Top positive review
Give us a resolution, not just clues left unresolved
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on January 2, 2021
SPOILER ALERT: (Note that I have edited my review and increased my initial rating. See below for the additional insights).
This is the second mystery novel I've read in the last few days in which the mystery was not resolved. Are writers getting lazy? Do they just get tired of writing and decide, "Well, that's it, I quit. Let the readers figure it out." Jewel leaves clues, but many questions are unanswered, with nothing to indicate how the victim ended up with an overdose of sleep medication in her system. It appears that the primary suspect had accomplices, but we're left with no clear idea of how it all went down. Granted, it's not a murder mystery. The victim survives and wants the case dropped, so it's dropped. The police investigators were blatantly incompetent, seemingly more determined not to offend anyone and disrupt their nice summer day any more than they have to.
The book is really more of a study in family and communal neighborhood dynamics than it is a mystery novel or suspense thriller. It focuses on the relationships of adolescent children, especially the girls, with the one boy in the group apparently clueless. 'Boys are so dumb and girls are so mean' seems to be the moral of the story. So if you approach it from that perspective, you may accept it, but there's still no reason for leaving so much hanging at the end. Just because the young victim doesn't want anyone to know what happened doesn't mean the reader shouldn't know. Meanwhile, I'm getting tired of anticlimactic endings.
* Note that I wrote the above review after finishing this book two or three days ago, then read the book again and picked up on some clues I missed. The ending is still not completely resolved, but seems to be a little more obvious that it was in my initial reading. The book benefits from an additional perusal, (Beware of spoilers here). There is an obvious main culprit, but she has some obvious assistance, and it's pretty clear who they were. (I think there were two accomplices, although there may have been only one). The writer leaves it to the reader to figure it out, although no one in the story seems to know for certain, except possibly for the victim, and she ain't telling.
The most interesting and disturbing character in the book is 13 year old Tyler, a girl who is neglected by a narcissistic mother. and who becomes jealous of a new girl who seems to be taking the males in her life away from her. The end of the book leads to speculation about what this girl will do next, as she's obviously a very troubled child, yet very vengeful and manipulative, one who may illicit your pity but watch out! You might want to take her in your arms and hug her, but be careful, she bites. All the characters are fascinating and well developed, but she's the one for whom I felt a combination of love and fear, a child crying out for love and affection but who is potentially dangerous, especially as she heads into adolescence like an out of control freight train. Danger ahead, I predict. Would love to read a sequel to this book.
Meanwhile, I've changed my rating from 2 stars to five stars. Sorry I missed some things on my initial reading of the book, and even though I still have mixed feelings about the ending, I think that in many situations, the pieces of the puzzle never fall completely into place the way we expect. However, I think there are enough clues to put most of it together. It's a great book for a group discussion, as everyone will likely have a different opinion.