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Everything You Want Me to Be: A Novel (edition 2017)

by Mindy Mejia (Author)

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10332117,210 (4)2
Member:scoutlee
Title:Everything You Want Me to Be: A Novel
Authors:Mindy Mejia (Author)
Info:Atria/Emily Bestler Books (2017), 352 pages
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned
Rating:****
Tags:Minnesota, new release 2017, read 2017, ebook 2017, new author 2017, family dynamics, high school, mystery/suspense

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Everything You Want Me to Be: A Novel by Mindy Mejia

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This is an excellent psychological thriller and so much more. Hattie is a girl with a magnetic personality who knows what she wants and how to get it; she’s manipulative, focused and undeterred when she wants something. Her voice is pure and believable, haunting even, it keeps you anting more.
You may think this is a police procedural because a murder takes place, but it’s not, this is Hattie’s story and the story of the lives that intercept hers during the last year leading up to her death. The author gets the reader right into her head. She is an aspiring actress on stage and in her day to day life; constantly changing to meet the different needs of her parents, classmates, boyfriend and teachers. The people you meet through Hattie are complex and some, suspects in her murder. The story takes place in a small Minnesota town and this complicates things. Everyone knows everyone else, including Del, the local sheriff, heading up the investigation. He’s best friends with Hattie’s father, and has known her since the day she was born. Looking for a good mystery/thriller? Give this one a try. It’s great. Highly recommend.

Review previously posted at: www.princetonbookreview.com

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  Princetonbookreview | Mar 27, 2017 |
This was a very good book that makes you think about the slippery slopes we navigate in our decision making. While a major focus is a young immature girl with some personality issues, I was intrigued by the teacher who unfortunately risked everything for her. ( )
  ebrahmstadt | Mar 1, 2017 |
Fantastic! I’ve read many books in the suspense/thriller genre, and this is one of the best. EVERYTHING YOU WANT ME TO BE is an engrossing, character-driven mystery that grabs your attention and doesn’t let go.

The story is about the murder of a Minnesota farm girl named Hattie, who dreamed of a career on the stage in New York after high school. Her acting talent allowed her to be all things to everyone. Was she a heartless manipulator, or simply a teenager searching for identity? Hattie tells us her story in the months leading up to her killing, and the chapters alternate with two other characters’ POVs, including the town’s sheriff investigating the shocking crime.

This was such a great book! I loved the complicated characters and suspenseful plot. The twisty ending was amazing. Even as unsettling as its subject matter was, the book’s last lines were haunting and lovely, and they got me choked up. Gah! I’m eagerly anticipating Mindy Mejia’s next book.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  bookofsecrets | Feb 23, 2017 |
Small towns and their secrets. It’s a plot device that I am a huge sucker for. I don’t know if it’s because both my parents grew up in small towns and have many stories to tell and spill the tea on, but it has always been the kind of story that I can get behind. From “Twin Peaks” to “Peyton Place”, the Small Town Secrets trope can be incredibly tantalizing. The description of “Everything You Want Me To Be” makes it pretty clear from the get go that this is the kind of book that you’re going to be reading, and I can’t tell ya enough how happy that makes me. Sudsy, dark, seedy, scandalous books are sometimes just what the doctor ordered, and it was a page turner that I greatly enjoyed.

Okay, so yes, perhaps part of that enjoyment is taken from the fact that this book takes place in small town Minnesota. Any book or film or show that takes place in my home state is going to get an advantage from me, just because you don’t see it all that often. And Mejia being from here definitely gave it that feel of authenticity, as you can tell that she knows the culture and knows some of the nuances of the people and towns that are outside of the larger cities. As I read this book I couldn’t help but think about the Jacob Wetterling Case a little bit, a kidnapping that happened in central Minnesota that went unsolved for 27 years (go HERE for a very well done podcast about the crime, the investigation, and the aftermath). There were many people who thought that it could just never happen there, and whenever something along those lines was said about Pine Valley, my stomach clenched up. Mejia captured the naïveté of a ‘simpler’ life and society very well.

