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Cartwheel (2013)

by Jennifer DuBois

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4348556,773 (3.24)15
Fiction. Literature. Thriller. HTML:NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
Slate • Cosmopolitan • Salon • BuzzFeed • BookPage

Written with the riveting storytelling of authors like Emma Donoghue, Adam Johnson, Ann Patchett, and Curtis Sittenfeld, Cartwheel is a suspenseful and haunting novel of an American foreign exchange student arrested for murder, and a father trying to hold his family together.
 
When Lily Hayes arrives in Buenos Aires for her semester abroad, she is enchanted by everything she encounters: the colorful buildings, the street food, the handsome, elusive man next door. Her studious roommate Katy is a bit of a bore, but Lily didn’t come to Argentina to hang out with other Americans.
 
Five weeks later, Katy is found brutally murdered in their shared home, and Lily is the prime suspect. But who is Lily Hayes? It depends on who’s asking. As the case takes shape—revealing deceptions, secrets, and suspicious DNA—Lily appears alternately sinister and guileless through the eyes of those around her: the media, her family, the man who loves her and the man who seeks her conviction. With mordant wit and keen emotional insight, Cartwheel offers a prismatic investigation of the ways we decide what to see—and to believe—in one another and ourselves.
 
In Cartwheel, duBois delivers a novel of propulsive psychological suspense and rare moral nuance. No two readers will agree who Lily is and what happened to her roommate. Cartwheel will keep you guessing until the final page, and its questions about how well we really know ourselves will linger well beyond.

WINNER OF THE HOUSATONIC BOOK AWARD • Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more.
“A smart, literary thriller [for] fans of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl.”The Huffington Post
 
“Psychologically astute . . . DuBois hits [the] larger sadness just right and dispenses with all the salacious details you can readily find elsewhere. . . . The writing in Cartwheel is a pleasure—electric, fine-tuned, intelligent, conflicted. The novel is engrossing, and its portraiture hits delightfully and necessarily close to home.”The New York Times Book Review (Editor’s Choice)
 
“Marvelous . . . a gripping tale . . . Every sentence crackles with wit and vision. Every page casts a spell.”—Maggie Shipstead, author of Seating Arrangements
“[You’ll] break your own record of pages read per minute as you tear through this book.”Marie Claire
 
“A convincing, compelling tale . . . The story plays out in all its well-told complexity.”—New York Daily News
“[A] gripping, gorgeously written novel . . . The emotional intelligence in Cartwheel is so sharp it’s almost ruthless—a tabloid tragedy elevated to high art. [Grade:] A-”—Entertainment Weekly
 
“Sure-footed and psychologically calibrated . . . Reviewers of duBois’s first novel, A Partial History of Lost Causes, called it brainy and beautiful, a verdict that fits this successor. . . . As the pages fly, the reader hardly notices that duBois has stretched the genre of the criminal procedural.”Newsday
“The power of Cartwheel resides in duBois’ talent for...
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» See also 15 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 85 (next | show all)
Unsatisfying and anticlimactic, and every character is incredibly pretentious, ignorant, and/or dull. ( )
  deborahee | Feb 23, 2024 |
I disliked everything about this: The details stolen from the Amanda Knox case, the overwrought language, the ceaseless references to the long dead sister, the absurd character Sebastian, the strange troubled marriages of the host family and the prosecutor. All of it.

I admit to skimming past the 50% mark hoping, at least, that the author would have chosen to tell us finally, if Lily was guilty or not but it was left ambiguous.

Very glad that that was borrowed and not purchased.

( )
  hmonkeyreads | Jan 25, 2024 |
This book is clearly fiction, but it draws heavily upon the Amanda Knox case for inspiration. And when I say "inspiration", I mean plot.

It should be stated up front that this book is NOT a suspense book. It's not a mystery. It's not a legal thriller.

It's a book that slowly unveils the psychology of a family in the midst of a crisis. If you like psychological novels where the real action is in the minds of the characters, then this book is one you will embrace. If you are looking for more, I fear you will be disappointed.

After reading Cartwheel, I felt more like I was discovering an author who is going to be a huge talent. First, her vocabulary far exceeds most authors. Her writing is not pretentious, but I did find myself using my Kindle dictionary a LOT, and I feel as though I have a pretty strong vocabulary myself. Second, she reveals her characters in a unique and in depth way. She used a lot of different perspectives, and I liked that as you could see how the crisis was being perceived by each person's eyes. In fact, I would argue that the whole book was about perception . . .and how perception is one's own reality, but that it can be different from actual reality.

