Last night I finished Everything You Want Me To Be by Mindy Mejia. It had been on my TBR list for some time and I was excited to finally grab a copy at the library. I absolutely adore the cover of this book, it just screams dark and twisted. This book was labeled as a thriller/murder mystery, but I’d put it in the sub-genre of “high schoolers having inappropriate relationships with adults/teachers.” I’ve actually read and watched a surprising number of books and shows with this theme lately (The Most Dangerous Place on Earth, Dare Me, Pretty Little Liars, Riverdale, etc.) so I feel like I’m a little burned out, but Everything You Want Me To Be did it well.
The book opens with a dead, mutilated body found in an old shed, which turns out to be that of Herietta “Hattie” Hoffman, all-American high school senior and star of the school play. Hattie is a good student, a promising actress, and a kind, albeit sharp-tongued young woman. She has a happy home life and dreams of moving to New York City after graduating to pursue a career on Broadway. Hattie has no enemies, or so it seems, which makes her death within a small town even more shocking.
The investigation soon reveals that Hattie is having a fiery internet relationship with a stranger named “LG.” But when it turns out that Hattie and LG are less of strangers than they think, he calls their relationship off and sends Hattie spiraling. The story is told from alternating points of view between Hattie, her English Teacher Mr. Lund, and lead detective, Del. The mystery has your classic lead suspects: a lover scorned, the cheated-on spouse, the ex-boyfriend, the jealous best-friend, etc. While there are several minor red-herring moments, the big reveal didn’t prove to be terribly shocking.
This book has a few holes and lose strings, and I found myself being less intrigued in “whodunit” and more invested in Hattie’s illicit relationship with the older man. You start to feel empathetic to the adult in charge, as his and Hattie’s feelings and relationship seem to be genuine, real love. Thinking about this too much made me feel a bit uneasy and sick to my stomach. But, maybe that was the point. An overall enjoyable read.