We picked up this pretty ARC at ALA over the summer and have been wondering about this one ever since.  I wanted to find out why someone wanted to insert herself into the investigation of a missing person she never knew. Was this a mystery? A paranormal?  Find out more after the jump.

From the book flap:

 A teenage misfit named Hawthorn Creely inserts herself in the investigation of missing person Lizzie Lovett, who disappeared mysteriously while camping with her boyfriend. Hawthorn doesn’t mean to interfere, but she has a pretty crazy theory about what happened to Lizzie. In order to prove it, she decides to immerse herself in Lizzie’s life. That includes taking her job… and her boyfriend. It’s a huge risk — but it’s just what Hawthorn needs to find her own place in the world.

Overall:  There are so many things this book gets right.  The backdrop, Griffin Mills, Pennsylvania, an old and dying steel town is a unique backdrop for YA.  The feeling of community and strangeness that are the hippies living in the tents in Hawthorne’s back yard. Hawthorn’s mother’s past and how it translates to her current life.  Hawthorne’s outcast friendship with Emily. How normal and honestly sex is discussed.

Things take a turn from your typical contemporary YA almost immediately.  Hawthorn become inexplicably wound up in the disappearance of Lizzie Lovett, a girl she only vaguely knew in high school. Her extremely active imagination sweeps her away and her relationships suffer almost immediately. Hawthorn splits into two: ordinary high school student during the day and secret unofficial private investigator at night. However, instead of this being a typical missing person’s investigation, it quickly escalates into a  Persona-like obsession.  This obsession sets off a trail of bad decisions that we see Hawthorn that we see through her eyes only.

Ultimately, this book wasn’t about Hawthorn’s seemingly creepy behavior. Instead, it was an exploration of motivations.  Her angst and all her wrong choices are laid bare for the reader and we become judge and jury to Hawthorn, the person.

I will make a final note about:  This book is marketed as YA, but I really feel that it could have been an adult novel.  At the very least, YA written for adults.  Is that a genre? It really should be.

Judge a Book by its Cover:  Bright and sunny, this cover makes this book a natural choice for a Spring read!

Me Talk Pretty:  The sole narrator of the book is Hawthorn. She is an insecure girl.  She is looking for validation and is seemingly oblivious to the effects of her actions on other people.  We are inside her head, for better or worse.  She is a car crash and I’m the driver rubber-necking her every move.  What makes Hawthorn so refreshingly human are her innumerable flaws.  What makes Sedoti such a great writer is how she makes the reader care so deeply about what happens to Hawthorn despite her flaws.

Body Count:  A missing girl case needs to be solved. Will there be a body, will she return or will it become a cold case?

Just. Why.  I found myself scratching my head quite a bit during this book.  Many of Hawthorne’s actions were morally gray, at best.  Many more were beyond cringe-worthy. Despite those feelings, I still cared to find out what happened.

Bizarre Love Triangle:  There is one, which developed very subtly and without too much drama.  But this is YA.  There is eventually SOME drama.  Like so many things in this book, Hawthorn’s love life is refreshingly not the focus of her self-actualization, just one of the stepping stones along the way.

Open tab/Last call: This is Chelsea Sedoti’s first book! I’m definitely keeping the bar tab open to see what she brings next!

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett releases on January 3, 2017 on SourceBooks. 398 pages.

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