Everything You Want Me To Be by Mindy Mejia Release Date: January 3, 2017 Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books Stand Alone Novel Number of pages: 352 Kindle Edition Source: ARC from Net Galley Mystery/Suspense Rating: R Read 12/26/16 to 12/28/16
Sometimes I don’t understand how the classification of novels works. For some reason, GoodReads has this book under YA. Now, it has a lot of other classifications that work (Mystery, Suspense…Thriller even works) but YA isn’t one of them. Just because a book has a main character who is 18 does NOT make it appropriate for youngsters to read. The publisher’s website has it classified as Contemporary Women’s Fiction and Suspense. That is much more accurate in my eyes. But the publisher also has some review blurbs that liken this book to Gone Girl and I just don’t see that. Maybe because I was so bored by Gone Girl I wasn’t able to finish it and I found this book to be spectacular.
I have a lot to say here so let me start with the synopsis for this book. At the end of the synopsis are these words, “Evocative and razor-sharp, Everything You Want Me to Be challenges you to test the lines between innocence and culpability, identity and deception.” I actually highlighted these words to see if, once I finished reading, I would agree. It seems so overstated. Now that I’ve completed this novel I can’t help but agree. This is really spot on. If I ended this review here, that should be enough for you to want to read this story. But I won’t end here.
I couldn’t help but be drawn in by the author’s word usage almost immediately. Since I have an ARC I really can’t quote from the text. Believe me when I say she has a true grasp of language. The imagery her words create is wonderful. I feel that I know exactly what Peter’s wife looks like. No, that’s not quite right. I know what her essence looks like. It doesn’t matter if she’s blond or brunette, tall or short, pale or tanned; I know her personality because of the words Mindy Mejia uses and the way she uses those words. I know her spirit.
I made note, as I was reading, that I hope this book is never made into a movie. There will definitely be something lost that will turn Hattie into an evil character. Although in many ways Hattie is evil, the author does such a good job in fleshing her out that I am also able to see her as an inexperienced 18-year-old girl. Since we get Hattie’s point of view throughout the story, it’s easier to see that she never means to hurt anyone even while she never really thinks about their feelings. She is very selfish, yet I can almost forgive her selfishness since she has lived her life being who she thinks everyone wants her to be. If they were to turn this book into a movie, most movie-goers will view Hattie as a conniving slut with no redeeming qualities and that’s just not who she is at all.
On the other hand, Peter may become more sympathetic in movie form. I start off feeling for him. Even at the end I have some sympathy. He’s not living the life he signed up for and his wife is blind to many things going on right in their own home that are causing the alienation in their marriage. Peter feels like it’s everyone in the town of Pine Valley versus him, with good reason. And Hattie has just the psychological makeup and ability to manipulate to keep him hovering on that line of good and evil. In my mind, I had to keep reminding myself that Peter is pretty young himself in order to keep some level of compassion for his situation.
Finally there’s Del; Sheriff of their small town and Hattie’s father’s best friend. People don’t get murdered around those parts, yet Hattie did. Del has to find the sweet spot between doing his job (and doing it well) while giving Hattie’s parents what they need to find closure. His struggle to reconcile the girl he knows with the girl he is discovering as his investigation progresses is subtle and stoic and hard. I believe he is my favorite character in this story. I trust him and want to see him succeed. I also want him to be able to do the right thing and be able to look at himself in the mirror. I was Del’s biggest cheerleader throughout this book.
There were points in this book that I thought I figured it all out, and times I had no idea how things would end up fitting together. What I liked is that I didn’t spend 300+ pages making guess after guess in my head. The story was too engrossing for me to want to do that. I often like to figure things out on my own, before the author is ready to reveal the truth. Here, I was happy to just be along for the ride and let the author tell me the bits and pieces along the way.
The skipping around in time took me a few chapters to ease into. If this puts you off, hang in there. Once I had the timeline in my head it ceased to be an issue and it added an intriguing flow to the story.
I’m putting this on my list of possible books for my book club. Although I’ve already read it and it’s not my turn to host for a while, I think this story will spark so many interesting discussions. Who knows what I’ll decide on when it’s my turn again, but I don’t want to forget to throw this one into the ring while I’m deciding. And since it won’t be read in my book club for at least a few months, I want to recommend it for you to read with your book club. You won’t regret the choice.
**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of Net Galley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review**