Friday, November 25, 2016

Book Review: "Everything You Want Me to Be" by Mindy Mejia

Hattie Hoffman is a talented, intelligent, beautiful high school senior who wants more out of life than her small Minnesota hometown can offer. She dreams of becoming an actress, of moving to New York City just after graduation. She already has a plan, even if she doesn't know anyone or have much money. She has the talent and she has the drive, but no one around her, not her friends or her family, really understand why she wants to leave, nor do they want her to go.

As her high school career comes to an end, her crowning achievement is starring as Lady Macbeth in her school's production of the Shakespearean tragedy. Her opening night performance was fantastic, and for the first time, people actually started to believe she could make it in New York. But what happened after she left the school after the play? How did she end up murdered?

Hattie's small town is rocked by her murder. Things like this just don't happen in this town, which throws Del Goodman, the local sheriff, for a complete loop. Hattie, the daughter of his fishing buddy, is a girl he has known and adored since she was born. As he investigates Hattie's murder, he uncovers as many unanswered questions as he does facts. Was this, as her best friend has suggested, caused by the famous Macbeth "curse," or was someone (or more than person) responsible for snuffing out this promising life?

What Del discovers as he digs deeper into the case is that Hattie was not only a talented actress—she was talented at being exactly who everyone needed her to be. The slightly rebellious yet loyal daughter, the perfect girlfriend, the exceptional student, the patient listener and friend, the talented actress. But who was Hattie really, and was this mercurial nature responsible, at least in some way, for instigating her death?

Everything You Want Me to Be is a fascinating, suspenseful portrait of a girl torn between what she wanted and what she thought everyone else wanted her to be. The book is narrated by Hattie, Del, and Peter Lund, Hattie's English teacher, who is reasonably new to town, and it shifts between the months and days leading up to Hattie's murder and the investigation.

Mindy Mejia throws in lots of twists and turns, and while the cynical, frequent-mystery-reading me suspected absolutely everyone, I really liked how she let the story unfold. This is a tragedy on many levels, and Mejia's storytelling hooks you from the start and doesn't let you turn away until you see how the book ends. I really enjoyed this and would have devoured it a lot quicker was I not cooking Thanksgiving dinner for 30 people this week!

This is definitely a book to pick up, because even though we've seen elements of this plot before, Mejia makes it seem fresh and makes you care about her characters.

NetGalley and Atria/Emily Bestler Books provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!

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