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Everything You Want Me to Be: A Novel

Everything You Want Me to Be: A Novel

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Everything You Want Me to Be: A Novel

4/5 (104 evaluări)
377 pages
6 hours
Jan 3, 2017


People’s Best New Books Pick * The Wall Street Journal’s Best New Mysteries * Bustle's Best Fiction Books

“Fans of Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl will devour this fast-paced story.”—InStyle

No one knows who she really is…

Hattie Hoffman has spent her whole life playing many parts: the good student, the good daughter, the good girlfriend. But Hattie wants something more, something bigger, and ultimately something that turns out to be exceedingly dangerous. When she’s found brutally stabbed to death, the tragedy rips right through the fabric of her small-town community.

It soon comes to light that Hattie was engaged in a highly compromising and potentially explosive secret online relationship. The question is: Did anyone else know? And to what lengths might they have gone to end it? Hattie’s boyfriend seems distraught over her death, but had he fallen so deeply in love with her that she had become an obsession? Or did Hattie’s impulsive, daredevil nature simply put her in the wrong place at the wrong time, leading her to a violent death at the hands of a stranger?

Evocative and razor-sharp, Everything You Want Me to Be challenges you to test the lines between innocence and culpability, identity and deception. Does love lead to self-discovery—or destruction?
Jan 3, 2017

Despre autor

Mindy Mejia is a CPA and a graduate of the Hamline University MFA program. Her debut novel, The Dragon Keeper, was published by Ashland Creek Press in 2012. She lives in the Twin Cities with her family, and is the author of Strike Me Down, Everything You Want Me to Be, and Leave No Trace.

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Everything You Want Me to Be - Mindy Mejia


HATTIE / Saturday, March 22, 2008


Here I was, standing in the exact place I’d daydreamed about in math class so many times, right in front of the departures board at the Minneapolis airport, and every detail was just like I’d pictured. I was wearing my travel outfit—black leggings, ballet flats, and an oversize cream sweater that swallowed my hands and made my neck look even longer and skinnier than usual. I had my beautiful leather suitcase and enough money in my purse to fly anyplace I’d ever imagined. I could go anywhere. Do anything. So why did I feel so trapped?

I’d snuck out of the house at three o’clock this morning and left a note on the kitchen table that said only, Back later. Love, Hattie. Later, of course, meant anytime after now. Ten years later, maybe. I didn’t know. Maybe it would never stop hurting. Maybe I could never get far enough away. The Love, Hattie part was pushing it a little. My family wasn’t the kind to leave love notes lying around the house, but even if they suspected something fishy, they were never in a million years going to think I was flying across the country.

I could practically hear Mom’s voice. That’s not like Hattie. For Pete’s sake, she’s got less than two months of school before graduation and she’s playing Lady Macbeth in the school play. I know how excited she’s been about that.

I shoved the imaginary voice aside and read the destinations again, hoping to feel any of the exhilaration I’d thought I would feel when I finally escaped Pine Valley. I’d only been on a plane once before, when we’d visited some relatives in Phoenix. I remembered there were a lot of buttons and lights on my seat and that the bathroom looked like a spaceship. I wanted to order something off the snack cart, but Mom had fruit roll-ups in her purse and that’s all we got to eat except peanuts and I didn’t even get those. Greg knew I didn’t like nuts and took mine. I was mad for the rest of the trip, though, because I was pretty sure I would have liked airplane peanuts. That was eight years ago.

Today was going to be my second flight, to my second life.

And I wouldn’t be standing here, feeling paralyzed and miserable, if there had been a seat open on any of the flights to La Guardia or JFK. That was the problem with impulsively deciding to run away from home the day before Easter. The airport looked like Black Friday and the security lines stretched out to the drop-off curb. The earliest available flight to New York was at 6:00 a.m. on Monday and that was too long to wait. I had to get out of this state today.

I could fly to Chicago, but that seemed too close. Too Midwestern. God, why couldn’t there be a seat to New York? I knew exactly what shuttle to take from either airport, exactly what hostel I would stay at and how much it cost and how to get to the closest subway station. I’d spent hours on the internet memorizing New York City, so long that it felt like I’d already moved there and I’d assumed that’s where I was going when I left the house this morning. Now I was stuck looking at this stupid departure board for some second-choice destination. If I couldn’t go directly to New York, I needed to at least get closer to it. There was a 2:20 to Boston. How far was Boston from New York?

Even though I knew it was dumb, I kept glancing at the doors, watching people pour into the airport with their mountains of luggage and their keys and wallets and tickets all jumbled up in their hands. No one was coming to stop me. No one even knew I was here. And even if they did know, would anyone really care? Except for my parents, nobody in the world loved me enough to bother bursting through those doors, yelling my name, desperate to find me before I was gone.

I tried not to cry as I went to the counter for the Boston flight. A tanned, overly perky lady told me there was one seat in coach left.

I’ll take it.

It was $760.00, which was more than I’d spent on anything besides my computer. I handed her my driver’s license and eight crisp one-hundred-dollar bills from the horrible envelope that started all this in the first place. There were two bills left. I stared at them, looking so small and alone in that big white space. I couldn’t put them in my wallet. I’d earned every penny in my wallet and I didn’t want my money to even touch the contents of this envelope. Lost in another wave of depression, I must not have heard what the woman said next.

Miss? She was leaning toward me, obviously trying to get my attention.

There was a man with her now and both of them stared at me like that dream where the teacher’s asking you questions and you didn’t even know there was a homework assignment.

Why are you going to Boston today? the man asked. He looked at my small suitcase.

To have a tea party. I thought that was pretty witty, but neither of them laughed.

Do you have a secondary form of ID?

I dug around in my purse and pulled out my school ID. He looked at it and then the computer.

Do your parents know where you are?

That made me a little panicky, even though I knew I was a legal adult. A few stories popped into my head. I could say my parents were already in Boston waiting for me, or maybe just my dad. He’d separated from my mom and sent me the money at the last minute to spend Easter with him. Or I could go the straight-up orphan route. The tears stopped me, though. Emotion clogged my throat and I knew I couldn’t pull it off. Not when they were already suspicious. So I let the emotion take over instead.

Why don’t you mind your own business? Outraged customer. The airport seemed like a good stage for that.

The people behind me stopped grumbling and started to watch the show.

Look, Miss Hoffman, there are certain protocols we have to follow for a cash purchase of a same-day ticket, especially a one-way ticket. I’m going to have to ask you to come with me while we check this out.

There was no way I was going to get locked in some Homeland Security office while he called my parents and made this day ten thousand times worse. What if he could figure out who withdrew the envelope money? Did they have ways to do that? I reached over the counter and grabbed the bills and my IDs.

Then I’m going to have to ask you to shove your ticket up your ass.

Should I call security? The woman—who had totally dropped her perky act—picked up the phone and started dialing without waiting for an answer.

Don’t bother; I’m leaving. See me leaving? I grabbed my bag and wiped my eyes with the back of the fist that had crumpled all the money into a sweaty ball.

Why don’t you calm down, Miss Hoffman, and we’ll—

Why don’t you calm down? I cut the guy off with a glare. I’m not a terrorist. I’m sorry you don’t want my eight hundred dollars for your crappy seat to Boston.

