HMH Books for Young Readers
June 7, 2016
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A read about a teenage girl who wakes up in a hospital bed and cannot remember the last six weeks of her life, including the accident that killed her best friend--only what if the accident wasn't an accident?
Eighteen-year-old Jill Charron wakes up in a hospital room, leg in a cast, stitches in her face and a big blank canvas where the last 6 weeks should be. She comes to discover she was involved in a fatal accident while on a school trip in Italy three days previous but was jetted home by her affluent father in order to receive quality care. Care that includes a lawyer. And a press team. Because maybe the accident...wasn't an accident. Wondering not just what happened but what she did, Jill tries to piece together the events of the past six weeks before she loses her thin hold on her once-perfect life.
Eileen Cook's With Malice is a fun, surprising mystery full of twists and turns. The novel starts at just the right place for leaving readers with the most to question, the most to figure out. We start as Jill is waking up in the hospital, her memory of the last six weeks, of the trip to Italy, of the accident that killed her best friend Simone.
It works really well that we don't see any of Jill (or Simone) before the accident. Readers have to try to piece together what happened just as Jill has to. With her memory gone, she does not know what happened that day. The author does a fantastic job keeping the guessing going. There are alternating chapters of police interviews, media reports, blog posts and more from others on the trip, people that knew the girls and/or people in Italy.
Not everyone's story matches up and these pieces only add to the mystery and the uncertainty. It's never the full story, but just enough to make you wonder, then make you wonder about something else and then question it all, all over again.
Jill's memory loss impacts the story in a great way. Not only does it create the mystery, with her not remembering what happened, it gives others more reason to care about the case, to come up with their own theories which then spin things off in new directions. Possibly more than that, though, it keeps anything from being certain. With conflicting third party reports abounding and any memories Jill begins to have possibly being created by things she's heard (and thus not really memories at all), you really do not know what to believe.
I loved that this one kept you guessing and doled out revelations at, seemingly, just the right time. Only knowing Jill post-accident, you don't know her incredibly well but I liked how we did get to know her and her character and things developed. This one keeps the surprises coming, right up until the end.
Another Book You May Also Enjoy: Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarten