This review contains quotes from the book.
*Special thanks to Atria for allowing us to read Mindy Mejia’s Everything You Want Me to Be.
Mindy Mejia has one brilliant mind. In her latest novel, Everything You Want Me to Be, Mejia does a great job with keeping her readers on the edge of their seats throughout the whole novel. From the first page, to the last, I was intrigued all around.
In the beginning, we start off meeting our troubled protagonist, Hattie Hoffman. She’s at the Minneapolis airport ready to leave everything she’s known behind her. In the moments leading up to her decision, she understands that she has to face the fact that no one will believe she’s actually ran off because everyone knows her to be this good person. But as all young people yearn for, Hattie wants more out of her life.
Hattie wants to leave her home and high school behind. Yet, she never does make it to the plane that will secure her getaway since security grows suspicious of her since she’s so young and only buying a one-way ticket. So she decides to jump back into her car and drive home before her vehicle breaks down in the middle of nowhere. She realizes she has things to say right then and there, and resorts to document herself with a camcorder. This is her way of telling the people of Pine Valley exactly what kind of person she is.
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.
— excerpt from Mindy Mejia’s Everything You Want Me to Be
In the next chapter, we learn of Hattie’s unfortunate fate: she’s brutally murdered. As a reader, we’re made to obsess over Hattie’s beginnings, including a past relationship that took a turn for the dangerous before it ended. So, of course, one of the suspects of her murder is her ex-boyfriend.
In an attempt to solve the mystery of her death, detectives are left to figure out whether this old flame’s obsession with Hattie led to this unfortunate event. But they also have to consider whether she was, in fact, simply in the wrong place at the wrong time; and if her murder was by the hands of a complete stranger. In all, Mejia does a wonderful job with drawing out her whodunit from start to finish.
What I liked most about Everything You Want Me to Be was the various perspectives I got to read from. We get to hear from Hattie’s viewpoint before she died, they way she talks about the kind of life she led and how she got involved with her online boyfriend. Then there’s Detective Del, who is leading the investigation of her murder. We also get to know more about Peter, Hattie’s online boyfriend and, astonishingly, her English teacher. We learn how they come to bond over their mutual love for literature, which prompts them to engage in an online relationship.
This was a stellar page-turner. The structure of the book alone was four-star worthy, and the story line moves with so much ease that you would never know what was going to happen next. It felt like I was virtually in on the mystery myself.