Someone in line shouted out a cheer, but most of the crowd just stared as I wheeled my bag away, probably trying to decide what kind of bomb I was going to smuggle on the plane. Takes all kinds, Velma. Nudge, nudge. You wouldn’t suspect her of anything, would you?

I ran to the parking garage and had no idea how I got to my truck or paid the attendant, it was such a blur. My heart was pounding. I checked behind me every second, paranoid that some security guard was going to chase me down. And then once I got on the freeway, the sobbing started. I almost hit a minivan, my hands were shaking so bad. It wasn’t until a half an hour later that I realized I was headed back to Pine Valley. The Twin Cities had already disappeared and unplanted fields stretched as far as I could see.

This was what happened when you let yourself need someone.

This crap heap was what you turned into when you fell in love.

I was so happy—so free and above it all—when I started senior year last fall. That Hattie was ready to take on the world and she would have, damn it, she could have done anything. And now I was a pathetic, sobbing mess. I had become the girl I’d always hated.

Suddenly the radio cut out and the lights on the dash started flickering. Shit. I panicked as other cars flew past me. Spotting a turnoff up ahead, I swerved onto a gravel road that bisected two fields, eased off the gas, and let the truck coast to a stop. When I put it into park the engine coughed and then died completely. I tried the key. Nothing. I was stranded in the middle of nowhere.

Falling across the seat, I sobbed into the scratchy fabric until I had to puke and then stumbled out of the truck into the ditch, heaving up only coffee and stomach acid.

A cool wind whipped across the fields. It dried the sweat that had broken out on my forehead and helped the sickness to pass. I crawled away from the vomit and sat on the side of the ditch, letting the soggy ground turn my pants and underwear cold.

I stayed there for a long time, long enough that I didn’t feel the chill anymore. Long enough that the tears stopped and something else started.

I was totally alone except for the cars passing on the freeway and I realized that—for the first time I could remember—I didn’t want to be anywhere else on earth. I didn’t want to be trapped in a cramped airplane seat, flying to a strange city with nowhere to go after the plane landed. I didn’t want to be onstage with the lights up and a full audience watching my every move. I didn’t want to be lying in my bed alone while Mom cooked some dinner I didn’t have the stomach to eat. There was something so comforting about the blankness of the land around me, the empty fields edged with naked trees and patches of stubborn snow.

No one knew I was here. Suddenly that fact was wonderful. I could have said it my whole life to everyone I’d ever met—No one knows I’m here—and they would have laughed and rolled their eyes and patted me on the back. Oh brother, they’d say, but it was true. I’d spent my entire life playing parts, being whatever they wanted me to be, focused on everyone around me while inside I’d always felt like I was sitting in this exact spot: curled up in the middle of a dead, endless prairie, without a soul in the world for company. Now that I was here it all made sense. Everything clicked, just like it does in the movies when the heroine realizes she’s in love with the stupid guy, or she can achieve her All-American, underdog dreams, and the music amps up and she walks, like, determinedly out of some random room. It was just like that, except without the sound track. I was still sitting in a ditch in the middle of nowhere, but everything on the inside suddenly changed.

I heard my mother’s voice again. I remembered what she said last night when I was too busy sobbing on her shoulder to listen or understand.

Get off the stage, sweetheart, she said. You can’t live your life acting for other people. Other people will just use you up. You have to know yourself and figure out what you want. I can’t do that for you. Nobody can.

I knew exactly who I was—for maybe the first time ever—and exactly what I wanted and what I had to do to get it. It was clarity. Like waking up from a dream where you thought things were real and then feeling the actual world come into focus all around you. I stood up—ready to ditch this pathetic, crying girl forever. Good effing riddance.

Gerald’s old camcorder was tucked in the top of my suitcase. I pulled it out and set it up on the back of the pickup, hitting the record button on a brand-new tape and centering myself in front of the lens.

Okay, hi. I wiped my eyes, breathing deep into my diaphragm the way Gerald taught me. This is me now. My name is Henrietta Sue Hoffman.

And by the time I was done with Pine Valley, no one would ever forget who I was.

DEL / Saturday, April 12, 2008

THE DEAD girl lay faceup in a corner of the abandoned Erickson barn, half floating in the lake water that flooded the lowest part of the sinking floor. Her hands rested on her torso over some frilly, bloodstained cloth that must have been a dress, and below the hem her legs stretched bare and shocking into the water, each swollen to the size of her waist and floating like manatees in the dirty lagoon. The upper half of her body had no relation to those legs. I’d seen slashed-up bodies before and a share of floaters, too, but never both nightmares lying side by side in the same corpse. Even though her face was too mutilated to ID, there was only one report of a missing girl in the entire county.

Must be Hattie. That from Jake, my chief deputy.

Dispatch had gotten the call from the youngest Sanders boy, who’d found her when he and some girl snuck out here. There was a fresh spot of puke, just inside the crooked door, where one of them had lost it before they’d made their escape. I didn’t know if it was that or the dead stink that made Jake gag a little when we first came in. Normally I would’ve made a point to rib him about it, but not now. Not staring down at this.

I unhooked the camera from my belt and started snapping pictures, angling out and then in, trying to get her from every side without slipping into the water next to her.

We don’t know it’s Hattie yet. The sudden stone in my gut aside, we had to do this by the book.

As soon as we’d walked in the door I’d called the crime lab up in the cities and requested a forensics team to tag and bag every last scrap of evidence. We had maybe an hour alone with her before they got here.

Who else could it be? Jake moved around her head, watching his step as the boards groaned underneath his ex–defensive tackle weight. He leaned in closer and I could see the lawman had clicked on in his brain.

Can’t make a positive ID with her face like that, especially since she’s already bloating. No rings or jewelry. No visible tattoos.

Where’s her purse? I’ve never met a girl that didn’t keep one glued to her hip.

Taken, maybe.

Hell of a place for a robbery/murder.

Don’t get ahead of yourself. ID first. I crouched down next to her. With a gloved finger, I nudged her lip open and saw her teeth were intact. Looks like we can go dental.

Jake checked the dress for pockets, didn’t find any.

Cause of death, stabbing, most likely. I pulled up one of her hands and saw the knife wound either right at or just above her heart.

Most likely? Jake snorted.

I ignored him and lifted her arm up a little farther to reveal where the white skin on top met the red skin underneath.

See that? I pointed to the line separating the colors. That’s liver mortis. When the blood stops pumping it gets sucked down by gravity and pools at the lowest spots. That’s how you can tell if a body’s been moved, if the red isn’t on the bottom like it should be.

We checked a few other places on her. Looks right. This is probably our murder scene.

I kept at the teaching line and focused on the body as just another set of remains. I’d seen hundreds, mostly in Vietnam, of course, and right now I would’ve even gone back there rather than think about who belonged to this wrecked corpse.

I showed Jake the poke test.

If you poke the pale part of the skin and it flushes red, it’s been less than half a day.

So the blood settles within twelve hours.

Mm-hmm. The skin under my gloved finger stayed white. There wasn’t any blood to show beneath it. So she’d been here since at least the early morning.

The barn floor croaked a warning and we both eased back.

This place is going to fall in on our heads.

I doubt it. It’s been like this for the last ten years at least.

