Friday Favorites: A Flashback – 2/18/22

With my trip down memory lane in regards to my 5-star reads, I’ve reached the end of 2016. I’m really enjoying revisiting these old reviews in my Friday Favorites lately.

I’m the type of reader that will remember the feel and tone of a book more than details or even character names. If I were to re-read this book, over 5 years since the initial read, I’d probably be just as engrossed and surprised by the story as I was the first time through. Every time I see this cover I remember how much I loved this book, and I remember certain small tidbits, especially about the main characters. After reading my old review I certainly feel like I want to read it again. I don’t tend to re-read a lot anymore because I have so many books on my TBR, but I’m very tempted in this case.

You can find my original post here, but below is an updated and edited version. (Edited for grammar, spelling, and formatting, not content.)

Everything You Want Me To Be
by Mindy Mejia
Release Date:  January 3, 2017
Publisher:  Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Number of pages:  352
Kindle Edition
Source: ARC from NetGalley
Ages: 17 and up
Note: As mentioned above, I don’t remember particulars of stories I’ve read in the past. I know this story has a lot of possible triggers. It’s not very graphic, if I remember correctly, but there is an age-gap relationship that isn’t appropriate and, of course, murder.
No one knows who she really is…

Hattie Hoffman has spent her whole life playing many parts: the good student, the good daughter, the good girlfriend. But Hattie wants something more, something bigger, and ultimately something that turns out to be exceedingly dangerous. When she’s found brutally stabbed to death, the tragedy rips right through the fabric of her small-town community.

It soon comes to light that Hattie was engaged in a highly compromising and potentially explosive secret online relationship. The question is: Did anyone else know? And to what lengths might they have gone to end it? Hattie’s boyfriend seems distraught over her death, but had he fallen so deeply in love with her that she had become an obsession? Or did Hattie’s impulsive, daredevil nature simply put her in the wrong place at the wrong time, leading her to a violent death at the hands of a stranger?

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 death.

Evocative and razor-sharp, Everything You Want Me to Be challenges you to test the lines between innocence and culpability, identity and deception. Does love lead to self-discovery—or destruction?

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.

5 stars

**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an  honest review**

About Cheri

I'm the mom of two boys and wife to my high school sweetheart. Our oldest, Josh, is living at home while working and paying off student loans. Our youngest, Griffin recently left his active duty Army job and is now National Guard here at home. He moved back to Michigan with his wife Kirsten and our beautiful granddaughter Hazel. I work part time and try to fit as much reading into my life as possible.
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1 Response to Friday Favorites: A Flashback – 2/18/22

  1. Louise H says:

    Great review Cheri. I’m like you – I remember the emotions/feels of a book more than specific details. I’m not sure if all my 5 star reads from a few years ago would still be 5 stars. My tastes have changed and I’m much pickier too. It’s great fun looking back. I just wish I had the time to re-read some of them.

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