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Tuesday, November 29, 2016


5 stars out of 5

Move over, Charleton - you no longer have a lock on that "cold, dead hands" thing. For the past couple of hours (as I write this), nothing short of that could have pried my Kindle out of mine. That's because once I reached the 60% mark in this book, give or take a percentage point or two, there was no way I was going to stop until I reached the end. Yeah, folks, it's that good.

When I first opened it, I admit to being a bit skeptical. It's another of those with chapters that shift perspective, and time, from one character to another to another - a technique of which I'm not a big fan. That's still true, but in this instance, it wasn't as bothersome as usual. I'm not sure why - maybe because there aren't that many perspectives to keep straight (only three), or maybe because the time frames are within fairly close proximity so I don't have to keep track of what century I'm in. Whatever the reason, the technique works well here. As is typical, each chapter adds new information to the story, building up to the conclusion.

The three perspectives come from high school senior Henrietta (Hattie) Hoffman, who excels at every role she decides to play, from daughter to student to actor. The latter role, literally, was her last; after a first-night performance as Lady Macbeth, she becomes a victim herself - stabbed to death in an old barn in rural Minnesota near her home. Another voice comes from Peter Lund, a new-to-the-system English teacher who has moved here with his wife, who insisted on moving back home to care for her dying mother. The third is Del Goodman, the local sheriff who has long known Hattie and her parents well, but now has to put aside all former assumptions and friendships to find the murderer.

Other characters move in and out, including Peter's stressed and increasingly distant wife Mary, Hattie's high-school boyfriend Tommy and Portia, her friend and stage rival. With the possible exception of Del, no one really is all that likable (at least to me); readers get an up-close-and-personal look at them, warts and all, as we follow the events leading up to the murder and try to guess who the culprit is and what his or her motivation was.

Beyond that, I can't say more without revealing too much. But I will re-emphasize, as I said at the beginning, that the whole thing blew me away. I thank the author and publisher, via NetGalley, for granting me the opportunity to read and review it in exchange for an honest review - and my honest opinion is that this one deserves a place on anyone's best-seller list. Or, put more simply, wow!

Everything You Want Me to Be by Mindy Mejia (Atria/Emily Bestler Books, January 2017); 352 pp.

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