UNBECOMING by Rebecca Scherm: A Review

This novel, published in 2015, opens in “a grubby antique shop in Paris, France, discussing the mysterious plight of Grace, the main character.  Whether she is the protagonist or not is up for grabs because all the way to the end of the book, I couldn’t decide if I liked her or was “on her side,” the traditional definition of the protagonist (the one we are “for” in the “struggle). She certainly isn’t an ordinary young woman, and she is petrified that her boyfriend and someone nicknamed “Alls” will soon be released from prison and come after her.  I vacillated between wondering if the boyfriend was abusive, and when I learned “Alls” was his best friend, or if the trio had been up to no good. Early on, we know a heist was carried out and that Grace is the only one who escaped to Paris under a false name and a false identity.

Scherm’s themes of fake vs. real gems, paintings, and people keep popping up, leading the reader to be confused and bemused at many parts in the story as the author takes a harsh look at her rather unlikeable main character. Will this not-your-basically-good young woman succeed? Will the “bad-guys” win for a change? How in the world will the novel end? Scherm deals with all of these questions admirably, and although I kept waiting for Grace to change and redeem herself, she does not, and even so, I kept turning the pages to read more.