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REVIEW: What Happened to Cass McBride by Gail Giles

Dear Ms. Giles:

What Happened to Cass McBrideThis is a Young Adult book and I know that some YA books are marketed to 12 years or older, but I would only deem it appropriate for kids aged 15 or older because of the dark overtones. This book’s centerpiece is the suicide of David Kyle. One night, after a negative encounter at school, David Kyle hangs himself from his tree in his front yard. He pins to his chest the following note:

Words are teeth. And they eat me alive.

This one act drives Kyle Kirby to an act of psychotic desperation and transforms the life of another teenager, Cass McBride. The tale is told in the first person through three different lenses: Kyle Kirby, Cass McBride, and short riffs by an investigating detective.

The theme of the book is the power of words. Kyle, David, and Cass have all been damaged by the words of their parents. Kyle and David’s mother has always been unsatisfied with her life and views her children as the opportunity to have success that she missed out on. Cass McBride lives with her father, the ultimate sales man, and has cut her mother totally off. She realizes, as children do, the love of one parent is conditional. She had to stay with her father in order to preserve their relationship. It’s bitter irony that the mother’s unconditional love is used against her. When Kyle kidnaps and then buries Cass alive, allowing her the ability to speak, you wonder whether Cass will be able to use her power of words to achieve survival.

The story, despite its brevity, shows that a child is so dependent upon the love and affection of their parents; that their psyches are so fragile. The nightmare that Kyle, David and Cass suffer is one seeded by their parents and nurtured by their parents. Did teenagers have responsibility for their actions? At some point, yes, of course, they did, but you come away with the feeling that tragedy was inevitable.

I always think the greatest horror story is the one that is real. Freddy and Jason are macabre, but because they are caricatures, those stories lack sustained fear factor. A story featuring a seemingly normal individual serially killing women and harvesting their skin is a tale that will chill you for weeks. This is that type of story. It is a fear inducing, eye opening horror tale that will choke a reader because of its realness, its absolute ability to occur in everyday life. The ending was brilliant. It was incomplete in way that absolutely fit the story. There could be no tidy believable ending for these characters. A.

Best regards,



Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Keishon
    Nov 09, 2006 @ 11:17:49

    This book sounds like it would be a really emotional read. I’ll keep on my radar next time I’m in the bookstore but it’s not something I’d want to read right now. Thanks for the review. Lately, I’ve been collecting fantasy YA novels. You should read The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner.

  2. Jane
    Nov 10, 2006 @ 00:03:27

    I will give that a try. I generally have liked the Young Adult books that I have tried. This book really isn’t a heavy, but it is emotional.

  3. Brittany Wright of PA
    Jan 19, 2007 @ 15:59:39

    I think that the book “What Happened to Cass McBride” is a classical story o f what our world is today. even though i haven’t read it yet i know that this book has all the same things that i know of. i know that this book represents the life a one teenagers life and how he likes this popular girl alot and how she rejects him. Thats typical in schiools all around. but not all of the kids that get rejected comit suicide but atleast one point in there time of harness they think about it. It just so happens that in this story that the brother kills who thinks caused his brothers death. now i haven’t read this book but when i do i will leave another comment.

  4. Brittany Wright of PA
    Jan 19, 2007 @ 16:02:26

    :-( I ope that this is a good book because i don’t want to read it and not like it!!

  5. Kristen B
    Feb 21, 2007 @ 08:15:54

    Ms. Giles
    Hi… im a 14 year old from PA. i came across your book at the piblic library in town( im always there), and it really caught my eye. So i began to read it. It was so hard to put down i always wanted to read it because it always had you guessing and on the edge of your seat. It was a great book one of the best ive ever read. Thanks for the book, keep on writing.
    One of your biggest fans,

  6. Carley A
    May 09, 2007 @ 12:23:00

    I’m half way through the book and it’s really good so far…

  7. Caitie
    Oct 09, 2007 @ 21:34:42

    This book was unbelievable. I literally could not make myself put it down. Congratulations on a Literary Success, keep up the great writing!

  8. T.Brown
    Dec 16, 2007 @ 19:20:06

    I hated thus book I had to read it in class it sucked i could have wrote a better book in my sleep i never want to read this again let alone even touch it this book should not have been written so please don’t ever write a book like this again


  9. mariel hendra MI
    Dec 28, 2007 @ 18:07:30

    I am reading this book for school, and i have to write a book report on it and i am haveing a hard time reading it. I think its really confusing.

  10. kynesha
    Jan 11, 2008 @ 19:14:18

    i liked it really good cant wait 2 read all Gail Giles books.

  11. heygirllheyyyy
    Mar 20, 2008 @ 14:29:12

    this was an awesomeeeee boook! i just finished reading it for school. definitley reccomend it.

  12. cindi
    Aug 25, 2008 @ 16:52:22

    I find it extremely interesting that the author felt it important to use foul language to entice the teenagers to read this book. Personally I felt that this book would be better for the parents to read. It is a very dark emotional book and definitely should be for older teens and I don’t think that the synopsis prepares one for what the book truly is about.

