Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Review: The Girl In the Park by Mariah Fredericks

Publisher:  Schwartz & Wade/Random House Children's Books
Publication Date:  April 24th, 2012

When Wendy Geller's body is found in Central Park after the night of a rager, newspaper headlines scream,"Death in the Park: Party Girl Found Strangled." But shy Rain, once Wendy's best friend, knows there was more to Wendy than just "party girl." As she struggles to separate the friend she knew from the tangle of gossip and headlines, Rain becomes determined to discover the truth about the murder. Written in a voice at once immediate, riveting, and utterly convincing, Mariah Frederick's mystery brilliantly exposes the cracks in this exclusive New York City world and the teenagers that move within it.
(Courtesy of Goodreads)

The Girl In the Park was one of those books that had me waffling on my feelings about it several times throughout the book.  There were things I loved and there were some problems.  The main character, Rain, is a sympathetic one.  She's a bit of an outcast at her private Manhattan prep school.  She was born with a cleft palate, and although she's long ago had it fixed, she is haunted by the abuse she endured from her peers when she was younger, and just doesn't talk much; she's kind of invisible. When her used-to-be closest friend, Wendy, is brutally murdered after a party one night, Rain starts to remember the things that made her love Wendy in first place, and feels a deep desire to put the pieces together and solve the mystery of her death.  She has intense, if very mixed and confusing feelings, as she rehashes the past few years, their friendship, and their eventual growing apart.  You see, Wendy didn't have the best reputation.  Wendy had always been shunned by her classmates for being Jersey new money trash, but on top of that, she had earned herself a reputation for being a slutty, boyfriend-stealing, party-girl.  When she turned up dead, people acted shocked and saddened, but whispered on the sidelines about how she kind of had it coming.  Rain knew Wendy like nobody else did, and knew there was more to Wendy; knew she was too smart to go into Central Park alone at night...

I enjoyed the parts of this book that had Rain exploring who she is, as a result of her friendship with Wendy.  I enjoyed the complicated mixed feelings she had about Wendy, who very much deserved her reputation, even if she didn't deserve to die.  I enjoyed the emotional journey that Rain underwent.  Rain is a complex character, and surprisingly, so was Wendy, and it was only through Rain's memories of her, that I ever really understood that.  At the beginning, I also thought the mystery was well done.  It certainly had me turning the pages. Where it went wrong for me was when I pinpointed the killer, far too soon.  I don't get mad when I predict the ending, unless it is WAY early in the story, and that is what happened here.  I did think the way Rain worked it all out was well done, but I don't like that I KNEW, without a doubt, the "who".  It was like the author tried too hard to put the focus on the guy she wanted us to think did it, and in doing so, made it glaringly obvious that it was the someone else...  My other complaint about this book is that there was ZERO levity.  Even in books containing serious subject matter, such as this one, there should always be something to break the tension here and there, and this book had nothing.  Because of this, it became a bit tedious.  That said, I still enjoyed this quick, intense read.  It wasn't perfect, but books rarely are.  If you like a fast-paced, intense mystery, give this book a go, just don't expect any huge surprises in the end.

My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½ 

Grade Level Recommendation:  This book has a bunch of teen drinking, sex, inappropriate relationships, a brutal murder, and some language.  I would say this is appropriate for grades 9 and up (ages 14+).

1 comment:

  1. Oh no! I've been so excited about this book and I really hope I'm not disappointed when I finally get the chance to read it. Thanks for your thorough and honest review. It always helps a lot to hear the honest opinions of others!



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