“Every book changes you in some way, whether it’s your perspective on the world or how you define yourself in relation to the world.” (Hattie/Monday, August 27, 2007)
Description: Full of twists and turns, Everything You Want Me to Be reconstructs a year in the life of a dangerously mesmerizing young woman, during which a small town’s darkest secrets come to the forefront…and she inches closer and closer to her death.
High school senior Hattie Hoffman has spent her whole life playing many parts: the good student, the good daughter, the good citizen. When she’s found brutally stabbed to death on the opening night of her high school play, the tragedy rips through the fabric of her small town community. Local sheriff Del Goodman, a family friend of the Hoffmans, vows to find her killer, but trying to solve her murder yields more questions than answers. It seems that Hattie’s acting talents ran far beyond the stage. Told from three points of view—Del, Hattie, and the new English teacher whose marriage is crumbling—Everything You Want Me to Be weaves the story of Hattie’s last school year and the events that drew her ever closer to her death.
Evocative and razor-sharp, Everything You Want Me to Be challenges you to test the lines between innocence and culpability, identity and deception. Does love lead to self-discovery—or destruction?
Mindy Mejia took a somewhat cliched idea of a student-teacher love affair and created a novel that became so much more in “Everything You Want Me To Be.”
The story begins with the murder of high school senior Hattie Hoffman in rural Minnesota. Told from three different perspectives, the chapters alternate between the investigating detective who is a long-time friend of Hattie’s family, Hattie’s English teacher Peter, and Hattie – piecing together the year leading up to her death.
To me, Hattie seemed like a sad, lonely little girl never being herself and unable to figure out who she even was. Killed too soon, Hattie’s insecurities were integral to her actions. She was never comfortable in her own skin and consistently tried to find different ways of acting out.
In the same vein, her English teacher Peter came to Pine Valley on a temporary basis because his wife Mary needed to take care of her mother with congestive heart failure. Having loved their life together in Minneapolis, Peter never imagined that Mary would want to make small-town life permanent, and thus began his own downward spiral as his marriage slowly crumbled around him.
Peter and Hattie were two desperate people looking for a way out of their own lives and by chance, found each other on an internet forum for art and culture in NYC. Although extremely unlikely that two people from the same tiny town in the middle of nowhere would find themselves in an online relationship through a website dedicated to culture in a city thousands of miles away, their relationship also developed so organically that it seemed almost inevitable.
The most successful aspect of this book is all of the twists and turns Mindy Mejia incorporates, making them feel like natural progressions in Hattie’s life. Every time I was sure I knew who the murderer was, a new development came up to dispute it. This was particularly impressive because the suspects never really differed. Overall, Mindy Mejia’s writing style combined with Hattie’s vulnerability made this a quick read that I couldn’t put down.
About the Author:
Mindy Mejia is a Minnesota author whose debut novel, The Dragon Keeper, was published by Ashland Creek Press in 2012. Besides the occasional book review or blog entry, Mindy focuses on the novel and she writes what she likes to read: contemporary, plot-driven books that deliver both entertainment and substance. Her upcoming thriller, Everything You Want Me To Be, will be released by Emily Bestler Books in January 2017.
*I received this ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.