sure you read the content warnings and keep yourself safe.

A physical ARC was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Mary Farrell.
Author 11 books81 followers
May 16, 2021
LOVE the beautiful cover on this book! This story stands out as different from many of the YA contemporary romances. It's set in an art school and art is a major focus in the book. Also, an underlying issue the main character deals with is being homeless and living in her car. It was very realistic in how she became homeless through no fault of her own, but there is a huge stigma around it anyway and she did not want anyone to know about her past life. There is an ensemble cast of characters who are different ages and life situations and well-drawn.
Profile Image for Karen.
100 reviews
May 3, 2022
Grabbed this off the shelf for a reading challenge, knowing nothing about it. Turned out to be part mystery, part crime novel, part art novel and a smidge of romance. I was pleasantly surprised.
Profile Image for Dara.
998 reviews26 followers
March 13, 2020
I enjoyed this YA book about a young woman on her own learning to make decisions and grow without her mother’s support. Sabine is an art student who is hiding her truth and struggling with what she wants to share with her new friends at school. I love that the title “What I Want You To See” refers to the ways that people hide themselves from others. Sabine creates a portrait of a homeless woman that strives to show how people see her as well as who she really is. Yet, Sabine doesn’t realize that she is hiding herself as well.

This book contains art, that while you can’t see it, you can imagine it. It also contains a mystery. Sabine does not always do the right thing and struggles with the desire for revenge versus improving herself and the way she treats others. I enjoyed the side characters including some of her art school friends and her landlady, and found that this was a quick read. Some of the deeper issues addressed in this book included crime, suicide, homelessness, and poverty. I would recommend this to older teens and adults.
Profile Image for BookishGeek.
299 reviews19 followers
January 20, 2020
I want to say first of all that I received this arc from The Fantastic Flying Book Club, and I am part of an amazing blog tour for it! You can find my blog stop, along with many others, over here on the tour page!

If I had a slogan, it would be "I don't like YA romances." That would be it. Kind of a shitty slogan, but there it is in all its glory. YA romances typically fall into the contemporary genre, so as much as I do enjoy a good contemporary I am hard-pressed to pull the trigger on a lot of them. But for whatever reason, I saw an offer for What I Want You to See in my email from the FFBC, and I couldn't say no. Call it precognition, call it dumb luck, but just don't call it average. This book blew me out of the damn water.

How I'd Describe This Book to a Friend
Sabine has had a pretty difficult life: she's grown up financially poor, but never poor in spirit as she's always had her mom right beside her, urging her on to achieve bigger and better things. It's through her mother's earnest love and her high school art teacher's belief in her abilities that Sabine has managed to achieve what she thought was impossible: the coveted, full ride Zoich scholarship at CALINVA, a premiere art university in California. This is even more meaningful to Sabine because not too long ago, she lost her mother. Her mom's employer - consider her a starring cast member on Real Housewives of SoCal - unceremoniously dumped her and her belongings outside, and Sabine has been living out of her car for a while now. A full ride art scholarship is her dream come true. A chance to really develop her skills, to show the world what she's got.

But there's a small problem - Sabine's got to enthrall the faculty to retain her Zoich scholarship, and as a painter there is really only one faculty member that can keep her afloat - Krell. I know I definitely had my own personal Krell during my own undergraduate - haughty, nothing you do is good enough, you feel like they are singling you out in particular to make your life miserable. And without an impressive painting for Krell during their first year showcase, Sabine won't be able to retain her scholarship. She works hard enough as it is - renting a small room from an older woman who has rented this room to Zoich scholarship students for what feels like a millennium, and working part-time at both a restaurant and a local art supply store - but now Sabine has to work even harder to figure out what makes Krell tick.

So when a handsome graduate student named Adam turns up in Sabine's art store, her interest is piqued. Even moreso when he complements her on her art - he saw her while he was in the classroom fixing a bulb, he confesses - but he has keys to Krell's studio, and therefore access to a piece of art so shrouded in mystery that not even its buyer has seen it yet. Krell told Sabine to copy artists, to draw inspiration from their canvases. So surely drawing inspiration from Krell himself will impress him ... right?