If you don't know much about the Amanda Knox case, I feel you'd actually be better off in terms of enjoying this book. If you know a lot about the case, the differences tend to jump out at you . . .and that annoyed me a bit because I think I would have liked the book even more if I wasn't constantly comparing and contrasting the characters to their real life counterparts.I really, really look forward to reading more from this talented author because I think she has five star talent that may not have been totally revealed in Cartwheel. ( )
  Anita_Pomerantz | Mar 23, 2023 |
2.5 Stars
Lily Hayes is spending a semester abroad in Buenos Aires. She's totally intoxicated by the city and her whole experience... at first. She isn't exactly forming a friendship with her roommate Katy, but she finds her tolerable. She meets a mysterious guy living across the street from her, but he turns out to be more than a little odd. Just when Lily starts feeling like she's worn out her welcome in Buenos Aires, Katy turns up dead. With their relationship not being the warm and fuzzy kind, Lily becomes the prime suspect and is arrested after only 2 days.

As you can probably tell: This is a retelling of The Amanda Knox case. It says inspired by the events of the case, but this is more than an inspiration... this is Amanda Knox in Buenos Aires.


My Thoughts:
When I saw that this book was based on the Amanda Knox story, I was immediately interested. I followed that case pretty closely and I'm extremely intrigued by true-crime in general. I love shows like Dateline and 48 Hours, and I used to read true-crime books all the time (before YA took over my life). I thought this would be an awesome mix of 2 things I am really interested in. And it was... it just wasn't original enough for my liking.

When I think a book is going to be inspired by certain events or based on certain things that have really happened, I expect it to be just that: inspired by while also having original parts of the story as well. This book definitely pushed the lines of what I would call "original". It was basically the exact Amanda Knox case with VERY SMALL changes. Like names, location, and a few liberties taken in the details of the relationships, but not much else.

This book is written from a lot of different viewpoints. At first it is Lily's father who is flying to Buenos Aires after Lily is arrested to attempt to help her however he can. Later on we hear from Lily, Sebastian (the guy she's been seeing down there), Lily's sister Anna, and the prosecutor assigned to the murder case. I enjoyed seeing the case from everyone's POV and it allowed for a lot more information to come out.

What I did enjoy about the book was the way it made me look at this case as not a WHO killed Katy, but WHY. Why would someone kill an innocent girl? Why do people do the things they do? Why do people act certain ways? Why would they automatically think that this girl had anything to do with an obvious sexual assault? Those questions were constantly floating through my head as I read this book.

The THING about this book is that I just didn't like ANY of the people in it. They were all so mentally exhausting to me. They could NEVER EVER just act natural. Everything they did and said was thought through to an inconceivable length. Like they were always trying to be silly or happy or whatever instead of just going with how they were actually feeling. If you're feeling silly... act silly!!! Why do you feel the need to contrive it? And it wasn't just Lily who did that. All of the people in this book would consciously think "ok this situation requires me to be [insert emotion], I will show the people here how [insert emotion] I can be". Basically everyone in this book found social interaction painfully difficult.

What I liked about Lily was that she could be so naive at times, and this wasn't fake. This was something she tried to hide. But she really thought the best of people and thought, in general, that people wanted to do right by you. She didn't realize how people will make snap-judgments based on the tiniest things. And that part of her I could relate to. But other things about her weren't so endearing. Like: Lily tried so damn hard to do things that proved she was adult and mature when clearly she was exceedingly immature to an almost laughable degree. For example, she called her parents by their first names instead of mom and dad and she actually called her boyfriends her "lovers" in front of her parents all in an attempt to prove to them (and to herself) that she was grown up. Lily also literally said that she wanted to be friends with an ex-lover in order to seem "sophisticated and mature and continental". It was all just so forced and fake and annoying. And don't get me started on Sebastian. He's basically a nut who talks out of his ass for the entire book. I learned pretty quickly to skim most of his conversational parts because they were just ridiculous.

I was not feeling the father as a father at all. He kept saying how much he loved his daughters, but I wasn't feeling it. The family had a child die from an illness before Lily and her sister Anna was born, so this was supposed to have affected the way he and his wife parented. But all it really did to them was make them afraid of parenting. They never confronted Lily on any of her personality quirks and bottom-line is they raised a daughter who was crass, harsh, and completely unable to see herself at all. Also it really really irked me that he came out and said that he favored Lily. Like the other daughter was only born so Lily would have a playmate or something. How could anyone be like that??

Basically this book started out great, but eventually became a chore to read because of the way it was written. The writing was well done, but at the same time I kept getting the feeling like the author wanted me to think that she was smart by adding all this extra junk. Maybe I'm completely off-base on that, but I found no other reason why these people were written the way that they were.

I will say though that the ending was kind of perfect... and totally chilling.

Quote: "Nobody cartwheels when they're paralyzed with grief.... Lily's cartwheel was damning because it was, like Lily herself, indifferent."

OVERALL: If you followed the Amanda Knox case or like true-crime, this was an interesting look at those things. While I didn't enjoy the characters in this book, I still enjoyed reading about this case. It's definitely a book that needs to find it's correct audience in order to be appreciated.

