Underneath Everything – Marcy Beller Paul

Underneath Everything – Marcy Beller PaulTitle: Underneath Everything by Marcy Beller Paul
Publishing Info: October 27, 2015 by HarperCollins
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery/Thriller, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: September 10, 2015

Mattie shouldn’t be at the bonfire. She should be finding new maps for her collection, hanging out with Kris, and steering clear of almost everyone else, especially Jolene. After all, Mattie and Kris dropped off the social scene the summer after sophomore year for a reason.
But now Mattie is a senior, and she’s sick of missing things. So here she is.
And there’s Jolene: Beautiful. Captivating. Just like the stories she wove. Mattie would know; she used to star in them. She and Jolene were best friends. Mattie has the scar on her palm to prove it, and Jolene has everything else, including Hudson.
But when Mattie runs into Hudson and gets a glimpse of what could have been, she decides to take it all back: the boyfriend, the friends, the life she was supposed to live. Problem is, Mattie can’t figure out where Jolene ends and she begins.
Because there’s something Mattie hasn’t told anyone—she walked away from Jolene over a year ago, but she never really left.
Poignant and provocative, Marcy Beller Paul’s debut novel tells the story of an intoxicating—and toxic—relationship that blurs the boundary between reality and fantasy, love and loyalty, friendship and obsession.


As soon as I heard that UNDERNEATH EVERYTHING had a Thirteen feel, I knew I had to read it ASAP. There’s just something about toxic friendships that’s so interesting and gripping – I think maybe because we’ve all been there to some degree, even if not quite as extreme.

The rumor about the Thirteen vibe was true for me! I definitely saw pieces of the book that reminded me of the movie but I will admit that I was hoping for a bit more. UNDERNEATH EVERYTHING was absolutely a good representation of how seemingly good friendships are actually quite harmful but I guess I was just hoping to see a few more shocking things in there. It wasn’t pretty, but it didn’t have quite as many “omg moments” as I expected. It was enjoyable, though, because UNDERNEATH EVERYTHING shows maybe a bit more of a realistic and commonplace side of a toxic friendship and although I still haven’t quite experienced anything to that degree, I’m sure many of us will see pieces of our own friendships in the book which is even scarier.

UNDERNEATH EVERYTHING was a very quick read for me. I actually finished it in a day! I was quickly sucked into Mattie’s world and I wanted to know everything about her crazy friendship with Jolene. I think maybe I’ve read a few too many books because as messed up as their friendship was, I could kind of see things from Jolene’s side. I don’t think she was right in any way but once I got to know her story, I started to understand more why she turned out the way she did. It was very unpleasant and a bit scary but also very interesting.

The book had its highs and lows for me and I wished the pacing had been a bit more consistent. I actually think my interpretation of the pace came because of an expectation so while I found it to be a bit slow at times, I’m sure other people won’t have an issue with it. I was looking for more heart-pounding confessions and emulations but there was also a lot of character development too. While I always appreciate character development, I do think I wasn’t as crazy about those scenes because I was hoping for more thriller in the book than contemporary and personal reflection.

UNDERNEATH EVERYTHING was an exciting read and even though I read it in a day, it was partially my determination to finish… I hoped for a BIT more of a pull to keep flipping those pages. It didn’t quite “wow” me but I think it’s a very interesting read and I hope others will think so too! I know I definitely want to read more books like this.


“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

underneath everything gr updates


Mattie // Character Obsessions: Friendships, laying low, reputation, love life.
I never quite got on board with Mattie… I think it’s hard for me to connect to characters who have a bit of a weaker personality, but it was also necessary for the book. Introvert and quiet does not necessarily mean weak-minded so it’s those characters that don’t seem to have a strong will that are hard for me. I wanted to like her but just didn’t quite make it there.
Jolene // Character Obsessions: Friendships, control, the wild side .
I think I had hoped for a bit more crazy from Jolene but it was actually really interesting to see that line blur between too far and normal teenage behavior. It’s like, how much is too much? How much is pushing it beyond the point of just being a teenager and exploring personal and interpersonal boundaries? I appreciated her back story and thought it was interesting to include instead of just being like, “Here’s the controlling friend.”


Kept Me Hooked On: Toxic Friendships. I don’t think I’ve read too many books with toxic friendships but I totally want to, especially after reading this book!
Left Me Wanting More: Thrilling moments. I appreciate that it was a bit more realistic and a bit contemporary but I was sort of hoping for it to be even more er… messed up. I think I had Thirteen stuck in my head which is just a very shocking movie so I was angling towards more of those “whoa” moments.

Addiction Rating
Read it

This was really interesting! If you’re looking for a nice blend of contemporary, a struggle with friendships, and a dash of thriller, UNDERNEATH EVERYTHING is a solid choice!



(Click the cover to see my review!)


Hi, I'm Brittany!
Hi, I'm Brittany!

I'm an avid reader, candle-maker, and audiobook lover! Here you'll find book reviews, fun blog posts, and my other loves of photography & craft beer!

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4 thoughts on “Underneath Everything – Marcy Beller Paul

  1. Olivia Roach

    It seems like this one kept you hooked and you wanted to know more of what was going to happen. I always like the sound of that 🙂 It seems like because of expectation you were expecting a bit more, but I am glad you could enjoy it well enough too. Reading it in a day is pretty quick!

  2. Rebecca @ The Library Canary

    Okay, so I kind of just skimmed your review because I’m reading right now, but your update on GR at 36%… omg I know!!! I felt so old when I read that! I was like wait, don’t they mean Britney Spears??? Getting old sucks. Lol I’m enjoying the book so far and it definitely has me pulled in. I had some toxic friendships in high school so I can relate a little as I think everyone will be able to to some degree.

  3. Olivia @ The Candid Cover

    I have been really excited for this book. I can feel the need for a little more WOW factor in the book. Sometimes when the book is compared to something that we already know and love, we are expecting it to stand up to the comparison! I love that you can see the other person’s perspective, that is absolutely amazing. 🙂

    1. Brittany Post author

      It was definitely interesting but I think I just had an expectation. Still so shocking to see that friendship!!

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