I also thought that all of the perspective characters in this book were written very well. None of them were simple caricatures, when they very easily could have been. The first perspective is from Del Goodman, the sheriff of the county who is in charge of investigating the murder of Hattie Hoffman. He’s a friend of her family and has always known her as a sweet, intelligent girl who had big dreams and a big heart. That is really how most of the town knows her, and Del is determined to bring her killer to justice. He could very, VERY easily fall into the trope of craggy and stubborn sheriff who has seen a lot but never can accept that it ‘could happen here’. But instead he’s pretty level headed and is there to piece together the clues that we get as he finds them. But along with him we get two more perspectives. The first is if Peter, the new English teacher at the school who moved to small town Minnesota with his wife Mary to help his ailing mother in law. He’s a fish out of water from Minneapolis, and Mary has made it clear that she doesn’t see him as robust and ‘manly’ now that he’s on the farm. So when he starts up an online relationship with the mysterious “HollyG”, he finds validation and solace he feels he’s lost at home. Of course, as one could guess, HollyG is Hattie. Peter could VERY easily be portrayed as a predatory and insecure asshole who is merely trying to manipulate and recapture his youth/stroke his ego. But Mejia definitely makes him far more complex than that. He radiates ennui and frustration, and desperation, and while she never lets him off the hook, you can understand how he got on the hook in the first place. And then there’s Hattie. Hattie could either be portrayed as a small town girl with big dreams who gets caught up in her own hopes and wishes…. Or of a man-eater whose ambitions lead to manipulation and abject cruelty all in the name of getting what she wants. However, she really treads the line between both, and instead you get a girl who feels trapped inside a place that is far too small for her, and is desperate to escape by any means necessary. I was expecting to end up hating her, be it because she was too pure or because she was a complete psycho. But she never went that far. And I ended up pleased with that.

Mejia brings these three narratives together to tell a very strong mystery about what happened to Hattie. And I will say, I was definitely taken for quite the ride. There were hints and clues that were dropped that I thought were far too obvious, only for them to be completely different from what I thought. Then there were things that I thought had to be red herrings, that actually ended up being completely legitimate, but framed in such a way that you HAD to think they were misleading! It was a real trip. All of this bundled together to make it so I didn’t know who did it, I wasn’t certain of the motive, and everything I knew was wrong. True, there were a couple of revelations and resolutions that left me feeling a little ‘oh, is that all?’ because of so many well done twists and turns, but ultimately I really enjoyed the path that we had to take to get to the solution to the crime. And boy was it hard for me to put this book down until I had that solution. For the first time in a long while I was at work wishing that the day could just be over already specifically because I wanted to go home and finish this book.

“Everything You Want Me To Be” is the best thriller of the year so far, and it’s going to have to have some pretty stiff competition thrown it’s way to have it overthrown. Definitely, DEFINITELY check this one out if you like thrillers. You will not be disappointed. ( )
  thelibraryladies | Feb 17, 2017 |
***spoiler alert***
"Everything You Want Me to Be" started out as a murder mystery. Hattie, a high school student, is found murdered in an old barn. Subsequent chapters go back in time and work their way forward to present day, each chapter told from a different point of view - Hattie, the sheriff investigating Hattie's murder, and Hattie's English teacher. As each chapter reveals more about Hattie's life, the mystery becomes less of a mystery, but instead of a big reveal, it's a letdown. What started as a promising premise about Hattie's tendency to become whatever the people in her life want her to be - and therefore her tendency to lose herself and never really know who she is - devolves into the trite storyline of precocious high school student having an affair with her unhappily married teacher. Puleez. I held out hope that the affair never happened, that there was more to the story than that, but I was incredibly disappointed when it turned out the affair actually did take place. Once the affair was revealed, it just became a "did the teacher kill her or not" story, which was sooooo been-there-done-that unoriginal. Ugh. ( )
  niaomiya | Feb 15, 2017 |
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