Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Girl I Used to Be by April Henry

Imagine if your father killed your mother. It'd shape you and affect you all your life. Now imagine his name is cleared fourteen years later. How would you feel?

Olivia is facing exactly that. When she was just three, she was found abandoned in a Wal-Mart three hours away from the very place her family was reported missing. Three weeks later, her mother's body was found wrapped in a tarp. She was stabbed nineteen times. Olivia's father's truck was left in an airport parking lot, leaving authorities to guess he'd killed his wife and left his daughter before running for good. 

But a woman walking her dog near the original crime scene stumbles across Olivia's dad's remains. Now everything Olivia ever thought she knew about her family has changed. Her father is no longer a killer but a victim himself. And Olivia is willing to do whatever it takes now to find the real killer. 

Once upon a time, readers, April Henry penned a fantabulous mystery series featuring a character named Claire Montrose: Circles of Confusion (1999), Square in the Face (2000), Heart-Shaped Box (2001), and Buried Diamonds (2003). I loved this series. Loved it! And it's one I've never forgotten (considering each featured vanity plate puzzlers, every vanity plate I see IRL reminds me of Claire). She also released a stand alone in the Claire Montrose gap year - Learning to Fly - which was equally fantastic. 

Anywho, after coauthoring two series with Lis Weihl (which I somehow missed), Henry eased into the teen mystery scene with Shock Point in 2006 and has continued in that vein ever since. Even though I've known about Henry's teen titles for quite some time, The Girl I Used to Be is the first of them that I've read (though Learning to Fly does feature a teen protagonist it was still marketed as adult). And I'm so happy to have gotten back into her work!

I recall very little of the Claire Montrose books except how much I enjoyed them and I can definitely say that The Girl I Used to Be hit the mark as far as enjoyment is concerned! It's also a great mystery with a heroine I loved spending the afternoon with. (This was a one-sitting read!)

Olivia has dug herself out of a sort of bad background. I mean, she grew up under the shadow of her mother's death and with the stain of her father's supposed crime. She spent years in the system too, eventually earning her GED and gaining her independence as an emancipated minor. Which is why at seventeen she's able to move back to her parents' hometown and poke around in an attempt to find the real killer. 

The book could have been longer and I most certainly wouldn't have complained, but honestly I think it was just about the perfect length. Olivia's story plays out quickly and with just the right amount of edge-of-your-seat tension and suspense. It was fun, pure enjoyment in fact!

Rating: 4/5

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