Review: Everything You Want Me To Be

January 4, 2017 Atria, book review, books, family 5

  • Written by: Mindy Mejia
  • Published by: Emily Bestler Books, an imprint of Atria, Simon and Schuster Books, January 3, 2017
  • Length: 352 pages
  • Source: Edelweiss e galley, with permission from publisher

I received this book in e galley format in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

Full of twists and turns, Everything You Want Me to Be reconstructs a year in the life of a dangerously mesmerizing young woman, during which a small town’s darkest secrets come to the forefront…and she inches closer and closer to her death.

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.

Evocative and razor-sharp, Everything You Want Me to Be challenges you to test the lines between innocence and culpability, identity and deception. Does love lead to self-discovery—or destruction?

My Thoughts:

Hattie Hoffman can’t wait to leave the small town of Pine Valley, she’s dreamed of a new life in New York City.  She’s fantasized the life she will have, struggling actress, working part time at a CVS, everything.  She visualizes what she will be.  In her current role of daughter, student, friend, she just keeps acting, being the best girl everyone expects of her.

First Hattie is missing, her father calling his friend Del, also the local sheriff.  Then a body is discovered in an abandoned barn.  Found by two kids hoping to make out, the body is half in some lake water and half out. He and his deputy both suspect it’s Hattie, but the slash marks on the face mixed with the bloating make it impossible to identify on first glance.  A murder in a small town like Pine Valley is a nightmare.  Especially when it’s a young girl everyone loves.

The description of the body is so shocking and surreal, the author has set up this fact to lead the reader through the rest of the book.  This heinous crime, the passionate, angry act,  is the driving force that keeps Del focused on finding the murderer.   It’s an image that never went away.  Mindy Mejia leads the reader back to the beginning of Hattie’s senior year.  She takes us back to when the new English teacher, Peter is forced by family circumstances to leave Minneapolis with his wife and move in with his ailing mother in law near the small town of Pine Valley.  He hates small town life, and he is mystified with the woman his wife has become.  Mejia also gives us a look into the sheriff’s past, he is truly a good man, faced with a difficult job, a friend and an entire town looking to him for answers.

I’ve always liked books that move from present to past time lines and this one is done so well.  The author gives the reader all the emotions and history that have lead to the current day.  We also see Del learning bits and pieces of Hattie’s life in his effort to find her killer.  There are obvious choices and shocking discoveries and my mind was taken to what I thought was a reasonable answer. I was glad I was wrong, I didn’t want it to be easy.  The details of each relationship are brilliantly tied together.

My first books of 2017 was so very good!  I can’t say enough good things about Everything You Want Me To Be.  I recommend this book to anyone who likes a twisted tale, one you feel you can’t put down.  I look forward to more books from Mindy Mejia.

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