I’d seen this barn almost every weekend during the summertime, from fishing opener to frost, leaning into the east bank of Lake Crosby like it was watching the sunnies dart under the surface. Seen was probably saying too much, though. Sure, I knew it was there, as good a landmark for fishing as the public beach on the exact opposite bank, but I’d never stopped to look at the old Erickson barn for who knew how long. That’s how it always was with things right next to you. Lars Erickson abandoned the building twenty years ago when he sold most of the lakeshore to the city and put up new barns next to his prefab house on the other side of the property, a good mile away. The only visitors this old girl had, besides the lake itself that lapped up during flood years, were teenage kids like the Sanders boy who wanted somewhere private to have sex and smoke joints.

Just about all the place boasted was privacy. It was one big room, a twenty- by thirty-footer, with empty rafters except for the remains of a hay loft on the end that dipped into the lake. The double-wide doors opened on the opposite side and there was a hole in the wall where a window used to be.

With the heavy rains and unseasonably early snowmelt this spring, the water had come up to cover a fourth of the floor and it was full of cigarette butts and empty rolling paper packets, along with something that might have been a ziplock bag or a condom.

Jake followed my gaze.

Think our murder weapon is in there?

The team will find it if it is. They’re thorough. Some counties had their own crime labs, whole departments of analysts and investigators, but not us. This was misdemeanor country and most of our felonies were the usual drugs and domestic violence, nothing that justified the extra payroll. It had been over a year since I’d called the boys from Minneapolis out for anything.

If this isn’t Hattie, it’s a transient for sure. There’s no one else reported missing in five counties.

You include Rochester in that deduction?

Hmm. He thought about that.

See if you can find anything outside the entrance. I handed him the camera and crept back out toward the edge of the water. It hardly creaked without Jake there—compared to him I suppose I was tiny, whittled down to bone and gristle after thirty years on the job. I squatted next to the girl and cupped my jaw in one hand, looking for what I wasn’t seeing. She was drained pale and her face was turned slightly to one side. Her eye sockets, pooled with dried blood, had caught some of her hair. The cuts were mainly to her eyes and cheeks, short jabs except for one long diagonal slash from her temple to her jaw. An exclamation point. Except for the stab wound to the chest the rest of the body was fairly clean. Someone wanted this face to go away pretty bad.

I glanced over at Jake to make sure he was out of earshot, before leaning close.

Henrietta? It always riled her when I used her given name, which was why I’d done it for practically eighteen years. Everyone’d called her Hattie since the day she came home from the hospital with a lacy bow tied around her sweet, bald head. That memory just about undid me, so I cleared my throat and made sure Jake was still busy before conceding the name I’d jokingly refused to use in life. Hattie?

I wasn’t expecting a reaction or a dove from God or anything, but sometimes you have to say something out loud and see how the words land, how they end up sitting in your gut. These words felt like knives inside me. I stared at her build, the long brown hair, the skimpy dress too early for the season. No matter what I’d said to Jake, these details told me who I was looking at when I first walked in the barn.

When Bud came into my office this morning and told me he had to file a missing persons on Hattie, both of us figured she’d taken off. Nothing that girl ever wanted more than to get out of town, but Bud’s wife wasn’t so sure. Hattie was starring in her high school play this weekend and Mona didn’t think for one second that Hattie would leave town before finishing the show. Some Shakespeare play. Mona also said Hattie wouldn’t’ve left two months before graduation. What she said made sense, but hell would freeze over before I bet on the common sense of a teenager. I put out the standard missing persons alert, all the while thinking Bud and Mona would get an email from her next week saying she was in Minneapolis or Chicago.

Now, as I stared down at what was probably the remains of my fishing buddy’s only daughter, a worse question started tearing at me, the question that would gut Bud’s life as easily as we’d gutted sunnies and carp not five hundred yards from this very spot.

Who could have murdered Hattie Hoffman?

By the time the crime lab team arrived and the ambulance negotiated the overgrown trail to the barn to load up the body, I’d already gotten two dozen phone calls. The only one I answered was from Brian Haeffner, Pine Valley’s mayor.

Is it true, Del?

I stood off to the side while the forensics boys combed over the entire barn like ants at a picnic.

Yeah, it’s true.

Accident? Brian sounded hopeful.


You’re telling me we’ve got a murderer on the loose?

I walked outside and spat near the side of the barn, trying to loosen the dead taste from my mouth. The grass was untrampled, waving toward the lake in a light wind.

I’m saying we’ve got an open homicide case on an as-yet-unidentified victim and that’s all I’ll be saying.

You’ll have to make a statement. We’ll have every news station in the state calling.

Brian always exaggerated the hell out of everything. He’d likely get a few calls from the County Gazette. The truth was, his wife probably wanted to know all the details so she could spread it around at Sally’s Café, where she baked muffins every morning. Brian and I went back pretty far, since we were both long-standing public officials. We endorsed each other every time an election rolled around and he was a good mayor, but I couldn’t take more than one drink with him at a time. He yammered on about every little thing and was always wanting to know about cases and crime trends. Sometimes he reminded me of one of those excitable dogs that can’t stop licking your hand.

You just got my statement, Brian. We’ll release the victim’s ID when it’s confirmed.

I need to know if the town’s at risk, Del.

So do I.

I hung up on him and pocketed the phone as one of the medics walked over.

Sheriff, we’re ready to take her in.

Okay, I’ll follow later. I’ve got some things to check first.

Some leads? The girl looked hopeful. I’d never seen her before—she wasn’t from the county.

No such thing as leads. I walked back into the barn. You either got the guy or you don’t.

The forensic boys bottled and bagged everything that wasn’t nailed down and dragged every inch of the water in the barn. They turned up an empty wine bottle, a kerosene lantern, five empty cigarette packs, some generic matchbooks, and three used condoms.

I watched as they taped up the door and window.

Jake came up next to me. No murder weapon.

Nope. We waited for the team to finish up and clear out. They’d found a few hairs and were going to test the condoms, too, to see if there was any DNA left. Beyond that, they’d hold the rest until we either told them what we needed or closed the case.

After their vans disappeared over the horizon, there was only the sound of the wind drying out the fields and an occasional sparrow call from the lake. It was easier to think that way.

She was in the far corner from the door.

So she either got backed up into the corner or someone found her there. Jake was right with my line of thought. This was why I’d picked him as my chief deputy.

No visible wounds or marks on her hands, so there wasn’t much of a struggle. I walked toward the barn door and faced out, like I’d just left. Farmland stretched to the horizon in gentle hills in every direction, empty fields shedding the last of their snow. There wasn’t a single house or building in sight of the barn. He kills her and heads out. Doesn’t leave the knife. He needs to get away and deal with the weapon and his clothes.

Jake pointed at the trail that circled around the lake toward the beach and the boat launch. That’s our best bet. He parked in one of the lots and went back the same way.

It’s either that or cross-country to the highway or past the Erickson house to Route 7. Both are about a mile.

Why would he park so far away? Doesn’t make sense.

No, it doesn’t. But most killers are stupid. And they usually don’t plan on killing anybody, so they don’t think about details like the best getaway route.

Jake grunted to let me know he wasn’t on board with a cross-country escape.

We’re going to need dogs to go over the fields. A mile in every direction. Call Mick in Rochester. And get the boat out on the lake with a metal detector. The killer might have tossed the knife in on his way back to the car.

I agree with that. I’ll have them go over every inch of the lake and shore.

