Everything You Want Me to Be

In Everything You Want Me to Be, the sophomore novel from Mindy Mejia (The Dragon Keeper), Sheriff Del Goodman of Pine Valley, Minn., a Vietnam vet, has seen plenty of tragedy. But little compares to the devastation of finding Hattie Hoffman murdered in a barn. Del knew her for all 17 years of her too-short life. Like everyone in Pine Valley, Del cannot imagine who would want to harm a much-loved high school senior. His investigations yield few surprises aside from the screen name "LitGeek," a friend Hattie met online and a clue that will lead Del into her darkest secrets.

In chapters alternating between points of view, Mejia reveals the story of Hattie's senior year. Hattie has an incredible gift for acting, fully inhabiting any character she plays. However, all the world is Hattie's stage. She analyzes family, friends and teachers to understand how to play the perfect daughter, the perfect girlfriend, the perfect student, living as a series of fictional constructs to hide the truth of the vacant landscape of her emotions. When handsome, literature-loving Peter Lund moves to town, Hattie feels real passion for the first time. Peter is drawn to her as well, but unfortunately, he's older than Hattie, married--and her English teacher.

The list of murder suspects is short but filled with enough motives to keep early guessers changing their minds. Still, the mystery of the killer's identity sometimes feels secondary to the fascinating layers of Hattie's identity. Readers will surely find this unsettling, character-driven descent into secret desires and hidden faces everything they wanted to see from a talented writer, and then some. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

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