Lines grow blurry as Sabine feels more and more guilty about her secret time in Krell's studio - even moreso when she starts to develop feelings for Adam. Suddenly she has no time to do anything, and then a tragedy strikes the art world that causes a ripple effect which makes a wave threatening to crush Sabine, obliterate her. How on earth can she stay afloat?
The Bottom Line
I try not to read too many summaries, as a general rule. Including this one. So I thought I was picking up a pretty standard YA contemporary. What I got, however, was a YA contemporary that stretched the genre over into suspense territory, and really leaned back on the romance. Is there romance present in this story? Sure, of course. But it's not a focal point - I'd be hard-pressed to even argue that it's secondary: if anything, it's really a tertiary afterthought. Romance is part of Sabine's life, but her real love is art. And through her eyes, you'll come to appreciate art, too.

Interspersed throughout the book are short chapters detailing sketches Sabine has made in the past - these help characters we never directly meet such as her mother, or Iona (her mother's uptight, filthy rich boss) grow into lush, vibrant characters. Even the side characters we meet in Sabine's life at CALINVA and beyond are fleshed out - there is nobody here who is extraneous, and everyone matters, including a lovely homeless woman named Julie who I am certain will break hearts and become a fan favorite, because I know she's mine.

I don't know a lot about art theory or history, but Linka draws you in in such a way that you're off Googling and learning. I know more about art than I ever did coming into this, and I did it of my own volition, organically! Being with Sabine in CALINVA really brought back my undergraduate years, struggling and growing and watching her make some of the same mistakes I did. I can't stress enough that this book is so much more than a YA contemporary - it's about love all right, but the love of found family, of the beauty of art and the freedom of expression. The love between friends and the people who support you when you stumble. I adore Sabine and while this book does not receive a Big Red Bow Ending (thank god), I think she got exactly what she needed.

I am so proud of her, and that's how I know I love a book: this girl is part of my story now, too. And that's art in and of itself, in a way.

"Think of Krell as an angry art god who requires human sacrifice."
Profile Image for KarenJo Custodio.
342 reviews15 followers
February 1, 2020
This book was surprisingly fun and quite intriguing. What I Want You To See by Catherine Linka is a unique and captivating story about art, beauty, imperfection, and learning how to be true to yourself.

I like to think of myself as an artsy person. I love arts and crafts, I love being creative. I've done scrapbooking, jewelry making, pottery, and even started my own handmade nail polish business a few years ago (I don't do it anymore though). But, I personally don't know that much about art criticism and theory so reading this book and learning about that was very interesting for me. 

WIWYTS is different from anything I've read before, but I really enjoyed it and connected with Sabine more than I expected. Her struggle to gain the approval of her professor, Krell, her insecurities and fears about never being good enough, her passion for what she loves, and every other emotion she experienced I could also feel. I'm really shy and was one of those students who dreaded being called in class, and doing presentations and speaking in front of everyone. So, I could easily sympathize with Sabine and my heart just ached for what she's dealing with.

Linka's writing style has its own allure and I enjoyed it. It's easy to read and the pacing, while slow at times, had a nice flow. I liked the storyline which is well written and engaging. There's enough intrigue, conflict, thrills, twists and excitement. I won't go into details, but through all the lies, forgery, and deceit, I found myself on edge a few times and hoping the best for Sabine. Another thing I liked is how Linka vividly described the art pieces. It made me feel like I was there looking at them and that was really fun for me. The romance aspect of the story didn't really do it for me. Maybe I was into the other parts of the book, but usually I enjoy romances so that was kind of a bummer. As for how it all ends, I have mixed feelings since I was hoping for more, but I think Linka wrapped up the story pretty well.

Sabine is a complex character, but all her flaws, fears, and vulnerabilities made me root for her. As I've already mentioned, I felt a connection with Sabine from the start so watching her story unfold was at times heartbreaking, but also quite riveting. I was engrossed and while I did put the book down a few times, I couldn't wait to pick it up again and continue. I wanted to know what she would do, what would happen next, and what the ending would be like for her.

All in all, this book is different from what I'm used to reading, but in an unexpectedly good way and I quite enjoyed it. What I Want You To See is a unique, thrilling, and fascinating story that I'm sure would appeal to plenty of readers. This novel is so much more that what it seems and there are so many aspects of the story that will make you think and see things differently.

I received an advance reader copy of this book from the author and publisher via Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review and for participating in a Blog Tour hosted by The Fantastic Flying Book Club (FFBC). I also received free hardcover copy of the book for joining the Bookstragram Tour also hosted by FFCC. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Review can also be found on my blog Sincerely Karen Jo
Profile Image for Keri.
110 reviews50 followers
February 2, 2020
***I received a free e-ARC of this book through Netgalley and FFBC Blog Tours in exchange for an honest review***

Actual Rating: 3.5 stars

This book was the perfect fun read to compliment the “Intro to Art History” class I’m currently taking (and the drawing class I took last semester!). What I Want You to See was a captivating contemporary coming-of-age story mixed with romance, mystery, and of course, art.

One of my favorite elements about this novel was that it not only followed an aspiring artist, but that it followed a protagonist going to college, which technically makes it New Adult (even though it’s being marketed as Young Adult). As a creative writing major, I could definitely relate to the protagonist’s struggle with pushing herself creatively and doubting herself as an artist. And the friendships! Making friends in college can be so hard, so I liked seeing Sabine yearn for connection and friendship. Eventually Sabine gains a couple of quality friends, and I appreciated that they were a constant thread throughout the novel, and weren’t shoved aside in favor of romance like so many YA contemporaries have a bad habit of doing. Sabine’s constantly juggling work, homework, art, friends, romance, and stress, which is honestly so accurate to college.

An aspect that took me by surprise was how much I enjoyed reading about Sabine’s character. Initially, I was a bit skeptic, but as I continued to fly through chapters, I really started to admire her portrayal. Sabine is a girl with a lot on her plate, and I mean a lot. She’s constantly torn and unsure on how to approach things, her emotions consistently making her change her decisions, and I really liked the realism in this. Teens/young adults are constantly questioning and doubting themselves (or at least it feels like I am, lol).

There was one thing that didn’t quite work for me and that was the pacing. The novel is divided into weirdly short chapters, and while I liked the shortness at times, there were definitely multiple times where I questioned the choice of chapter breaks in specific scenes. Additionally, I felt the ending was a bit…anticlimactic? It felt oddly stretched out and the climax felt pushed up too close to the end. The ending felt a bit too convenient and definitely not explored enough. I really wanted more of an aftermath.

Overall, I found this to be an enjoyable read. It wasn’t astounding, but it had a unique premise and I really appreciated reading a contemporary set in college. I would love to read more books like this one!

Trigger Warnings: loss of a parent, homelessness, grief, stealing, lying, manipulation

You can see this review, my other reviews & additional bookish posts at my blog: Are You My Book?
Profile Image for Olivia.
2,973 reviews66 followers
January 7, 2020
See my full review here: https://www.yabookscentral.com/yafict...

WHAT I WANT YOU TO SEE is an interesting book that discusses homelessness, choices and their intersection with privilege, as well as art. Sabine is a student at CALINVA, a prestigious art school that she always dreamed of attending. The goal seemed unattainable until she received the Zoich scholarship. Now that she is at the school, she is having trouble navigating, particularly with regards to Krell, one of her professors who she had dreamed of working with, but who seems to frequently rip her work apart.

Sabine feels alone, in part because she is still dealing with the loss of her mother as well as the consequences of her mother's death, such as her homelessness and food insecurity. As such, she winds up being easy prey for the smooth-talking graduate student, who gets her what she wants most- a peek at Krell's secret, and very expensive, painting. Right and wrong are tangled in her mind, and as she seeks to piece apart what she is doing, she also tentatively thinks about who she wants in her life.

What I loved: This book sparks some excellent discourse about homelessness, the way they are viewed, and the challenges of being a college student. There is also valuable discussion about privilege and how this can relate to morality (e.g. belief of what one would do in a situation that one could not feasibly be actually put into due to privilege). Sabine experiences a lot of growth throughout the book as well as a lot of self-actualization. College is a difficult age, where one is deciding who they want to be. There's a lot of value in this book in showing the challenges of this journey.

What left me wanting more: Although I found the book overall highly engaging, there are parts that feel like you feel like you are very slowly on a collision course- that is, the pace can be a bit slow at times, and you can definitely see what Sabine cannot about how these things will likely blow up in her face. This will work for some readers and not for others. I would say that it is definitely worth sticking with.

Final verdict: Overall, this is a great YA contemporary, coming-of-age read about defining yourself, moving forward, and learning from your mistakes. Sabine is a highly sympathetic character who certainly drives this engaging novel. Highly recommend for people looking for a deeper, heavier YA contemporary read.

Please note that I received an ARC. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Kari.
691 reviews37 followers
February 9, 2020
By Catherine Linka

This book was a non-stop read for me. I was immediately connected to the incredible writing of Catherine Linka and I found an instant linking to the main character, Sabine Reyes. It touches on so many real and intimate topics that young adults are facing across the world today but often go unseen or is downplayed; such as the homelessness of college students. It really tells the story in such an impactful way and that these homeless students do have hopes, dreams for a future and are doing everything to survive homelessness so that they may continue and complete college to have a chance to change the cards they have been dealt.

