“EVERYTHING YOU WANT ME TO BE,”
BY MINDY MEJIA
PUBLICATION: ATRIA/EMILY BESTLER BOOKS;
JANUARY 3, 2017
Synopsis: 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.
I’m not exactly sure how to do this book justice but I will absolutely try! “Everything You Want Me to Be” is an absolutely compelling page-turner that I quickly devoured in one sitting. This novel is told from 3 points of view: Hattie, the high school senior that is found murdered; Del, the local Sheriff and close friend of Hattie’s family; and Peter, the new high school teacher that is incredibly good-looking, intelligent, progressive, and also has a very troubled marriage. Early in the novel, a girl’s body is discovered in an old barn, which turns out to be Hattie. The novel then alternates between points of view, as well as, between past and present in order to paint the picture of Hattie’s real life and those involved in it, along with Del’s investigation and the aftermath of her death.
There are several key players in this novel, in addition to the 3 above-mentioned characters. Hattie’s parents, Bud and Mona, have been close friends with Del since before Hattie was born. This creates a great deal of conflict within Del trying to conduct his investigation while also trying to console his friends about the loss of their daughter. There is also Hattie’s boyfriend, Tommy Kinakis whom she broke up with the night of her murder. Regarding the English teacher Peter, there was his wife, Mary Beth, who moved them there from Minneapolis to take care of her mother and also paid little attention to her husband and the growing distance between them. There is also Jake, one of Del’s deputies, Hattie’s best friend Portia, and several other townspeople with their own thoughts and opinions on Hattie’s murder.
What are the themes of this outstanding novel? Well, first and foremost would be the fact that sometimes we never really know people, whether they are our parent, spouse, child, and so on. Second, this novel perfectly demonstrates the damage one can do to themselves by pretending to be something they are not, always trying to project the perfect persona for the sake of others. Third, this novel portrays the ugly faces of jealousy, passion, rage, and feeling there are no other choices.
Mindy Mejia has not only written a wonderful “whodunnit” novel, but she has shown how different perspectives have such different opinions and realities. I would like to say that Peter was the only person that truly knew Hattie, but I’m not even sure if that is an accurate statement. This novel tells the story of a girl who tries so hard to be a certain person for so many different people, that eventually she completely loses sight of who she really is. Then all of the people that loved her slowly learn how little they actually knew about who she really was. This novel is suspense at it’s best, at times getting completely and uncomfortably under your skin, but leaving you breathless at the end of each and every page. Mejia’s writing convinces the reader that this person did it and then that another person did it but when it is all said and done, it is completely unexpected.
I am so incredibly happy that I was given the opportunity to read this ARC and feel certain that this will be a best seller in 2017 when released. Mindy Mejia has taken unfortunately common topics such as murder and student-teacher relationships to an entirely new and suspenseful level. This is a novel that you will not soon forget and will be telling everyone about that are willing to listen.
Learn more about Mindy Mejia by visiting her web page.
Thanks to NetGalley for providing a copy of this ARC in exchange for an honest review.