My Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Release Date: January 3, 2017
This book gave me a book hangover.
If you don’t know what that means – it means that it’s GOOD!
I finished this book, and it lingered in my mind for days afterwards as I processed the plot, the themes, the character observations and motivations. I thought about “what ifs” and what twists and turns could have occurred. It takes me a few days to move on from a book like this. That’s a book hangover for me.
This is the murder mystery of Hattie Hoffman, a high school senior soon-to-be graduate in a small Midwestern town. Her passion is acting, and she has big dreams of pursuing acting in a big city. She is alive for most of the book and the plot centers around the events leading up to her murder and after.
There are 3 main characters within the story – Hattie Hoffman; Del Goodman, the town sheriff; and Peter Lund, the English teacher. Each of these characters brings a completely different perspective to the story, and through these perspectives, we find out what really happened to Hattie on the night of her murder.
The reader gets to know Hattie inside and out. Some reviews have described her as “manipulative” and potentially a sociopath, but really, she’s nowhere near a sociopath. If you want to get to know a classic sociopath, read the book Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda. Here’s my review of that book.
Hattie’s actions are more genuine than that. Hattie is charismatic, warm, kind, and what I call a people pleaser, who is one of the nicest and most helpful people that you know. Hattie never says “no.” She spends a great deal of time doing things for other people. This sounds like a good thing. But unfortunately, this is an unhealthy and destructive pattern of behavior for people like Hattie.
In many cases, for those with the people pleaser trait, the intense need to please and care for others is deeply rooted in either a fear of rejection and/or fear of failure. To deal with that anxiety, Hattie does everything that she can to make sure everybody is happy. She changes her personality and behavior for the benefit of others, thus the title of the book, Everything You Want Me to Be. This gift enables her to excel at acting and form relationships with people like Del Goodman and Peter Lund. People see different sides of Hattie depending on what is needed to please them.
This might appear to be your typical murder mystery on the surface, but what elevates this book is the superb writing style. A talented author can take a bland, ubiquitous subject and turn it into beautiful prose. This is exactly what Mindy Mejia did to this story. She keeps the reader engaged and added twists, turns, clues, insightful perspective and kicked it up more than a notch.
Interesting note: It appears that this book was originally published under a different name. The first title is The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman, and here’s the book cover.
Update 11/9/2017: The publisher informed me via Twitter that this book is published in the UK with the title The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman. I stand corrected! Thank you Atria Books!
I loved this unforgettable story. Highly recommend!