Sabine Reyes was not someone you’d ever picture to be homeless. Growing up in Beverly Hills. But when her mother dies, the job her mother had, furnished not only a paycheck but a home to live in as well. Her mother was the Assistant to a demanding celebrity that had no need for Sabine since her mother was gone; leaving Sabine with her mom’s last paycheck, guitar and pride. She managed to get herself a car to live out of while she acquired a scholarship to the famed art school, CALINVA.

Sabine keeps her homelessness a secret from her teachers & other students. She has a tough critic in Professor Krell’, the class she must master in order to maintain her scholarship. She takes two part time jobs and finds a room to rent. She meets a grad student who shows interest in helping her show Professor Krell her true abilities. While her intent is pure, we come to find out his is not. He sneaks her into Krell’s studio to replicate a recently sold painting that Krell did that sold for almost a million dollars. She learns a lot and is excited to show Krell her improvement. Her copy is almost an exact replica. But suddenly both the grad student and the paintings go missing. Then Sabine’s replica shows up at the unveiling and is duped as being the original that the buyer had purchased. What happened to the real painting? Things get personal when the replica gets tagged and a fire is set. How did Sabine get involved in all this unknowingly? What is the risk? Is she a criminal if the truth gets out? Can she find the grad student that she now realizes she knows nothing about. Faced with voices telling her to speak up and tell the truth & risking everything she’s done to have a better future, Sabine questions everything about herself and her future.
November 14, 2020
SEX, VIOLENCE, LANGUAGE, DRUGS/ SMOKING/ DRINKING, HOMOSEXUALITY, and REPRESENTATION content listed below. My thoughts on the writing at the end.

SEX- kissing, dating, flirting, and mention of sex 2x but not descriptive (an artist take on it)

LANGUAGE- sh*t, f**k, b**ch, and I think there were quite a few b*llsh*t's...

DRUGS/ SMOKING/ DRINKING- no drugs, I think a couple characters smoke, and quite a few drink including the mc

HOMOSEXUALITY- a few gay characters

REPRESENTATION- one of the main messages or representations in this book is homelessness. How it can seem alluring to artists to capture, but respect is so important when it comes to the person.


This was a really great book for someone like myself who knows a little about the art world (like knowing acrylics doesn't necessarily mean nails). But if you're really into art, and you know what you're doing, you might be a little bored by the HUGE descriptive paragraphs about how Sabine completes her pieces. There was alot of information. I honestly thought the author was showin off a little... So maybe this kind of book would be a good choice for someone who has NEWLY discovered a passion for art, and wants to learn about the struggles and benefits of being an artist. Cause she really takes you through the processs... :/

I thought the crime was nicely crafted- very original, especially when Sabine's feelings were a key component. This may be a huge awakener for some readers.

Why did the end of like EVERY chapter (like the last sentence) seem like Sabine's final emotional statement?? Like what was the deal with that? She was so dramatic...

TONS of cool art piece ideas. If they make this into a movie, and hire like actual artists to do the pieces, I will be blown away. That would just be fantastic...You know, this kind of feels like an artist/ crime/ seduction movie- the cheesy statements, the romance, everything- I would LOVE it.

I think my only problem was that it was kinda hard to visualize (which is why I'm rooting for a movie haha).
Profile Image for Paige.
1,719 reviews76 followers
February 17, 2020
Disclaimer: I received an arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: What I Want You to See

Author: Catherine Linka

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 5/5

Publication Date: February 4, 2020

Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers

Pages: 384

Recommended Age: 16+ (some sexual content, art stealing, some language)

Synopsis: Winning a scholarship to California’s most prestigious art school seems like a fairy tale ending to Sabine Reye’s awful senior year. After losing both her mother and her home, Sabine longs for a place where she belongs.

But the cutthroat world of visual arts is nothing like what Sabine had imagined. Colin Krell, the renowned faculty member whom she had hoped would mentor her, seems to take merciless delight in tearing down her best work—and warns her that she’ll lose the merit-based award if she doesn’t improve.

Desperate and humiliated, Sabine doesn’t know where to turn. Then she meets Adam, a grad student who understands better than anyone the pressures of art school. He even helps Sabine get insight on Krell by showing her the modern master’s work in progress, a portrait that’s sold for a million dollars sight unseen.

Sabine is enthralled by the portrait; within those swirling, colorful layers of paint is the key to winning her inscrutable teacher’s approval. Krell did advise her to improve her craft by copying a painting she connects with . . . but what would he think of Sabine secretly painting her own version of his masterpiece? And what should she do when she accidentally becomes party to a crime so well -plotted that no one knows about it but her?

Complex and utterly original, What I Want You to See is a gripping tale of deception, attraction, and moral ambiguity.

Review: I absolutely loved this book so much! The characters were well developed, the plot was intriguing from start to finish, and the story was equal parts sad as it was uplifting. It was also a very fast paced read! It was a great read!

My only issues are that the book jumped around a lot, it was a bit hard to follow in spots, and the book did not give you a truly happy ending, which I desperately wanted. Like it ended great, but it still had loose ends.

Verdict: Prepare your tissue box!
Profile Image for Paige Bradish.
336 reviews10 followers
February 9, 2020
What I Want You To See by Catherine Linka is a book that teaches its readers a lesson. It isn’t just a cute story about a girl following her dreams, or trying to anyways. It’s about a girl trying to pick herself up from rock bottom and hitting a lot of walls along the way. It’s important for writers to write through sticky situations, and tough subjects rather than writing around them ultimately sugar coating anything too hard. Sabine Reyes is a tough young woman trying to make her dreams come true, but also dealing with her mistakes of the past since her mother's sudden death.

Writing and art are one in the same, the creators of both are artists in one way or another. Reyes is a painter at heart and it is her mission to be seen by her well known, hard to please art professor, Collin Krell. Her relationship with this particular professor is very bitter sweet. He is pushing her to her potential, but she sees his pushing as harsh and it often brings her down. Although Krells harsh behavior has a depressing effect on Sabine, it brings her close to two people she might not have ever confided in.

The most intriguing aspect of Sabines story is that her story teaches readers a lesson. It wasn’t one of those, something goes wrong and everything is fixed by the end of it, there was a real lesson to learn here. Linka takes her time and puts her main character through some tough situations, and lets her work through them on her own rather than bailing her out. Not only does this make her story more interesting but it gives Sabine so much more character, readers are able to watch her change throughout the book rather than staying the same and never learning anything.

Stories take on the ability to teach their readers something with each page. Not all writers can achieve this though. Some of them aren’t able to pull their readers into a story and teach them a lesson at the same time, but Linka does this perfectly. Once all the pages have been turned, each reader will have learned something significant, and that's real story telling.
Profile Image for Arlen.
96 reviews3 followers
January 20, 2020
What I Want You to See
by Catherine Linka
Pub Date: 04 Feb 2020
read courtesy of Netgalley.com

As a YA School Librarian, I try to read books from the perspective of my students. Although I've given this story a 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ for its story, I can only see it being a 3 ⭐⭐⭐ for my high school students. I loved the story and the style of writing, but I'm just not sure it's the type of story my students would enjoy. It's hard to say what about it does this: perhaps part writing style, part narrow character/plot appeal. The ability of a reader to relate to the world of an artist might affect how receptive the reader will be to this story. If it weren't for an art teacher in my current school who works with encaustics (hot wax painting), I might have been more lost in the story.

Personally, I liked the writing style; although, it did take a bit of getting used to; but once I did, I flew through the rest of the story. It isn't a "great literature" style, more like both sophisticated and terse at the same time. The juxtaposition of style matches the main character's, Sabine's, duality, a teenager who has to grow into adulthood alone.

Linka fleshed out believable characters with realistic dialogue. Her characters don't feel cookie cutter or stereotypical. She didn't have to exaggerate or embellish and thereby kept her characters true to themselves. Linka also accomplished something I find that quite a few of the authors I read have a problem doing: she provided a satisfying and not forced ending to the story.

I appreciated the internal dialogues Sabine has with herself regarding morality. She ended up doing something that was morally correct and personally difficult. I found myself questioning myself as to what I might have done and when I might have done it. I can ask no more from an author than this: I was engaged in the story!
10 reviews
June 2, 2020
Deeply engrossing from start to finish. Now, I feel I need to qualify this a bit. I found the part of the plot that focused on Sabine's attempts to prove herself at art school just as suspenseful as the part about accidentally getting involved in a criminal conspiracy. Which is good, because that's what most of the book was about. I am not a painter myself, and in fact the visual arts kind of freak me out because I wouldn't know where to start, but the author did such a good job folding the philosophy and techniques and materials of art into the story that I found myself really caring about the world of painting, at least as it affected Sabine. Even though I knew the crime part was coming from the blurb, and it was fairly obvious what that crime would be, I found myself wishing I could just read a whole book about Sabine growing in her art.

