Please note: I received an ARC copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence the opinions of my review in any way.
Synopsis (From GoodReads):
A teenage misfit named Hawthorn Creely inserts herself in the investigation of missing person Lizzie Lovett, who disappeared mysteriously while camping with her boyfriend. Hawthorn doesn't mean to interfere, but she has a pretty crazy theory about what happened to Lizzie. In order to prove it, she decides to immerse herself in Lizzie's life. That includes taking her job... and her boyfriend. It's a huge risk — but it's just what Hawthorn needs to find her own place in the
I am starting to get really into mystery books, and this book, from it's description on NetGalley, seemed like an interesting premise. A girl inserts herself in the life of a missing girl in order to solve the mystery of what happened to her. But, as I read the novel, it became increasingly clear, that this was not a who-done-it, but rather about someone desperately trying to find her place in the world, and the person who exploits that vulnerability.
Note: This review DOES contain some spoilers.
What I Liked:
I do feel the author was successful in showing how hard it can be for teens to "find their tribe". I think until one can find other people who can understand them, people feel very isolated and lonely. I think Hawthorn had a difficult time finding others who got who she was and this made it impossible for her to feel comfortable. High school can be a very lonely place without the support of friends. Hawthorn, being rather immature, relies so heavily on one friend that she begins to drive her away. This is one reason Hawthorn seems so driven to insert herself into the life of Lizzie Lovett, who Hawthorn thinks had the perfect life.
Realizing no one has a "Perfect Life":
Hawthorn is fixated on Lizzie because she thinks that this homecoming queen has an easy life, filled with wonderful friends, love interests, and has a bright future. As the book progresses, she begins to find out how wrong her perceptions were. I think many of us feel that if we only were pretty, or rich, we wouldn't have any problems. I liked that Hawthorn begins to see that all people have problems.
What I Didn't Like:
What were the hundred lives of the title character? we never find out, because it is never explored. I really was interested in how Lizzie's life got off track. To go from homecoming queen at 18 to living alone in a dingy apartment and working at a run-down diner, something must have changed for Lizzie. But it is never delved into. I suppose that the point of it is that we can never know what goes on in other people's lives, but I really wanted to know what happened to Lizzie to have her future change so drastically.
As much as I could identify with her loneliness, I was really turned off by how self-absorbed Hawthorn is. She is completely oblivious to her brother's pain when Lizzie goes missing. There are other points in the book where she doesn't seem to be bothered by doing things like take over Lizzie's job, or get close to Lizzie's boyfriend. She even goes so far as to go to the campsite where Lizzie went missing with Enzo (Lizzie's boyfriend). This was beyond creepy!
Normalizing an inappropriate relationship:
I normally would NOT include spoilers in a review, but I really can't discuss this without getting specific. So my apologies: Hawthorn, who is a very immature 17 year old, becomes close to Enzo, who is 25. Why is a 25 year old even hanging out with a 17 year old? As their relationship evolves, Hawthorn starts to feel like Enzo is the only one who "gets" her. It is clear to me that this is the kind of grooming behavior that one sees in sexual predators. But even at the end of the book, Hawthorn doesn't seem to realize that what happens between her and Enzo is inappropriate and predatory. If she had understood that she had been played, I would have felt better about this part of the story. But as is, I feel this is normalizing older people getting what they want from teens. This is one of the main reasons I had to give this book such a low rating.
Release Date: January 3rd, 2017
Genre: YA Fiction
Recommendation: With unsympathetic characters, and inappropriate relationships, I cannot recommend this book.