We left the scene and bumped the cruisers back over the fields to Winifred Erickson’s house. Jake kept on going toward town, but I tried her door first. No answer. Didn’t mean she wasn’t home. Most folks around here threw open the screen door at the first dust trail over the horizon, but Winifred took her notions. Sometimes she’d go weeks without showing her face in town, and I’d been sent more than once to see if she’d fallen over dead in her kitchen. She never answered the door until I was ready to bust it down and then it was with curlers tying up the leftover strands of gray on her scalp and Lars’s old pipe jutting out of her mouth, asking me if I knew how much doors cost and was I damn ready to buy her a new one. A few days later she’d appear on Main Street again, as friendly as you please. She’d been odd like that ever since she killed her husband.

I left her a note about the dog search and headed back to town.

The phones were ringing like fire alarms when I got into the office, but Nancy wasn’t at the desk. I found her in the break room getting a cup of coffee. Jake was scarfing down a sandwich while holding his phone.

I’m on hold with Rochester, he got out between bites. Glad to see the kid’s appetite wasn’t affected by a mutilated corpse.

Grab me some coffee, too, Nance, will you?

They won’t stop, Del. They’ve been pouring in like water since about twenty minutes after you got called out there.

Who? Jake asked.

Everybody I’ve ever met, for starters, and I’m telling them to keep their noses in their own business. But the papers, too, and Shel called to see if you wanted him to come in.

Shel was one of our four full-time deputies. With only twelve people in the whole office, we were gonna be pretty thin on the ground during a murder investigation.

How the hell did he hear about it so quick?

He’s cousin to the Sanders. They called him as soon as the boy came home.

No, tell him we’re fine. Jake can take any emergencies from here.

But I’ve got to open the case, Jake protested.

I’m opening this case.

I lead the investigations unit, Del.

And I’m the sheriff of this county.

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  • (4/5)
    I finished this book a few days ago, but it has stuck with me ever since. It's been a while since I've read something that I've enjoyed this much!

    I loved the fact that the story was told from three different points of view. Hattie is dead, but throughout the book we're given the story in her words, seeing it in through her eyes. It's an interesting technique that makes it easier to forgive Hattie's transgressions, because we know what's going to happen to her.

    Hattie is easy to relate to; she's a high schooler with big dreams to move to New York. She's naive and convinced that Peter, her English teacher, will leave his wife for her. While it's hard to sympathize with someone who tries to split a family apart, hearing Hattie's story in her own words helps the reader understand that she's misguided, naive, and doesn't understand the possible ramifications of her actions.

    Peter, on the other hand, knows exactly what he's getting into. He falls in love with Hattie before he realizes who she is; they "meet" online and don't reveal their real names. However, as soon as he discovers that she's he's student, he tries to end the relationship. It's harder than he expects, for numerous reasons.

    A third of the story is told by Del, the local sheriff and Hattie's fathers good friend. Del knew Hattie her whole life, and feels a personal responsibility for solving a crime that has very few suspects and very little evidence.

    I enjoyed the references to literature throughout the book, and liked that the author incorporated the Macbeth curse. The author did a good job of letting us get to know some minor characters - Portia, Hattie's overly-dramatic best friend; Winifred, Peter's neighbor who murdered her husband - without letting them take over the story.

    Up until the moment the murderer was revealed, I was in the dark. Maybe that just proves my lack of detective skills, but I loved the suspense up until the very last second.

    I received an advanced reader's copy of this cook from Netgalley, and enjoyed every bit of it.
  • (4/5)
    I finished this book a few days ago, but it has stuck with me ever since. It's been a while since I've read something that I've enjoyed this much!

    I loved the fact that the story was told from three different points of view. Hattie is dead, but throughout the book we're given the story in her words, seeing it in through her eyes. It's an interesting technique that makes it easier to forgive Hattie's transgressions, because we know what's going to happen to her.

    Hattie is easy to relate to; she's a high schooler with big dreams to move to New York. She's naive and convinced that Peter, her English teacher, will leave his wife for her. While it's hard to sympathize with someone who tries to split a family apart, hearing Hattie's story in her own words helps the reader understand that she's misguided, naive, and doesn't understand the possible ramifications of her actions.

    Peter, on the other hand, knows exactly what he's getting into. He falls in love with Hattie before he realizes who she is; they "meet" online and don't reveal their real names. However, as soon as he discovers that she's he's student, he tries to end the relationship. It's harder than he expects, for numerous reasons.

    A third of the story is told by Del, the local sheriff and Hattie's fathers good friend. Del knew Hattie her whole life, and feels a personal responsibility for solving a crime that has very few suspects and very little evidence.

    I enjoyed the references to literature throughout the book, and liked that the author incorporated the Macbeth curse. The author did a good job of letting us get to know some minor characters - Portia, Hattie's overly-dramatic best friend; Winifred, Peter's neighbor who murdered her husband - without letting them take over the story.

    Up until the moment the murderer was revealed, I was in the dark. Maybe that just proves my lack of detective skills, but I loved the suspense up until the very last second.

    I received an advanced reader's copy of this cook from Netgalley, and enjoyed every bit of it.
  • (5/5)
    It's not very often that I add a title to my list of favorite books, and I've never felt the burning desire to create a shelf for my favorite reads on Goodreads - that is, until this moment. After finishing up with Mindy Mejia's Everything You Want Me to Be, I am nearly speechless. What Mejia has pulled off in her book is nothing short of a impressive.

    One of the things that caught my interest when I was browsing through titles to request on NetGalley was the synopsis for this novel, which I found to be unique. Most books give you a loose summary of the plot, sans spoilers. It's the information that you usually find on the back of a book, really. That little tidbit of information for Everything You Want Me to Be came defied the norm in that regard by blatantly telling potential readers that they would be following the life of a girl up until her death which, if you ask me, is a pretty big spoiler: one that leaves a challenge at that. If you tell your readers that the main character is dead, the question that remains is this: how are you going to keep them hooked? Mejia's reply to that query comes in the form of a plot full of nerve-wracking twists and turns that, no matter how certain a reader might be, is likely to still leave them searching for answers. (I was actually guessing until the very end how this book would play out, and I did not figure it out until the very last moment, when there were only lines left until the major reveal.)

    Everything You Want Me to Be is a whodunnit novel - of that, I have no doubt. Eighteen-year-old Henrietta Hoffman, full of talent and with her whole life ahead of her, is murdered. It was someone close to her, according to evidence, and its left to the sheriff, who happens to be the girl's father's best friend, to find out who's behind it. It is also a psychological thriller. Reading this book, I felt things I did not want to feel. Where I felt I should be directing anger and disgust, I could not; in fact, my least favorite character is actually the victim, rather than the various suspects I encountered as I read.

    Henrietta, or Hattie as she prefers to be called, is a typical teen-aged girl, facing the usual obstacles of small town life. Having been in her shoes, I was able to connect with her and, in some ways, relive my own past as I read through her dialogue. Born and raised in rural south Minnesota, Hattie has dreams of the Big Apple. Every moment of her free time is spent focusing on those dreams, and while she's browsing through a forum, she meets a guy that she ends up falling in love with. Through private messages, a relationship blooms, and she and this guy embark upon a journey with an unknown destination. It's a pretty easy web to get caught up in, especially when one spends most of their time pleasing other people, which Hattie obviously does.

