by Mindy Mejia
Published January 3rd 2017 by Atria/Emily Bestler Books
“You say you’re just acting, but you’re fracturing yourself into a thousand pieces, and every time I see another piece, you’re gone again. You turn into someone else, a crowd of someone elses, and it makes me wonder if there’s any such thing as Hattie Hoffman”.
Hattie Hoffman is a talented high school senior who cannot wait to get out of the small town she grew up in. She believes there is a lot more for her out there and is determined to get it all. She has her plan and she’s not shy about sharing it with her family and friends, leave Minnesota for New York after graduation and start her acting career. She knows she does not have enough money to survive the big city but she is determined to make it work however she can. She has her savings ready for the relocation even when her parents are not as enthusiastic as she is about her plans.
“I’m good at being what people want me to be.”
But everything changes one night when her school produces on of Shakespeare’s tragedies, Macbeth. She stars as Lady Macbeth and is fantastic on opening night, so fantastic that for the first time people could actually see why she wanted to go to New York. Her parents start to believe she could actually make it in New York. But no one sees her after that night. No one knows what happened to her when she left school after the play. So how did she end up murdered?
“She probably thought there were only a few years between us, but it was a lifetime – dark, undiscovered caverns of disappointment and compromises. She was the adult idealized. I was the adult that really happened.”
It’s a small time where everyone knows everyone and so they are all shocked by this murder. They have a killer amongst them and no one knows who it could be. Del Goodman is the sheriff and friends with Hattie’s dad. He had watched Hattie grow up since the day she was born and that’s why the murder did not sit right with him. He was trying his best to keep it professional rather than turn it to a personal problem and so he followed the correct procedures throughout the investigation.
“… this girl who kept shedding masks like a matryoshka doll, each one more audacious than the last, a psychological striptease that racked me with the need to tear her apart until I found out who or what was inside.”
As he carries out the investigation, he discovers a lot of secrets in Hattie’s life as is common with any teenager. But the many faces of Hattie come in the way of his investigation. She was not just a talented actress but lived her life like she was play dough. She could mold herself to be whoever anyone needed her to be. She took life as her stage and assumed the character that fit a particular scene. To one parent she was the loyal daughter and to the other a rebellious one, she was a great girlfriend and good friend. All the versions of her make Del wonder who Hattie really was and who could have decided to take away her life.
“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.”
Peter Lund is fairly new to the town and Hattie is one of his most promising students. She excels in class and does not hide the fact she loves reading. When he assigns any book, she has probably already read it. Outside of the classroom, he is having problems with his wife who seems to be okay with staying in the small town when he wasn’t. He was probably the only one who knew the real Hattie Hoffman but he had no idea she was not putting on an act for him. The disturbing part comes in here. He is eight years older than she is and yet their chemistry is undeniable. She is in high school and he is her teacher. It’s wrong in the societal sense as she is considered a child. I was appalled by it all until it hit me my boyfriend is seven years older than me. LOL! Anyway, Peter finds himself in a situation he was carefully out in by Hattie.
“There was something about her: a brightness, a presence… This was a girl who hadn’t made any mistakes yet, one who recognized the world as only a giant cupcake for her careless sampling.”
The book is told from three POVs Hattie’s before her death, Del Goodman and Peter Lund who was her English teacher. The story shifts between the months leading to her murder and the investigation. The whole story shows a girl who was stuck between being what she wanted and what everyone else wanted her to be. It’s suspenseful and the buildup was just right. The ending was not what I predicted to be honest because I was sure it would end the way I thought it would but then I was surprised. So don’t be so sure that it will all go one way, you might be equally surprised.
Mindy Mejia did an incredible job with this one as I found it absolutely entertaining. It is a short read and I was able to get through it in a few hours. The story will keep you turning the pages trying to find the next piece of the puzzle.