So hear me out. I actually finished American Dirt and this book last week. I had that review mostly done, then I realized there was a lot I still needed to do for it (audio files, getting picture and synopsis, making the rating). And I kinda just gave up. I decided to give you this review, and realized I hadn’t finished writing likes and audio files.
I’m too lazy, Voidfriends. So you only got one last week.
Customary warning: This is a reminder that these are my personal opinions. My thoughts and feelings are not your thoughts and feelings. I may not always be the target audience for a book; sometimes I am. If I do not like a book, that doesn’t mean you’ll dislike it. If I love a book or simply like a book, you may hate it. Take everything I say with this knowledge. If it sounds interesting to you despite what I’ve said, then go ahead and read it. You’ll only know you like something if you read it yourself.
That being said… Spoilers ahead.
A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson
Synopsis From The Book
Everyone in Fairview knows the story.
Pretty and popular high school senior Andie Bell was murdered by her boyfriend, Sal Singh, who then killed himself. It was all anyone could talk about. And five years later, Pip sees how the tragedy still haunts her town.
But she can’t shake the feeling that there was more to what happened that day. She knew Sal when she was a child, and he was always so kind to her. How could he possibly have been a killer?
Now a senior herself, Pip decides to reexamine the closed case for her final project, at first just to cast doubt on the original investigation. But soon she discovers a trail of dark secrets that might actually prove Sal innocent . . . and the line between past and present begins to blur. Someone in Fairview doesn’t want Pip digging around for answers, and now her own life might be in danger.
This is the story of an investigation turned obsession, full of twists and turns and with an ending you’ll never expect.
Mystery | YA – PW |Talk of Rape and Sexual Assault, Murder, Drug Abuse, Bullying | Identity, Drive for the truth, Response to fear
Initial Thoughts Before Reading:
We begin where we always begin, me wanting but not wanting to read the book. It is a great premise and I need to have it read for book club tonight, but I am so tired. Just so tired of being stressed and tired in general. But Imma read because I want to go to book club and have it read. I like people. Lets just see if book club gets canceled or not.
Initial Thoughts After Reading:
My heart aches for Sal. My goodness, the poor boy. Was murdered, was framed, his legacy destroyed. His family will never get reparations for the damages, and I wish they could. Its horrifying how a community can turn on outsiders from false information. I hate it.
But I liked this book. The book pulled me in deep and didn’t let me go, forcing me to keep reading more and more as I went through the parts.
The book opens with the information on Pippa and her capstone project. She is looking into the disappearance of a girl and the media’s portrayal of it. In reality she wants to investigate the disappearance and the death of Sal, the girl’s boyfriend. The whole town believes that Sal killed the girl, Andie. Pippa isn’t so sure. She begins interviewing people under the guise of the project, meeting Sal’s younger brother, Ravi, and finding out many secrets. Stories don’t add up, and while she can discount memories being scattered, Pippa learns of a mysterious secret not-boyfriend Andie had, and that her father also could be a person of interest.
One night while camping, Pippa and her friends are watched and spooked. A letter is left for Pippa to tell her to stop digging.
Pippa is freaked but dedicated to the cuase. School has begun again and Pippa is uncovering all sorts of truths. She finds out that Sal’s friends lied to her. She finds out that Andie was selling drugs. She discovers that Andie was followed by Sal, and he found it out. She discovers that Andie was selling date rape drugs. She is threatened again and keeps going. Pippa discovers through Max, one of Sal’s friends, that Sal’s friends lied to the cops. They lied that that Sal had left early. Pippa has gotten solid evidence that Sal was not the murderer, but that he was killed too, and she has to figure out by who.
Pippa continues to get threatened. Her dog is taken from her, and she is forced to dispose of her research. Then her dog is returned, dead. Ravi helps her through it and they push on more. Pippa discovers the source of the notes, her best friend’s father, Elliot. She traces the man back to a house, where he is keeping a girl trapped. This girl is not Andie, but he convinced himself it is. He killed Sal, luring Sal into the forest and suffocating him after drugging him. The case is nearly closed when Pippa realizes there are still holes. She finds out that Max raped Becca, Andie’s little sister. Becca tried to be comforted by Andie, and did not receive it. Earlier that night Elliot and Andie had a fight, and Andie hit her head. Bad. When Becca and Andie fought, Becca pushed Andie and she died. She then disposed of Andie’s body in a septic tank. Becca tries to kill Pippa, but Pippa is saved by Ravi and her parents.
The truth comes forward with complete honesty, and Sal’s name is cleared. Four people are being put into prison, and Pippa is a national sensation.
What I Liked:
Pippa; She is obsessed and that obsession led her forward. She was a smart kid and I liked that. I really hope that she doesn’t jump head first into all sorts of mysteries however.
Ravi; What a sweet heart. For the longest time, I did think that there was a chance he was a murderer.
Sal; Oh my goodness. I loved him and was destroyed the more I knew what happened. Listen, his friends? ARE HORRIBLE. They KNEW he had an alibi. They KNEW they were lying. They are one of the reasons his death was so well accepted.
The Mystery; For the longest time. I thought Andie faked her death and killed Sal, in a sort of Gone Girl sort of plot. It turned out to be more complicated and a bit more understandable. However the way it was written was what made the difference.
The level of danger; I really loved how the book ramped up in pacing, in structure, in drawing me in. As each part came and went, I was further drawn in. The use of cliffhangers between parts, aided to this.
How it all fanned out; The fact that it was who was it was to kill Andie, did not shock me by the time we got there. What got me was how Sal died. At the end of the book, however, how it turned out is not too surprising. And considering who actually initially hurt Andie (and killed Sal), and how he blackmailed his own daughter. ZERO sympathy.
Use of POV and text; I actually liked the 1st person diary entries and the 3rd person scenes. It helped show many of her own personal thoughts in a different way, while trying to show that she isn’t the most reliable and has a personal vendetta.
What I Would Have Liked or Changed:
Oh man I have no idea. Oh! I have one.
I would have liked to see how race did play a bit more into the story. At the beginning it is clear that Sal was immediately demonized because he wasn’t white. Pippa made a comment about it. It doesn’t go much more into this later on outside of how Ravi wouldn’t be trusted, but that can also be read as Ravi being the suspect’s brother. It would have been interesting to see.
Most of us had favorable opinions. 4/5 was the general consensus, but most everyone was peeved with a lot of what Pippa did. Because it would not be proof in court. She also jumped to a lot of conclusions. We laughed about this a lot.
The general question was, why was everyone so stupid? If Elliot hadn’t killed Sal, he wouldn’t have gotten convicted of anything. Normal missing person cases can go on for weeks and within five days this case was closed. Also how did no one know Andie’s reputation as a bully? It was super clear. Plus, as one girl who is in criminal law said, any good criminal investigator would have noticed the inconsistencies that Pippa found. Additionally we asked why the forensics team and the doctors, didn’t notice that Sal’s neck had bruises? Because Elliot kept the bag against Sal’s neck to suffocate him.
The book kept our interest, but upon criticism, we did break it down a lot. However most opinions didn’t really change rating wise.
“Collectively, we turned a beautiful life into a myth of a monster. We turned a family home into a ghost house. And from now on we must do better.” – pg 386