Release date: January 3, 2017
Hawthorn wasn’t trying to insert herself into a missing person’s investigation. Or maybe she was. But that’s only because Lizzie Lovett’s disappearance is the one fascinating mystery their sleepy town has ever had. Bad things don’t happen to popular girls like Lizzie Lovett, and Hawthorn is convinced she’ll turn up at any moment—which means the time for speculation is now.
So Hawthorn comes up with her own theory for Lizzie’s disappearance. A theory way too absurd to take seriously…at first. The more Hawthorn talks, the more she believes. And what better way to collect evidence than to immerse herself in Lizzie’s life? Like getting a job at the diner where Lizzie worked and hanging out with Lizzie’s boyfriend. After all, it’s not as if he killed her—or did he?
I think my realization after reading this book was like Hawthorn’s – it is not really about Lizzie Lovett. It is about the stories you construct, the facade you build, the multiple versions of you that exist because of other’s perception of you. Hawthorne is sort of obsessed with the mystery of Lizzie – how a girl can be so perfect, so loved, and now that she has disappeared, how could have she? A thing to note her is that Hawthorn is fanciful – she often has a space in her head that she prefers to reality. It sort of reminded me of how my friends often complain of me in a similar manner. So, when Hawthorn spouts her impossible theory of Lizzie being a werewolf and starts to find her, suffice to say there aren’t many to entertain her.
Searching for the mystery of Lizzie, she starts working in her job, hanging out with her boyfriend, Enzo. Enzo is distraught over Lizzie’s disappearance and the hope of finding her draws him to Hawthorn. She is happy that he entertains her vivid notions, unlike the most of the people around her. But before you think romance, I should mention he is much older to her (25, and she 17) so while it was only friendship at first (which is still weird and should have been protested more by her family and friends) and later develops into more, there is still plenty to be skeeved out by. There is such a difference in the way they see the world, that I really feel someone should have stopped it before her heart gets eventually broken.
The writing is, in a word, offbeat. Sedoti has this way of displaying Hawthorn’s quirky-ness is all its myriad forms. Her thoughts, her very reactions to everyday occurrences, her way of cursing people with random trivial but annoying things – all these build a character that is quite lonesome but also eager to be one with the world. While the story is centered around the idea of not creating mythical figures out of people you admire, or not assuming things, I felt the story sort of lost track around the middle. It wasn’t until Lizzie’s disappearance was resolved that the plot got back on track and moved towards an ending that was poignant and worthy of the coming-of-age book that this was. In conclusion, an evocative book that has moments of whimsy.
Received a free galley from Sourcebooks Fire, via Netgalley.