Genre: Mystery, Suspense
Publisher: Atria Books
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?
Everything You Want Me to Be is a murder mystery told through three different points of view: the murder victim herself, Hattie, her high school English teacher, Peter, and the local sherif, Del. The perspectives oscillate late between the present and the past. So, the reader is privy to the secrets of the past as Del discovers them.
What I enjoyed most about this novel was Peter’s voice. He’s such a well-constructed character with wants and needs that are put on hold when he’s forced to move in with mother-in-la to help with her sickness. He struggles with his life ambitions and wanting to be a good husband. I sympathized with him completely. Reading his chapters reminded me of how I felt while reading You by Caroline Kepnes. I felt bad for him when I knew I shouldn’t.
Hattie is an interesting character. She’s much more mature than your typical high school student. She dreams of living in New York City while pursuing her goal of becoming an actress. She reminded me a lot of Allison from Pretty Little Liar. The Alison I’m referring to is the Alison in the first few season of the show, not the boring housewife in the current season.
Everything You Want Me to Be is a character driven story more than a murder mystery because they take president over the actual murder. Their thoughts, feelings, and interactions are at the forefront of the story the entire time with only a sprinkling of the mystery. If you do not like the characters after the first few chapters, you will not enjoy the rest of the novel. The resolution is satisfactory, but almost feels like an afterthought.
Overall, this novel was a nice change of pace in the world of mystery/suspense novels. It features compelling characters and great writing. I would definitely recommend it to everyone, especially those who are bored of the genre.