    The book is told from three perspectives in total: Henrietta's, Peter's, and Del's. Peter is a teacher at her school and Del is the town's sheriff. In addition to these three vastly different points-of-view, there is a plethora of minor characters and, surprisingly enough, they all have their own quirks and flaws. I have to admit I'm actually impressed by how much depth there is to Mejia's characters and that she's written them in such a way that it's easy to remember their traits. More often than not, when there's so many characters to flesh out, it is way too easy to lose track of individual character traits.

    I can't say a whole lot about the plot's flow really. To be honest, it is a bit all over the place. Considering that Everything You Want Me to Be is written in a loose journal-style and one of the speakers is the sheriff, that is to be expected. Obviously there isn't much of a need to include him prior to the discovery of Hattie's body. Also, the story starts at the end, then hooks back to a year prior to the murder. Fortunately, each shift in voice is dated, so it's not too much of a challenge to keep up with.

    Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an advance copy for the purpose of an unbiased review. I can't wait for a chance to purchase a physical copy of this book for my shelf!
  • (5/5)
    Loved this book
  • (4/5)
    I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review itself.Hattie is a high school senior who thinks she has discovered the key to success in life--be a great actress, and play the roles each person wants from her. But then she is murdered, and secrets of her inner life, and the small town she lived in, are revealed.Mejia uses three narrators to tell the story, and she uses them well. Each storyteller-Hattie herself, the town sheriff, and the new English teacher-bring something new and important to the tale. And each of the three are hiding things, big and small, that makes a reader wonder just how much they can be trusted.The structure of the book works really well as well. While the book itself opens with Hattie's murder, Hattie tells her story from many months before. Readers know where her tragic tale is going to end, but Hattie does not, and this builds up a sense of foreboding and suspense.The twists are well-plotted and the mystery is an intriguing one.There really wasn't anything I didn't like in this book. The only thing I would say is that, in my opinion, I didn't find it as good as works by Gillian Flynn, for example (an author Mejia is already being compared to). This was a good book, I just didn't love it as much as some of my absolute favorites. It's a book I really enjoyed reading, but don't see myself needing to own or re read.I would definitely recommend fans of psychological thrillers pick this one up. It's a well-told, complex story with an excellent mystery woven in.
  • (3/5)
    When the story begins, eighteen-year-old Hattie is running away from her small Minnesota town to New York City, but is stopped at the airport and returns home; a couple of weeks later, she is dead, stabbed to death in a remote abandoned barn. The story is narrated by three characters--the sheriff investigating the murder, Hattie's English teacher, Peter, and Hattie herself--and it jumps around in time to describe the events leading up to the murder. This review will contain unmarked spoilers.Mejia is a good author, she has depicted her characters well, and her skill ultimately made this book so much more infuriating than I think it would have been if it were simply another bad thriller. Hattie is a precocious but otherwise normal teenage girl, trying on various identities and figuring out who she wants to be, and not only is she brutally murdered because of this, but at the end, it is used against her to justify her own murder. Peter, her teacher, is a character I loathed almost from the beginning, but I think we are meant to sympathize with him. He estranges himself from his wife simply because she becomes wrapped up in caring for her dying mother--showing no empathy for the pain she is going through--and begins flirting with Hattie online, neither of them knowing who the other is. They start an online affair--bad enough--but when Hattie figures out who Peter is and reveals herself to him, he only weakly tries to get off the damaging path he is on. After a few protests, he continues the affair physically, rationalizing it in so many unconvincing ways: Hattie just turned eighteen and is an adult, he can't help himself, she wouldn't "let" him stop. Hattie is naive and inexperienced, and unless your age also ends in "teen," you have no justification for sleeping with one. None. Peter is the adult, he can help himself, he is fundamentally selfish and terrible to his wife, and I just despised him. Honestly, I kept reading not because I thought he killed Hattie, but because I wanted to see if he would get some comeuppance. Major spoiler alert! No, he doesn't, not really, and the sheriff--who up until the end I had actually liked--seems to become sympathetic to Peter and his "plight," to the point where he concludes that Hattie's playing at different roles was what got her killed and that maybe she deserved to be murdered. No, she did not. She didn't deserve to be taken advantage of by an adult, either, or treated like a possession by her football-player boyfriend. I have read this kind of thing before (including in the news), but I expected a bit more nuance from a female writer (which maybe I shouldn't have), and Mejia's talent only made the whole thing more gross--particularly in light of the current exposure of pervasive sexual harassment, especially directed at young women. I finished this book feeling angry and wondering when adult men will actually be held as responsible for their actions as all girls and women, no matter what their age, are.
  • (4/5)
    I would like to thank NetGalley, and Atria publishing for the ARC of "Everything You Want Me to Be" by Mindy Mejia. I would highly recommend this book as an intriguing mystery with many twists and turns. The author starts the story with a murder of an 18 year old senior(one of the main characters) who has met with a gruesome death.The other two main characters are the Sheriff of the town, and the English teacher of the school where the victim went. In this novel, there are other complex characters. The victim is a talented young lady who loved drama and acting, and was conflicted about her future after finishing high school. Mindy Mejia writes about 18 year old students, their families , friends, teachers, and neighbors in a small town. There is jealousy, betrayal,and anger. Some of the characters are quirky and not likeable. There are suspects, and one has to follow carefully to come to a conclusion. Not only is this suspenseful story, but there is also romance.
  • (5/5)
    Each chapter has a heading like this: HATTIE / Saturday, March 22, 2008.The first part of the heading tells the reader who is telling this part of the story, and the second, of course, is the date of their telling. Quite often I ignore chapter headings but in this case they are the clue not only to the timeline of the story, but also to who is speaking. Part of the reader's job is to get the timeline in order.We see the action and events from three points of view, and of course the character who is speaking doesn't always know what the other characters know. This lets the reader fill in the gaps and accumulate what looks like a complete picture.Hattie Hoffman has always envisaged that she will escape the claustrophobia of her home town . She wants to become an actress and go to New York. In a sense she has always been an actress: she herself recognises that she is always playing a part, changing like a chameleon according what her audience, her friends, her parents, want or expect to see.So this is the story of Hattie's coming of age, but even as Hattie falls in love, she is playing a part, and tries to manipulate those around her, seriously underestimating the impact she is having on those around her. Her own expectations are a combination of immaturity and her growing sexuality. Hattie has a lot of secrets, and those closest to her are amazed at what comes out when Sheriff Del Goodman investigates the circumstances surrounding her death.And just when I thought the plot was sorted, there was a very peculiar twist.
  • (4/5)
    Everything You Want Me To Be is Mindy Mejia's second novel.Hattie Hoffman is in her last year of high school in a small town. She dreams of moving to New York and becoming the person she wants to be. Only Hattie knows who that is. You see, she changes herself to suit who she is with - family, friends, neighbours, boyfriend - and where she is - alone, school, home or on the stage. Hattie is the consummate actress. And it's going to get her killed......"Fit the character to the play. You knew you were playing it right when your audience was happy." "I was a million different things depending on who I talked to or how I felt."The reader is told of Hattie's death in the first chapters. From there the timeline flips from past to present, told in three voices - Hattie's, Del - the local Sheriff tasked with finding her killer, and Peter, her high school English teacher.Hattie is a complicated character. I did like her drive and dreams. But on the other hand, how she tries to achieve them is at the expense of others and her manipulations left a sour taste in my mouth. But do we ever know who the real Hattie is? Peter - well, I have no words for him. He is shallow, weak and self deceptive. There are other characters that we only come to know through the interactions with the three main characters. Peter's wife Mary, without having a voice of her own, was the one character I was quite drawn to. Del, the Sheriff, is the other character who I sided with.Mejia's plot explores many different relationships and themes. Innocence, guilt, lust, love, deception and more. And at the heart of it all - who killed Hattie? I liked the slow pacing of the investigation as Del puzzles out the whodunit without the benefit of the reader's inside knowledge. And the final reveal wasn't who I expected.Everything You Want Me To Be was a different read, but quite good. I would pick up another book by Mejia
