Everything You Want Me To Be by Mindy Mejia– Audio
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.
My Review: 4 stars
Everything You Want Me To Be is a wonderful and quick thriller/mystery novel that kept me guessing who done it until the end. I was struck right away with the town’s name, Pine Valley, as a long ago fan of the soap opera All My Children. With the show being an iconic part of America’s TV history for 41 years, it’s interesting that the author chose this name. I applaud the author for injecting the fictitious Pine Valley with a completely rural feel. Everybody knew everybody and the local hangout was a Dairy Queen. I imagined every barn and place that was mentioned.
A girl is murdered and that’s no secret as it’s shared at the start of the novel. The story settles on why it was this girl who is seemingly the perfect daughter, friend, girlfriend, student, etc. She’s likable and relatable so who would want her dead? I commend the author for then taking on three different characters to tell both the back-story leading up to the murder and current story of the investigation. Additionally, Hattie’s role in Hamlet and a suggested curse as well as her role as Jane Eyre in the grey dress were fine uses of the author’s writing skills.
Hattie, the 18-year-old murder victim, is an amateur actress, which becomes a big part of this novel in many ways. Is she always acting to be who everyone wants her to be as the title suggests? Does she know who she really is? Is she hiding behind her many roles as she tries to discover her own identity? Many of the characters in this book are hiding behind intangibles: other family members, a past tragedy, books and more. I believe this novel offers a strong theme of finding oneself outside of our self-made barriers.
I listened to the audio version of this book and I didn’t care for the narration by Hattie or Peter. Several times they mispronounced words and I wondered why the publisher and recording studio let that stand. Examples: Hattie says OHpry instead of Opry and Peter says wind turban instead of turbine and gerringly instead of jarringly. It was annoying enough to remember these stand outs, but not enough to ruin the storytelling.
Overall, if you’re a fan of thrillers and are looking for a new read, I’d pick this one up.
Quotes I liked:
Every book changes you in some way, whether it’s your perspective on the world or how you define yourself in relation to the world.”
-“They don’t understand that acting is becoming someone else, changing your thoughts and needs until you don’t remember your own anymore.”