Sunday, May 20, 2012

Book Review: The Girl in the Park by Mariah Fredericks

When a friend writes a book, you always cross your fingers when you read it, hoping it will be as good as you hope and luckily Mariah has succeeded again!

Rain has always been very quiet, trying to just stay out of the way at her school. She has a speech impediment which she has let more or less silence her. In 9th grade, her two friends both leave the prep school Rain goes to, leaving her alone, and also very open to Wendy, a new transfer student. At first things go great. They become best friends despite Wendy's incredible desire for popularity. Thanks to Rain's intense observations, she's able to tell Wendy exactly how to go about it: start with the most popular girl's third-tier friends, and slowly work your way up. Wendy however is impatient. She goes straight to the top and when she gets rejected, she wants revenge. As she starts to act out, hitting on other girls' boyfriends and partying hard, Rain pulls back and they're not good friend anymore after 9th grade. Two years later, Wendy's mother calls to see if Rain knows why Wendy didn't come home last night. A few hours later Wendy's body is found in Central Park.

Despite not being best friends anymore, or perhaps because of it (could she have prevented Wendy's death if they had stayed friends?), Rain feels compelled to look into Wendy's death, especially when she starts to think someone from the school is somehow involved. But to help Wendy, Rain's going to have to learn to finally speak up, which is something Wendy had always encouraged her to do.

I read this book in one day. Every opportunity I had - while at the farmer's market, while at the driving range - I was reading this book. My boyfriend had to literally pry it out of my hands so that I could do the work I had intended to do yesterday. I'm not quite sure how to sub-categorize this book, perhaps YA noir? The mystery angle truly kept me turning the pages hypnotically, trying to figure out along with Rain, whodunit. The red herrings were quite good I thought, having been totally fooled by one of them. And the actual culprit was hinted at along the way, if subtlely, so at the end you don't feel like the revelation came out of left field. The toxic atmosphere of high school is very well depicted, without being over-the-top or stereotypical. It's very neat to see the story told from the point-of-view of the outcast, but not the scapegoat - just a girl on the outskirts.
I think teens would love the book for its honesty and for the excitement. It is partly inspired by the real life "party-girl murder" from the 1980s, as Ms. Fredericks was a teen herself in New York when that high-profile murder took place. This book was a joy to read, and the next day I still can't stop thinking about it. 

This review is a part of Kid Konnection, hosted by Booking Mama, a collection of children's book-related posts over the weekend.

I bought this book at B&N.

1 comment:

Christy said...

I am usually curious about a good YA noir. I think it's my fondness for the Veronica Mars tv show.