  • (4/5)
    This book was a great psychological thriller and had great character development. The story was told from three different points of view, Del, the sherif who is investigating the murder, Hattie, the high school senior who has been murdered and Peter, the English teacher who is involved with Hattie. Be prepared for an emotional ride and lots of twists and turns. The ending is quite a surprise! Throughout this story. I wondered if only these characters had made different choices things could have turned out differently. Putting the mystery aside,this is a story about the consequences of our actions and the affect it has not only our lives but those who we love. I would highly recommend this book. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
  • (3/5)
    ***spoiler alert***"Everything You Want Me to Be" started out as a murder mystery. Hattie, a high school student, is found murdered in an old barn. Subsequent chapters go back in time and work their way forward to present day, each chapter told from a different point of view - Hattie, the sheriff investigating Hattie's murder, and Hattie's English teacher. As each chapter reveals more about Hattie's life, the mystery becomes less of a mystery, but instead of a big reveal, it's a letdown. What started as a promising premise about Hattie's tendency to become whatever the people in her life want her to be - and therefore her tendency to lose herself and never really know who she is - devolves into the trite storyline of precocious high school student having an affair with her unhappily married teacher. Puleez. I held out hope that the affair never happened, that there was more to the story than that, but I was incredibly disappointed when it turned out the affair actually did take place. Once the affair was revealed, it just became a "did the teacher kill her or not" story, which was sooooo been-there-done-that unoriginal. Ugh.
  • (4/5)
    This was a very good book that makes you think about the slippery slopes we navigate in our decision making. While a major focus is a young immature girl with some personality issues, I was intrigued by the teacher who unfortunately risked everything for her.
  • (4/5)
    High school student Hattie Hoffman is a determined, relentless and manipulative character who goes after what she wants - her married English Lit teacher - with a focus that is unwavering. I'm from Minnesota, where this story takes place, and the people who inhabit the town of Pine Valley really ring true to me - the author did a great job on that. As I read, I smugly decided that I knew who murdered Hattie, which turned out to be totally wrong. I appreciated that the author took her time with the ending, dealt with all of the characters properly, and didn't finish abruptly as so many authors do. I would recommend this book.
  • (5/5)
    It takes awhile to learn that seventeen year old Hattie Hoffman is a sociopath. Longing to be popular and known for her acting talents, living in a small midwestern town, she aims to move to New York when she graduates high school. Like most of her dreams, she does not possess the ability to plan how to exactly accomplish a goal without realizing the consequences. She is extremely extroverted and pretends to care about all who she knows. Changing her personality to blend in with all circumstances, before they realize it, many are used and manipulated by her charmsRunning full steam ahead with emotions flying high, she smiles and endears herself to all who come under her radar. She experiments on the internet and finds someone anonymously whom she can intellectually relate and flirt with. Thinking her internet friend is far away in cyberspace, she is quite surprised to learn that he is her very married high school English teacher.Experiencing marital problems, Hattie all too soon meets his every need, and he is increasingly, obsessively in love. But, the midwest has a set of high moral standing and Mr. teacher is torn, not enough to stop seeing her, but enough to be worried.Noting that both literally and figuratively, she is an excellent actor, and that she shines both on and off stage, too late, Mr. teacher cannot break the nasty web. In true fashion, when she fears a loss, she threatens to tell Mrs. teacher.When her bloated body is found in a pool of water at the edge of a barn where teens go to drink and grope, the small-town is torn apart. Stabbed and slashed, the murder is emotionally charged.This is not an unusual tale. Many authors have succeeded in writing a who done it. But, this author in particular is excellent at character development, and does not stoop to twisting and turning the reader.The focus is naturally on who did the crime, but the tale is framed so well that each and every character is fully developed, leaving the reader feeling unmanipulated. It is difficult to feel sorry for most of the people. I read the book in a few sittings, and now will look for more books by this excellent author.Four and 1/2 Stars!
  • (5/5)
    Really, really, really good!High school senior Henrietta "Hattie" Hoffman loves literature and the theatre and is desperate to leave her rural Minnesotan hometown behind to start an acting career in her dream place, New York City. At school, at home, in her community, Hattie doesn't feel she fits in and has been acting her entire life. She's very successful at playing the parts and being everything everybody else wants her to be, but she "would never become the role". Hattie is murdered on the first night she plays Lady Macbeth in her school production. Mirroring Shakespeare's tragedy, was Hattie's desire her undoing in the end?In addition to Hattie's first-person perspective, we hear from Del Goodman, the town's sheriff, who is also a good friend of Hattie's Dad and has known Hattie all her life, and from Peter Lund, the high school English teacher, who recently left Minneapolis at his wife's request to move in with his mother-in-law whose health was rapidly deteriorating.The 3 different first-person perspectives and the time switches between spring 2008 and summer/fall 2007 worked very well here and didn't create any confusion. I enjoyed following each of these tormented characters' perspectives and found them pretty balanced, in the way that each character had positive as well as negative traits, which helped to make them realistic and I could relate to some aspects of all their lives. The writing sucked me in right from the start and the way the plot unfolded was exceptional. The last 40% were unputdownable and I chose to ignore life around me until I got to the end. It was extremely easy to engage with these characters and to become emotionally involved in everything that was happening in this small town. A few unexpected twists, the fantastic character-driven plot, accomplished writing, and the questions it raised in my mind about relationships and life, in general, made this into a story that will stay with me for a while.A definite recommendation for adding this to 2017's TBR! (To be published January 3rd.)I received an ARC via Netgalley. All opinions are my own and completely unbiased.
  • (5/5)
    I LOVED this book! I was hooked from the moment I started reading it. Honestly, I never guessed the ending. I thought the real killer was revealed, but no there is a surprise twist to the ending. The story is told through three points of view: Hattie, Del and Peter. Hattie is the high school senior who always seems to be playing a part and wants desperately to move to New York. Then there is Del, the Sheriff who is investigating Hattie's murder. He also happens to be a close family friend. Peter is the new English teacher in town who doesn't care for the small town life and would rather move back to the city. There are many twists and turns. The point is to make you question who was really Hattie's killer. I'm not sure Hattie knew who she really was, since she was always someone else depending on who she was with. The characters weren't always likable(who wants to like a teacher who is cheating on his wife with one of his students?), but the seemed like real life people. Thanks to NetGalley, Atria Books and the author, Mindy Mejia, for a free electronic ARC of this novel. It was a wonderful read.
  • (4/5)
    This was a great psychological drama with twists and turns. The chapters are told from the point of view of Hattie, a high school senior, Del, the town sheriff and Peter, the high school english teacher. Hattie feels like she does not belong in the small, quiet farm town she has grown up in. Peter also feels displaced and depressed after leaving the big city to live in his wife's hometown so they can care for her ailing mother. When Hattie and Peter meet, it sets off consequences they could never have forseen. The story begins with the death of Hattie. The book then flashes back to the events that lead to her death.I kept thinking I knew who her killer was, but the book has you second guessing motives and the characters of the people in the story.
  • (3/5)
