Publication Date: 9th March 2017 from Quercus
Seventeen-year-old Hattie Hoffman is a talented actress, loved by everyone in her Minnesotan hometown. So when she’s found stabbed to death on the opening night of her school play, the tragedy rips through the fabric of the community.
Local sheriff Del Goodman, a good friend of Hattie’s dad, vows to find her killer, but the investigation yields more secrets than answers; it turns out Hattie played as many parts offstage as on. Told from three perspectives: Del’s, Hattie’s high school English teacher and Hattie herself, The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman tells the story of the real Hattie, and what happened that final year of school when she dreamed of leaving her small town behind . . .
NOTE: This book also has the title “Everything You Want Me to Be”
For me this novel was a simply incredible read. I’ll be honest and say I think the alternative (US?) title suits it better but a rose by any other name and all that…..
The story follows Hattie during the last year of her life, her death is a given and there is an extremely small suspect pool so don’t go into this thinking it’s a whodunnit with a huge twist in the tale, you’ll only be disappointed. This is a brilliantly written and intuitive character study of one young girl trying to find her place in the world and the tragedy that befalls her. Told from 3 separate points of view, Hattie, the sheriff and her high school teacher, the story unfolds with perfect pacing and perfectly placed little gems of information but the real beauty of it is in Hattie herself – a divisive and compelling character who slowly but surely comes into focus and comes into her own.
It is haunting and poignant, because you feel the ending from the beginning – whether you love or detest Hattie you can’t save her, it gives an edge and sense of awareness to proceedings that makes the whole thing utterly gripping. The twist in this novel is in the sense of the characters and whilst this is not a new concept – seeing what comes before the fall – Mindy Mejia does it with a deft touch and a real eye for eliciting emotional responses from the reader making Hattie unforgettable. All of them actually, the ones we hear from and the ones we see through their eyes – families, friends, a community in turmoil and what, or who, brought them to that point.
The author peels back the layers one at a time, drawing you in, keeping you hovering above the crash that is coming – whilst at the same time plunging you into the hidden emotional depths of the people concerned. It is at turns heartbreaking and cruelly ironic, a really intense piece of storytelling that digs deep.
I loved it because I love the ones that make me feel it every step of the way from the first sentence to the last and that is what this did.
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