Author: Katie Williams
Genre: Contemporary, mystery, thriller, crime
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Rating: 3/5 Stars
"In this haunting tale, quirky loner Evie is in the wrong place at the wrong time when her sometime friend and total crush, Jonah, discovers a body in the woods -- a body that turns out to be that of her childhood playmate. At the funeral, a fateful lie leads Evie into a complicated relationship with the dead girl's father and best friend. Before she realizes what is happening, Evie is on the hunt for a killer, spinning more lies along the way and putting herself in serious danger."
I'm not even going to pretend I didn't buy this book for its cover. The picture really doesn't do it justice, but it's beautiful. It is a hardcover that has been laser cut to look like branches that sit over the paper cover underneath. I found it in a bin at Border's last year during its closing sale (sob!). It took me a lot longer than usual to read the book because I kept flipping it over and staring at the cover. But anyway, I didn't get around to reading it for a long time and I didn't expect much. Luckily, it surprised me.
The story is about Evie, a loner who isn't really lonely at all. She has her paper route and she has Jonah. He hauls dead animals out of the woods behind one of the nicer neighborhoods in town (fun job right?). Evie loves him and follows him around during her route, but he seems to think she's just a silly kid. She twists the small conversations they have together into more romantic tales to tell the girls that she sits with at lunch. Her life with Jonah and her vacuous mother is blissfully boring until a body is pulled out of the woods. It turns out to be her childhood friend, Zabet, and Evie is immediately obsessed with the crime. She becomes entangled with Zabet's father, a sad, lonely divorcee and her best friend, the chain-smoking, slightly unstable, Hadley. She and Hadley begin searching for Zabet's killer and along the way form an unlikely friendship.
So what did I think about this book? Overall, it was better than expected. There were moments of real truth. This was especially true with Hadley. Her grief over the death of her only real friend sends her into a downward spiral that is realistic and painful to watch. She tries so hard to be tough and act like nothing bothers her, but throughout the book you can see her mental instability growing and you really start to feel for her. Mr. McCabe is another character that seems very well thought out. He tries to hold on to his daughter by forming a relationship with Hadley and Evie. His desperation is palpable, from only making spaghetti because it was Zabet's favorite to keeping her room in the complete disarray in which it was left. He is possibly the saddest character in the whole book. Finally there is Jonah. He is sort of an enigma in the book. He is around but he doesn't say much and the reader rarely knows what he is thinking. This is the same way that Evie sees him. The reader wants to get to know him as much as she does. Unfortunately, I didn't feel like he was given a chance to really come into his own as a character. I would have liked to understand him more. Another character who left me wanting was Evie's mother. She was so self-obsessed and vapid that I couldn't help but dislike her. I kept hoping that she would evolve through the story, but unfortunately she didn't. There was sort of a moment toward the end of the book where she seems to have come to her senses (she left the house without makeup, oh my!) but it was lackluster. The biggest problem I had with the book though was the mystery aspect. The whole story seemed to be leading up to this thrilling ending. Some big epiphany and, instead, it fizzled out. I found myself going, "that's it? It's over?" which is never much fun in my opinion.
Negatives aside, this book does have merit. Some of the characters are very fun to get to know and the story, itself, was very interesting at times. Evie is a sympathetic protagonist with real feelings and insecurities and the story does make you think. I wish that the author would have delved a little deeper into the characters and their relationships with one another, but for the most part the story wasn't bad. I'd recommend this if you want something a little dark, with some quirkiness to it.