    A high school senior girl with dreams of becoming an actress in New York is brutally murdered in her small hometown, and the town's sheriff must put the pieces of her surprising inner self to figure out who her killer is. Just writing that sentence makes me twitch- how many cliches can be stuffed into one story? But despite guessing all of the surprises and twists a mile away, it's still a good read, and a relatively quick one. The narrative is not linear, and jumps between three different perspectives: Hattie, the murdered girl, obviously in the past; Peter, her high school English and drama teacher, mostly in the past; Del, the town sheriff, in the present, investigating the murder. Del proves to be an interesting character to follow around- he has his ghosts and we never quite learn the truth of them, which is refreshing- it's nice to see someone a bit haunted without getting every last gritty detail. Hattie is a very realistically written teenager, bored by her dumb jock boyfriend and often frustrated by her best friend's theatrics, eager to escape from a small town life and see the world. Peter is the east interesting POV character for me, though his inner conflict felt realistic and his situation just sucked. I genuinely felt bad for him, stuck by a series of circumstances outside his control in a life and place he hated.It's not a revolutionary piece of literature nor a mystery requiring a Holmesian intellect to decipher, but it is an entertaining, fast paced read that I think will be popular, especially with the Gone Girl and Girl On a Train set, and I'd recommend it to anyone whose brain needs a break from with reality with something engaging and quick.
  • (4/5)
    I enjoyed reading this book. This was one of those books that pulled me into the story pretty quickly. I knew that things would go horribly wrong but I just couldn't look away. I had to know exactly what happened and I wanted Hattie to tell me. The way that the story unfolded really added to the story. This is a book that I am very glad that I decided to pick up.One of the first things that struck me about this book was the fact that it is told in a nonlinear manner. I am not usually a fan of this method of story telling and I have to say that I was rather disappointed to see that this book was told in such a manner. It worked wonderfully in this story. It wasn't hard to keep track of where the story was in time and having the characters tell their story as it was taking place was really powerful. This book is told from three points of view. Del is the sheriff of a small town who is working to solve a murder. Hattie is a senior in high school who dreams of leaving the small town she has lived her life in to move to New York. Peter is the school's new English teacher who has just moved to town. All three of these characters play an important part of unraveling what really happened to Hattie. I liked the characters even though I am not sure why I do with the exception of Del. Del is a likeable guy who is in a bad place. He needs to solve Hattie's murder but is getting a lot of pressure from everyone in town not to mention that Hattie's father is one of his best friends. Hattie is kind of hard to like at first. She is manipulative and seems to think she is better than others in her town. I liked her anyway especially as the book progressed. Peter seemed lost throughout a lot of the book. He is never sure what he wants to do and feels guilty with a lot of his choices. I thought Peter felt really authentic and I liked him even when I wanted to throw things at him.I would recommend this book to others. It tells a story that kept me guessing up until the very end. This is the first book by Mindy Mejia that I have had a chance to read but I plan to look for her work in the future.I received an advance reader edition of this book from Atria Books via NetGalley.
  • (5/5)
    Can you be anyone you want to be depending on the situation? Can you adapt your reactions to what is happening at the moment?Hattie was always good at reacting the way someone wanted her to react and to being who someone wanted her to be. She was a very calculating and purposeful person to the point of being frightening.Hattie was two months away from her high school graduation and decided that she was going to leave her Midwestern small town and head to New York. She had made sketchy plans without telling anyone including her parents, and in the end, the plans didn't work out. When Hattie was found brutally murdered the next day, the town was shocked. Murders didn't happen in Pine Valley.The murder did cause a few folks to worry about their involvement with Hattie.EVERYTHING YOU WANT ME TO BE has three narrators....Hattie, Peter Lund, and Sheriff Goodman.Hattie told her story, Peter hoped his story would not be revealed, and Sheriff Goodman had known Hattie and her family for years. The three narrators worked out beautifully. One chapter smoothly flowed into the other.I really didn't like Hattie. She was dishonest and cunning.Peter was definitely dishonest because of his infidelity and didn't uphold his moral obligations as a teacher.Sheriff Goodman was a perfect, honest policeman.EVERYTHING YOU WANT ME TO BE was very descriptive, very intense, and had me guessing until the end. Ms. Mejia has a writing style that is distinctive and creative.I really enjoyed this book because the mystery and story line were unique and definitely kept me interested and turning the pages. If you enjoy twists and turns and characters that stay with you, you won't want to miss reading EVERYTHING YOU WANT ME TO BE.The entire book and especially the ending were brilliant!! 5/5This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation in return for an honest review.
  • (4/5)
    Everything You Want Me to Be by Mindy Mejia is a highly recommended murder mystery set in a small town.Hattie Hoffman is a high school senior in Pine Valley, Minnesota. She is a natural actress and has spent her whole life playing the part others wanted her to play - good daughter, brave sister, supportive friend, good student. When she is found stabbed to death in an abandoned barn after the opening night of her high school play, local Sheriff Del Goodman must try to figure out who would want Hattie dead. His investigation is complicated by the fact that he is a good friend of the family and it is set in a very small town.Mejia tells the story of the investigation and the events over the past school year that have led up to Hattie's murder through the point of view of three narrators: Sheriff Del Goodman, Hattie, and Peter Lund, a high school teacher in an unhappy marriage. Goodman's chapters are set after the murder as he tries to unravel the story of why Hattie was murdered to solve the case.I liked Del Goodman throughout the whole novel, but became tired of Hattie and Peter. Hattie is a skilled manipulator who managed to play everyone around her, while Peter just became too weak and whiny to elicit any sympathy or support from me. Even with that said, Mejia managed to keep me interested in the investigation and I was surprised by the final resolution. It is a compelling novel and you will find it engaging beginning to end.The quality of the writing sets what could be considered a standard mystery novel a step higher. This is a character driven novel and Mejia does an excellent job presenting her characters, flaws and all. The case is solved incrementally by Del as the other chapters go through the events of the past school year in the point of view of Hattie and Peter. There is a surprising twist at the end.Disclosure: My advanced reading copy was courtesy of Atria/Emily Bestler Books.
  • (4/5)
    I had pretty much given up on this kind of book, they all started blending together, deciding to stick to my police procedural and straight out mysteries. The plot of this one sounded like more of the same, high school girl from a small farming town found dead, but..... so many of my trusted friends were given this four or more stars so I decided to give it a shot. Started reading and the name of the town, Pine Valley jumped out at me, All my Children, soap opera of many years, though to myself, Please to not let this be soap operish. It. wasn't. The character of Hattie, thespian, so good at so many things, pretending to be whatever the person she was with wanted her to be, beloved of her parents, her dad in particular, how could someone have killed her? Narrated in turns by Hattie herself and two others, we learn of the events leading up to her murder.This was so much more than I expected, better than most I read last year. Hattie herself, such a brilliant characterization, full of teenage angst, but in many ways older than her years. I wanted to dislike her, but couldn't, I understood her, the things she wanted out of life, so much more than that found in her small town. She made for fascinating reading. The other characters, the family friend, police officer, the high school English teacher who wants to be elsewhere, compelling.So I surprised myself by also giving this a high rating, this author can write but more importantly she can put together a story.ARC from Netgalley.
  • (5/5)
    Hattie Hoffman is a high school senior in a small town where nothing ever happens. Everyone is shocked when they learn she's been stabbed to death on the opening night of her high school play. She was a good daughter, a good student, a good friend, a good actress. She was going to New York after graduation. Who could have done this? Del Goodman, local sheriff and family friend of the Hoffman's, vows to find out. When he starts investigating, he uncovers another side of Hattie virtually no one knew about.