But all of Sabine's shitty choices, and there are a lot of them, catch up with her eventually. At the same time, I couldn't help rooting for her because all of those choices were so authentic. I could absolutely believe that someone facing those pressures and with a high survival instinct would find herself crossing one line after another and procrastinating on her guilt feelings until things spiraled out of control. Because Sabine had so many defense mechanisms in her personal and professional relationships, I found her realistic rather than contrived. Once Sabine became aware of her involvement in a major crime, there was a nice slow-burn escalation as the noose tightened around her neck. For most of the book,I honestly wanted her to get away with everything, but by the end I found myself rooting for her to become a better person, not just a more successful one.
Profile Image for Christine.
273 reviews10 followers
September 20, 2020
Some elements of mystery woven into an emotional contemporary. I thought Sabine was an extremely interesting and compelling character and I identified with her quite a bit. I think Linka did a great job shifting the reader's perspective from the beginning to the end of the book - it's easy to empathize with Sabine as she struggles with what seems like an instructor that holds a grudge against her. She's feeling targeted and attacked, and is easily influenced into making bad decisions. Her rationalizations made sense at the time, and you get the sense of foreboding as the book continues when you start to realize she might not be seeing things clearly. It was a great progression that really held my attention all the way through.

The only complaints I had were one: that the chapters in the first third of the book often felt too short. So short that it was a distraction from the story. And two: the attempted humanization of Iona, who was by all accounts an incredibly shitty person whose insecurities do not in any way compensate for the fact that she tossed a minor who had just lost her mother out onto the streets. I don't have any fictional sympathy for her, even with the included flashback, considering that apparently this celebrity was paying Sabine's mother next to nothing, and then sent her vicious and hardhearted assistant to try and wring financial compensation from a destitute young adult. If you want me to see this person is a different light, it's going to take a little bit more than a scene where they cry on someone's shoulder.
Profile Image for Lenoire.
969 reviews32 followers
February 27, 2020
When Sabine Reye wins a scholarship to a prestigious art school; it feels like a dream after her awful senior year. During her senior year, her mother passes away unexpectedly leaving Sabine without a home. She longs for a place to call her own. However, Sabine didn't realize that the art world could be so cutthroat and that seems to feed on other people's failures. She hopes that Colin Krell, a renowned painter on staff who becomes her mentor but, instead he delights in tearing her down and criticize everything she works on. He warns her that she will lose her scholarship if her work doesn't meet his standards.

Sabine feels helpless and humiliated and doesn't know who to ask for help. Then she crosses path with Adam, a gorgeous grad student who understands the pressure of art school. Adam gives Sabine access to Krell's unseen masterpiece that sold for a million dollars unseen. Sabine is conflicted about painting Krell's masterpiece but, he did tell her to copy a painting she connects with.

While the novel was a predictable read, I couldn't help but root for Sabine. I enjoyed seeing her find her path and working through life's crossroads. I wished they included more background information behind Adam and his motivation. Not to say this wasn't an enjoyable story but, this would be great if told from alternating points of view (even though I know the main point of the story is Sabine). Overall, I enjoyed the book and look forward to reading other books from the author.
Profile Image for Bookablereads.
75 reviews6 followers
Want to read
February 1, 2020
Written in an intricate manner, What I Want You to See is definitely one of the book the book community will surely love. 

Based on the cover, looks can be deceiving in a way you will think that is it just one of the many other feel good contemporary. But no, What I Want You to See is much more different than that. It is the kind of story where you the reader can learn how complex life is. How sometimes things don't happen the way we want it to be.

As a person who doesn't have the talent and interest in arts, I find it difficult to cope up with the story at first. But with how good the author is, I'm mesmerized and encourage to study and search the beauty of arts. It helps me open my eyes that art is not just a boring thing but an interesting beauty.

When regards to the characters. I didn't find it hard to sympathized and realized that not everyone have the capacity and privilege. It made me appreciate how amazing life is and be contented of who and what we are and have. With Sabine's portrayal, it shows how some people can learn how  to be strong when encountering difficult things. 

I would really wish that this book or story can be developed into something. I want everyone to know and experience the love, affection and realizations that I gain from reading What I Want You to See. To everyone, I want you to read WHAT I WANT YOU TO SEE.
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