Everything You Want Me to Be by Mindy Mejia

All right, first review of 2017! I’m excited! Are you excited? You should be, because we’re starting off right with Everything You Want Me to Be by Mindy Mejia. Trust me, this is one of those books that I’m going to ramble about and you are, too, because it’s just that awesome.

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Title: Everything You Want Me to Be (352 pgs)

Genre: YA/Mystery

Publication date: January 3, 2017

Summary:

High school senior Hattie Hoffman has spent her whole life playing many parts: the good student, the good daughter, the good citizen. When she’s found brutally stabbed to death on the opening night of her high school play, the tragedy rips through the fabric of her small town community. Local sheriff Del Goodman, a family friend of the Hoffmans, vows to find her killer, but trying to solve her murder yields more questions than answers. It seems that Hattie’s acting talents ran far beyond the stage. Told from three points of view—Del, Hattie, and the new English teacher whose marriage is crumbling—Everything You Want Me to Be weaves the story of Hattie’s last school year and the events that drew her ever closer to her death.

This is one of those stories where the main character – Hattie Hoffman, in this case – is so despicable that I want to hate her, but so lost and confused that I can’t. Hattie seems like the perfect girl: beautiful, smart, on her way to big things. At eighteen, she has her entire life ahead of her, but she already knows what she wants to be, even if she doesn’t really understand who she is. But the deeper you go into Hattie’s story, the more you realize that her perfection is just an act, one that she protects with every fiber of her being, even if that means hurting people in the process.

Hattie’s world, as small as it is, is populated with characters that seem to encompass every aspect of human nature. Del Goodman, the old sheriff in this small town who only wants this mystery to be solved, does all he can to help Hattie and her family, close friends of his, so that they can move on with their lives. There are so many threads to pick up, including those left behind by Tommy Kinakis and Peter Lund. Tommy, the stereotypical dumb football guy, loves Hattie with his whole heart and seems genuinely surprised when she chooses him as a boyfriend. On the other side is Peter, the new English teacher at Hattie’s high school, and his crumbling marriage. He wants a way out, a new life, and he finds that with a mysterious woman online. These threads tangle and knot together, catching these three in a web of lies and deceit, and then the threads do the unthinkable: they catch others and pull them in.

This was such an old-fashioned type of mystery and I loved it. What I mean is, we know that Hattie died, but we have to read through all the stories and muck through all the lies in order to find the killer. The ending is upsetting and surprising, and there were times when I wanted to punch a certain character. But there are red herrings and secret meetings abound, so be careful! I got caught up in so many different lies and was convinced that so-and-so was the killer, because the evidence was there and very, very compelling.

The writing is seductive and daring, a taboo subject written about in such a clear, level-headed way in certain chapters that I found myself agreeing with Hattie. But that might be the point. Hattie is so convincing, a girl who changes herself into everything you want her to be, only so you’ll be on her side. Mindy Mejia has written the kind of book that, once put down, isn’t out of mind. I’ve gone back to it multiple times to reread certain parts and see if I can’t find the evidence that I missed out on the first time {I haven’t}. She writes in a way that makes you feel really silly that you didn’t see the ending coming, and then you think to yourself, well, how could I? Like I said, the ending was a surprise, and so terribly sad, and it’s one of those things where I want more, even though there is none.

Lucky you, you only have to wait until tomorrow to pick up this book, and I really recommend that you do. It’s beautiful and sad and sweet, and it’s totally a great read for the beginning of the new year. I mean, don’t get any ideas from it, but, you know. If you want to start 2017 reading some good books, then this is definitely a great way to start.

 

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