    This is told from three points of view. Their stories are equally compelling. The timeline jumps around to give us Hattie's last months and the aftermath of her death. The writing was really good. I devoured the book, so it was fun to look back and realize the little clues I missed and see the cleverness that was sprinkled throughout the book.

    I won a copy through Goodreads First Reads.
  • (5/5)
    An intriguing and captivating book from the very first page. A quick read that keeps the reader guessing the whole way through. Would highly recommend!
  • (5/5)
    This book got me hooked from the start. it had me feeling a whole lot of emotions. It takes the reader thru before and after the death of a bright teen from pine valley . a must read !
  • (5/5)
    Easily one of my top 5 favorites that I’ve ever read, and I’m usually very picky and not easily impressed. If you like thrillers, this one is a must.
  • (4/5)
    This review is a customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme.

    I'm reviewing The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman Hardcover by Mindy Mejia. Here are my thoughts:

    ^^ The stage is set in a small mid-western town in America, when aspiring actress Hattie Hoffman is killed. What follows is a murder investigation and how it effects those left behind, and it grabbed me right up to the final scene. (And including, of course!)

    ^^ The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman is a murder mystery, and told from the point of view of Hattie (the girl who is murdered), Peter, her English teacher and Del, he Sheriff investigating Hattie's murder.

    ^^ All the cast above play a huge part in this book, and what drew me in was Hattie herself, and the role she played before her murder. She was the main reason I kept reading, not just because I wanted to find out who killed her, but because she was a great character with a strong voice and really shone through like the star she was.

    ^^ The Last act of Hattie Hoffman is an intriguing psychological thriller/whodunnit. There are, as expected, many twists and turns, leading to the grand finale when the final curtain comes down and the murderer is revealed.

    Overall: An enjoyable satisfying read, which will keep you guessing right through to the last act!
  • (4/5)
    This is a serious popcorn eating book. It moves very quickly and is easy to fly through. There is enough intrigue about how things will turn out to propel the reader. I was pretty surprised by the way the book unfolded and found it a good satisfying easy read. Great for a vacation read.
  • (3/5)
    Definitely written for teens, this book was a fun read. The author incorporated the twists that usually come with a whodunnit. It was easy to read but maybe a little too predictable.
    I have read where people have compared this book to Girl on the Train. While I can see some similarities, I think this book falls short of that.
    All in all it was a fun read and one I think teens will enjoy.
  • (4/5)
    Small towns and their secrets. It’s a plot device that I am a huge sucker for. I don’t know if it’s because both my parents grew up in small towns and have many stories to tell and spill the tea on, but it has always been the kind of story that I can get behind. From “Twin Peaks” to “Peyton Place”, the Small Town Secrets trope can be incredibly tantalizing. The description of “Everything You Want Me To Be” makes it pretty clear from the get go that this is the kind of book that you’re going to be reading, and I can’t tell ya enough how happy that makes me. Sudsy, dark, seedy, scandalous books are sometimes just what the doctor ordered, and it was a page turner that I greatly enjoyed.Okay, so yes, perhaps part of that enjoyment is taken from the fact that this book takes place in small town Minnesota. Any book or film or show that takes place in my home state is going to get an advantage from me, just because you don’t see it all that often. And Mejia being from here definitely gave it that feel of authenticity, as you can tell that she knows the culture and knows some of the nuances of the people and towns that are outside of the larger cities. As I read this book I couldn’t help but think about the Jacob Wetterling Case a little bit, a kidnapping that happened in central Minnesota that went unsolved for 27 years (go HERE for a very well done podcast about the crime, the investigation, and the aftermath). There were many people who thought that it could just never happen there, and whenever something along those lines was said about Pine Valley, my stomach clenched up. Mejia captured the naïveté of a ‘simpler’ life and society very well.I also thought that all of the perspective characters in this book were written very well. None of them were simple caricatures, when they very easily could have been. The first perspective is from Del Goodman, the sheriff of the county who is in charge of investigating the murder of Hattie Hoffman. He’s a friend of her family and has always known her as a sweet, intelligent girl who had big dreams and a big heart. That is really how most of the town knows her, and Del is determined to bring her killer to justice. He could very, VERY easily fall into the trope of craggy and stubborn sheriff who has seen a lot but never can accept that it ‘could happen here’. But instead he’s pretty level headed and is there to piece together the clues that we get as he finds them. But along with him we get two more perspectives. The first is if Peter, the new English teacher at the school who moved to small town Minnesota with his wife Mary to help his ailing mother in law. He’s a fish out of water from Minneapolis, and Mary has made it clear that she doesn’t see him as robust and ‘manly’ now that he’s on the farm. So when he starts up an online relationship with the mysterious “HollyG”, he finds validation and solace he feels he’s lost at home. Of course, as one could guess, HollyG is Hattie. Peter could VERY easily be portrayed as a predatory and insecure asshole who is merely trying to manipulate and recapture his youth/stroke his ego. But Mejia definitely makes him far more complex than that. He radiates ennui and frustration, and desperation, and while she never lets him off the hook, you can understand how he got on the hook in the first place. And then there’s Hattie. Hattie could either be portrayed as a small town girl with big dreams who gets caught up in her own hopes and wishes…. Or of a man-eater whose ambitions lead to manipulation and abject cruelty all in the name of getting what she wants. However, she really treads the line between both, and instead you get a girl who feels trapped inside a place that is far too small for her, and is desperate to escape by any means necessary. I was expecting to end up hating her, be it because she was too pure or because she was a complete psycho. But she never went that far. And I ended up pleased with that.Mejia brings these three narratives together to tell a very strong mystery about what happened to Hattie. And I will say, I was definitely taken for quite the ride. There were hints and clues that were dropped that I thought were far too obvious, only for them to be completely different from what I thought. Then there were things that I thought had to be red herrings, that actually ended up being completely legitimate, but framed in such a way that you HAD to think they were misleading! It was a real trip. All of this bundled together to make it so I didn’t know who did it, I wasn’t certain of the motive, and everything I knew was wrong. True, there were a couple of revelations and resolutions that left me feeling a little ‘oh, is that all?’ because of so many well done twists and turns, but ultimately I really enjoyed the path that we had to take to get to the solution to the crime. And boy was it hard for me to put this book down until I had that solution. For the first time in a long while I was at work wishing that the day could just be over already specifically because I wanted to go home and finish this book.“Everything You Want Me To Be” is the best thriller of the year so far, and it’s going to have to have some pretty stiff competition thrown it’s way to have it overthrown. Definitely, DEFINITELY check this one out if you like thrillers. You will not be disappointed.