PRIVATE NUMBER: Wouldn’t you look better without a cheater on your arm?
AMANDA: Who is this?
The daughter of small town social climbers, Amanda Kelly is deeply invested in her boyfriend, real estate heir Carter Shaw. He’s kind, ambitious, the town golden boy—but he’s far from perfect. Because behind Amanda’s back, Carter is also dating Rosalie.
PRIVATE NUMBER: I’m watching you, Sweetheart.
ROSALIE: Who IS this?
Rosalie Bell is fighting to remain true to herself and her girlfriend—while concealing her identity from her Christian fundamentalist parents. After years spent in and out of conversion “therapy,” her own safety is her top priority. But maintaining a fake, straight relationship is killing her from the inside.
When an anonymous texter ropes Amanda and Rosalie into a bid to take Carter down, the girls become collateral damage—and unlikely allies in a fight to unmask their stalker before Private uproots their lives.
PRIVATE NUMBER: You shouldn’t have ignored me. Now look what you made me do…
Warnings: homophobia, conversion therapy (flashbacks), parental abuse, physical violence, gun violence, deception and gaslighting
A thriller about two girls tied to the same guy, and being harassed because of him, All Eyes of Us has a plot that leaves you guessing to the identity of their anonymous stalker. Amanda and Rosalie are both Carter’s girlfriends, and though being aware of the other, they are quiet about it – Amanda because she thinks Rosalie is just a phase he will grow tired of, and because she doesn’t want to lose the privilege of being the future Mrs Shaw; Rosalie because Carter is the one way she can make her devout Christian parents believe that she has been ‘healed from her homosexuality’ through the ‘counseling’ sessions by the pastor. The girls are at odds at the start, because Amanda doesn’t know about Rosalie’s real reason to date Carter, and Rosalie fears Amanda’s anger over her dating Carter.
The anonymous texts start out subtle, but soon progress to threats. As they do so, the suspect pool in the plot increases, but of course the common factor is yet to be found. Every time I thought this person could be it, there isn’t enough motive as the threats go up in stakes. As for the girls, they both don’t have adults they could turn to, to help them out of their situation. Amanda’s mother downplays her fears and basically tells her to suck it up; Rosalie is being threatened to be outed to her parents about the existence of her girlfriend. I wouldn’t say this is a typical mystery per se, but it is more of the fears being weaponized against these girls. Amanda’s entire identity and image in her town is tied to being Carter’s girlfriend, and fear of her mother’s ire keeps her in place; she has to learn to break away from those expectations. Now, Rosalie’s fear is quite visceral because she has been subjected to conversion therapy twice and she is still traumatized by it; her arc is also to finally break away from the expectations of her family.
The voice of the two protagonists and the writing was well done, though Amanda using her parents’ first names was confusing at times. Additionally, I felt most of the secondary characters were like props or at the most, red herrings, and underutilized.
Overall: it is a good thriller plot, and has well fleshed-out protagonists.
Is it diverse? One of the protagonists is a lesbian, with a Latina love interest; a couple of queer minor characters
Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Margaret K. McElderry Books, via Netgalley.
Released on June 4, 2019