Tuesday, April 9, 2013

High School Pick: The Girl in the Park

The Girl in the Park
by Mariah Fredericks
Schwartz & Wade Books
224 pages

Riveting and taut, this YA thriller races on at a breakneck pace as clues are uncovered and suspects questioned. Rain hears about it the next day...her ex-best friend Wendy is missing. Wendy's mother calls Rain's house to ask if Rain knows anything about Wendy's whereabouts. Rain insists she doesn't know anything. She doesn't say anything about Wendy's latest obsession with Nico--a boy who was also at the party and on Wendy's hit list.

Rain really doesn't know anything about Wendy any more. They were friends a year ago but drifted apart. Wendy had become the girl that all the popular girls hate--the party girl who drinks too much and gets too friendly with the boys. Some of the popular clique whisper that maybe Wendy got what was coming to her, but Rain feels terrible. She feels guilty...maybe she should have been a better friend...maybe Wendy would still be alive.

After Wendy's body is discovered in Central Park, Rain thinks back to  the night of the party. What clues is she missing? She visits Wendy's Facebook page and goes through old pages and old messages. The police come to the school and are introduced and some students are questioned. The police show up at Rain's doorstep and question her, too.  Later, Rain begins to suspect Nico. As she searches for clues implicating Nico, a reporter tells Rain that there is a piece of evidence that the police aren't telling the public. A small letter "E" was found near Wendy's body. The "E's" are given out to four outstanding students each year. Whoever killed Wendy was a recipient of an E.

Rain goes to the library and begins looking at old yearbooks. Nico was never awarded an E, but his girlfriend Sasha was. Could Sasha have given Nico her pin? Rain tells the police she suspects Nico.

As Rain searches through clues from Wendy's Facebook page, a new suspect emerges--a suspect that no one, including Rain, ever suspected. Someone Rain trusted. Someone Rain admired. Rain decides to solve the case herself and is astonished at what she uncovers.

Rain has always felt broken and unworthy. Born with a cleft palate, Rain's speech has been affected. Kids make fun of the way she talks, so Rain rarely opens her mouth. Only Wendy gave her a chance; only Wendy was her friend and didn't make fun of her. In the end, quiet, timid, unassuming Rain finally finds her voice and speaks up for Wendy, and readers will be happy to see that the underdog triumphs.

Highly recommended grade 9-up. Partying, underage drinking, sex, extramarital affair, improper teacher/student relationship.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

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