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WITH MALICE by Eileen Cook


This book will be available for purchase on on June 7, 2016

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Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group, via NetGalley for an honest review.

Genre: Fiction/Young Adult

Plot: For fans of We Were Liars and The Girl on the Train comes a chilling, addictive psychological thriller about a teenage girl who cannot remember the last six weeks of her life.

Eighteen-year-old Jill Charron’s senior trip to Italy was supposed to be the adventure of a lifetime. And then the accident happened. Waking up in a hospital room, her leg in a cast, stitches in her face, and a big blank canvas where the last 6 weeks should be, Jill comes to discover she was involved in a fatal accident in her travels abroad. She was jetted home by her affluent father in order to receive quality care. Care that includes a lawyer. And a press team. Because maybe the accident…wasn’t an accident. Wondering not just what happened but what she did, Jill tries to piece together the events of the past six weeks before she loses her thin hold on her once-perfect life.




Readers: If you are wondering why this plot description sounds a bit familiar, then your wondering is for good reason! Remember that very publicized and insane trial in Italy a few years back? You know the one. American girl goes off to Italy, starts a romance with an Italian boy, and then out of nowhere….WHAM…her roommate turns up dead. Well, consider this story as being a variation of the very famous Amanda Knox trial; only in this book, we follow the “Amanda Knox character” as she tries to figure out what happened.

When Jill Charron wakes up in a hospital room she doesn’t remember being in; or even coming to for that matter, she quickly becomes panicked. Not only does she learn that she had been involved in a terrible car accident, but she soon realizes that she cannot remember the past six weeks of her life. As Jill goes through physical therapy, she starts to search on the internet for clues as to what happened. But things only become worse when Jill realizes that someone had died in the car accident that she was involved in, and that Jill was the one driving. Now, all signs are pointing to the fact that this accident might have been purposeful and that Jill is the one to blame.

This was definitely a read that pulled me in and kept me reading until it was finished. As I was getting to know the main character, Jill, I was also going through the story with her as she starts to learn what happened on her trip to Italy.  I think we can all agree that waking up to find that you are missing a month and a half of your life, would be pretty scary. Especially when you start to realize that your parents are hiding facts about your accident from you. As Jill starts to learn what has happened through checking online websites, she also gets transferred to a rehabilitation center so that she can heal. Jill is soon introduced to her roommate, Anna, who is a fiery and spunky character. I think their relationship was very important to this story because Anna stood by Jill’s side throughout the investigation and tried to help her. As Anna ended up being the only person that didn’t completely assume that Jill was guilty, it showed a softer and more likeable side to Jill.

The dynamic between Jill and her best friend Simone, who also went to Italy, was one I think we have all seen before. Jill is the quieter friend, more concerned in academics than boys, and was very shy. Simone is the complete opposite; boy-crazy, exuberant, and more on the “popular” side. Their friendship was described as a “package deal”, meaning that if Simone was there then Jill would be in tow. I think the trip to Italy was a real change for both of these characters. Through the story we see that Jill was the outgoing one and the one really shining in Italy, while Simone was now the friend “tagging along”.  After finishing the story, I think the events that happened really make sense after you look back on their friendship. The ending, however, absolutely irked me. It felt rushed, and honestly a bit blasé. I can appreciate how the author lead up to the final unveiling of what really happened, but I think the final delivery in the courtroom was just lacking. It left me completely confused as to who this character actually is. As soon as I was starting to really get to know her and the situation, a shift in the character came to light and I was just left confused.

Overall, this was a pretty decent YA story. I think it resembled true events much too closely, so the spark of creativity didn’t really shine through with me on this one. I would have also liked the ending to have had a better delivery, but the overall story came together quite nicely. If you guys enjoyed We Were Liars or found some interest in the Amanda Knox trial, I think this could be an enjoyable read for you.

3 Stars