Book Title: Everything You Want Me To Be
Author: Mindy Mejia
Genres: Mystery, Fiction, Thriller, Suspense, Contemporary
Date Read: 10/07/16
Pub Date: 01/03/17
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?
This will be a tricky review; I refuse to become spoilery and so I will refrain from saying certain things I would like, but just know this book is well worth your time, money, and energy in reading it. This is one of those books that stays with you well after the final page is turned; I’ve been thinking about this book for days now and am finally composed enough to review it. I’m still not sure why this book hit me the way that it did, as I’m not in any sense relatable to Hattie’s stage of life, but this one burrowed deep inside me and refuses to let go. If you are picking this up solely for a cheap, shocking twist on who murdered Hattie-don’t. We know from early on that there are few options so your deducing skills will be wasted if that’s what you’re after. This book was so much more than a psychological thriller and there was no mention of a Girl in the title or comparison to a book mentioning said Girl! I’ll try to reign in my thought process as this is one I could ramble on about for days.
This story is told from 3 point of views; Hattie, Peter, and Del (the sheriff investigating Hattie’s murder). All have information we need in separate pieces; Mejia does a fine job of spreading these little nuggets around where we discover them at precisely the perfect moment. I could have easily read this book in one sitting; the pacing is compulsive and the chapters are spaced perfectly apart so that they aren’t choppy, but are also not too long. The characters were fleshed out nicely with flaws and issues that were struggled with until the end. The cover was perfect and really drew my eye to it. It’s a great length overall for those looking for baby bear perfection of “not too long but not too short”. Overall, the construction, writing, pacing, and design were what I would humbly consider exquisite.
I found this book extremely disturbing (YAY!), but not for the reasons you’re assuming. This book was actually very tame when it came to graphic violence and trigger worthy content; the disturbing aspect was how deeply moved I was by Hattie’s final year and digging deeper into how it all happened. Maybe part of her story was relatable to me, as my husband and I have the same age gap as Hattie and Peter, which made things more realistic for my reading experience. No, he was not in a position of authority over me, and no we didn’t start dating while I was in high school or underage, but it still made me think about how a gap of 8 years can seem like a life time between two humans regarding maturity levels, rather than if they had both been, say, in their 30’s. You can feel the urgent tension building with each chapter, right up until we learn the killer’s identity and find out just what caused everything to fall apart. My heart broke for this young girl who spread herself so thin to be “everything everybody wanted her to be”. Most disturbing of all, this book reminded me of the impending death we are all headed for, and how none of us know when it will come. Youth and potential are no defense against mortality and this is the shining theme throughout Everything You Want Me To Be. Overall, this was a haunting story with suffocating tension that will crawl deep beneath your skin without you realizing until it’s over. Highly recommended to the fans of a well done psychological thriller; I’m not sure if I should consider this one of my top reads of 2016 or 2017-maybe both!
*Many thanks to Atria Books (go mystery bus go!) for providing my copy for review. It’s also currently available on NetGalley for request, so run on over and click that button!