Review: What I Want You to See by Catherine Linka

Title: What I Want You to See
Author: Catherine Linka
Release Date: February 4, 2020
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Pages: 384

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

This post does contain affiliate links. I will receive a small amount from any purchases made through Book Depository at no extra cost to you.

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.

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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.

People think home is where you live, but it’s not. It’s where you’re loved.

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.

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