  13. that guy
    Oct 09, 2008 @ 11:17:21

    Ok I hate to read but my teacher gave your book to me and i loved the book. I didnt want to put it down. Your book is the first book that i actualy finished reading.

  14. Anoymus
    Jun 19, 2009 @ 05:05:14

    this was a GOOD book!!!!! i loved it. I didn’t want to put down the book when i started. It was so good i wanted to see what would happen next. Keep on writing Gail Giles

  15. Kayla Spires
    Jun 22, 2009 @ 15:47:32

    i think that this book was awesome. it explains true life and keeps you reading. i had to read this book for summer reading. i hate reading but i am glad that this book was on the list.

  16. eboni payne
    Dec 08, 2009 @ 12:43:31

    i think the book was good, but the ending sucked. it couldve had a better ending.

  17. LilMiss2012
    Dec 17, 2009 @ 17:47:24

    This book is a very good book to me. I loved how mush suspence was in this book. I was an perfect book to me, I could relate to this book because I have a friend who was in David situation. This was a very eye opening book. I tought me to never write thing’s that you might regret in the furture.

  18. haley
    Jan 04, 2010 @ 19:01:39

    Dear Gail Giles,
    I read what happened to Cass McBride. I thought this book was really good. When I started it, I couldn't put it down. But I am curious how you got this idea? Did you have a girl like this in high school with you? Do you watch or read a lot of mystery stories? How do you come up with such an interesting and suspenseful story?
    My favorite part of the book was the twist at the end when Kyle showed up to his mom's house to hurt her. I didn't expect that at all. I think you did a really good job of planning and making Cass mean. I don't think she could have been any meaner. I love how you made the ending happy with Cass realizing that she was selfish and mean.
    I really like Cass's mom. She was different from Cass and her dad. She didn't care about all the materialistic things that Cass and her dad did. When you planned the character for Kirby, Where did you get the idea for him? How did you think to make him, basicly crazy?
    I saw online that you have other books as well as this one. Are all of your books like this? Or are they different. And if they are different, how did you make them different. I really enjoy your writing and that's why I'm asking so I can maybe find another one of your books that I really enjoy.
    I have to say this is one of my favorite books and I don't have many of those. I would definitely read this again and recommend to my friends. I can't wait to look at your other books.
    Haley Cassel

  19. joshua
    Mar 14, 2010 @ 23:40:05

    this book is really great but did cass die at the end of the movie?. the ending really confused me. she said “when the blame is where it belongs, i’ll be ready to talk in the light” does that mean she died at the end of the novel?. someone plz tell me cause i am anxious to know what really happened to her.
    it was a great novel though.

  20. lou lou
    Apr 09, 2010 @ 08:35:12

    the book “what happened to cassMcbride” was AMAZING I enjoyed it so much. i am indeed a reader/writer of p.a and i am infact 14 I came across this book in a book store lying on the shelf it looked amazing so i started reading it. i do not enjoy reading that much but,your book changed my mind i just finished your book today and i didnt want it to be over i was so mad for finishing it but it was great all i can say is keep on writing because your writing is amazing(:

  21. lou lou
    Apr 09, 2010 @ 08:35:59

    @that guy: I agree i do not like reading and theese books have changed my mind

  22. Christina
    Apr 13, 2010 @ 08:02:06

    Sorry tosay but did not like this book at all did not understaned it. this was her first book that i did not like.

  23. Julian
    Jul 01, 2010 @ 12:12:26

    Im married to the women from the cover of the book

  24. Jenifer
    Dec 01, 2010 @ 12:30:45

    im very confused i am doing a book project now on it and my teacher wants me to find the setting i cant remember what the setting is can someone help me!!!!

  25. Assassinoc714
    Feb 04, 2011 @ 15:50:31

    I loved the book, it was a suspenseful work of words. such a page turner, I have read other work from Gail Giles, and this one is by far the best. 10/10

  26. Alaska
    Feb 13, 2011 @ 09:41:42

    I read this book in one day. It’s short and contains a lot of suspense, it really keeps you reading. Also I liked that there were several important underlying messages this story has to tell. Definitely a good book for teenagers.

  27. Precious Farmer
    May 12, 2011 @ 09:01:27

    i love this book

  28. morgan laser
    Sep 20, 2011 @ 18:55:21

    i like this book a lot….. its very good and interesting! im ten years old and i like it even if it has foul language or anything i could read it all day! im almost done and its so good. i cant wait to read another book that this author makes….what happened to cass mcbride

  29. Jeffrey
    Nov 14, 2011 @ 13:32:49

    This book is very good i loved it to the max

  30. Daily Deals: Two sports contemporaries, a CIA book, and a YA horror
    Sep 13, 2012 @ 14:02:45

    […] at her best” says Mary E. Pearson, author of A Room on Lorelei Street. I read this book when it was released.  It was chilling. Kyle believes that Cass was the cause of his brother’s […]

  31. Julian Ahanelensk
    Feb 08, 2013 @ 21:11:41

    Read it my junior year in high school; great read. In the end you can’t help but feel sorry Cass. That guy totally messed up her psyche.

    Oh, off topic, but doesn’t everyone love American Horror Story? Cannot wait for season 3!

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