My Blog:



( )
  Michelle_PPDB | Mar 18, 2023 |
“That's an applicable life lesson, my boy,' he'd said. 'Nobody is really paying attention to you. Most people don't really get this. They think they must count more to other people than other people count to them. They can't believe the disregard could truly be mutual.”
― Jennifer duBois, Cartwheel

I had a difficult time with this one. Maybe it is because I have read similiar books and not all that long ago. For whatever reason I was not able to really get into this book in the way I had thought I would.

It seems books about female friends, one being accused of murdering the other are quite popular these days. And "The Dangerous Girls" is among my all time favorites so I can see why. I had heard about Cartwheel and was anxious to read it. While not awful, it was not the best read for me. Here's why:

Some of the wording in this book was confusing. There was this game I used to play with family and friends way back when called "Dictionary". Someone would look up a word that nobody knew the meaning of and everyone else would write down a "fake" definition. Then the person who had looked up the word, would read all the definitions including the real one and everyone would try to guess which one was the real meaning.

In Cartwheel there were so many words I did not know the meaning of, any "Dictionary" player could just get some of those words here. And I see by some of the reviews there are others who felt the same way.

I like to think I know words pretty well but this was something else again. And I just felt it took away from the story a bit.

Then there is the way all the characters, interacted with each other. I just could not get over the affected way they all spoke and I kept saying to myself, "most people do not talk like this". As a result I always knew I was reading a book and could not become immersed in the story.

I did like some things. I was never really sure whether she was innocent or not. The author did a very good job with that and keeps you guessing.

SPOILERS:

I would have liked to know, at the end, what the truth was, given that as I did invest time in reading it. I know these days, many books end in that abstract way leaving the reader to figure it out but in this case I'd have liked to know. I am not as big a fan of these types of endings as others.

At any rate, there were pluses in reading this book and for someone who can get over the issues I mentioned they may find it highly enjoyable. It was not for me. ( )
  Thebeautifulsea | Aug 6, 2022 |
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Fiction. Literature. Thriller. HTML:NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
Slate • Cosmopolitan • Salon • BuzzFeed • BookPage

Written with the riveting storytelling of authors like Emma Donoghue, Adam Johnson, Ann Patchett, and Curtis Sittenfeld, Cartwheel is a suspenseful and haunting novel of an American foreign exchange student arrested for murder, and a father trying to hold his family together.
 
When Lily Hayes arrives in Buenos Aires for her semester abroad, she is enchanted by everything she encounters: the colorful buildings, the street food, the handsome, elusive man next door. Her studious roommate Katy is a bit of a bore, but Lily didn’t come to Argentina to hang out with other Americans.
 
Five weeks later, Katy is found brutally murdered in their shared home, and Lily is the prime suspect. But who is Lily Hayes? It depends on who’s asking. As the case takes shape—revealing deceptions, secrets, and suspicious DNA—Lily appears alternately sinister and guileless through the eyes of those around her: the media, her family, the man who loves her and the man who seeks her conviction. With mordant wit and keen emotional insight, Cartwheel offers a prismatic investigation of the ways we decide what to see—and to believe—in one another and ourselves.
 
In Cartwheel, duBois delivers a novel of propulsive psychological suspense and rare moral nuance. No two readers will agree who Lily is and what happened to her roommate. Cartwheel will keep you guessing until the final page, and its questions about how well we really know ourselves will linger well beyond.

WINNER OF THE HOUSATONIC BOOK AWARD • Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more.
“A smart, literary thriller [for] fans of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl.”The Huffington Post
 
“Psychologically astute . . . DuBois hits [the] larger sadness just right and dispenses with all the salacious details you can readily find elsewhere. . . . The writing in Cartwheel is a pleasure—electric, fine-tuned, intelligent, conflicted. The novel is engrossing, and its portraiture hits delightfully and necessarily close to home.”The New York Times Book Review (Editor’s Choice)
 
“Marvelous . . . a gripping tale . . . Every sentence crackles with wit and vision. Every page casts a spell.”—Maggie Shipstead, author of Seating Arrangements
“[You’ll] break your own record of pages read per minute as you tear through this book.”Marie Claire
 
“A convincing, compelling tale . . . The story plays out in all its well-told complexity.”—New York Daily News
“[A] gripping, gorgeously written novel . . . The emotional intelligence in Cartwheel is so sharp it’s almost ruthless—a tabloid tragedy elevated to high art. [Grade:] A-”—Entertainment Weekly
 
“Sure-footed and psychologically calibrated . . . Reviewers of duBois’s first novel, A Partial History of Lost Causes, called it brainy and beautiful, a verdict that fits this successor. . . . As the pages fly, the reader hardly notices that duBois has stretched the genre of the criminal procedural.”Newsday
“The power of Cartwheel resides in duBois’ talent for...

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