Everything You Want Me To Be is Mindy Mejia's second novel.
Hattie Hoffman is in her last year of high school in a small town. She dreams of moving to New York and becoming the person she wants to be. Only Hattie knows who that is. You see, she changes herself to suit who she is with - family, friends, neighbours, boyfriend - and where she is - alone, school, home or on the stage. Hattie is the consummate actress. And it's going to get her killed......
"Fit the character to the play. You knew you were playing it right when your audience was happy." "I was a million different things depending on who I talked to or how I felt."
The reader is told of Hattie's death in the first chapters. From there the timeline flips from past to present, told in three voices - Hattie's, Del - the local Sheriff tasked with finding her killer, and Peter, her high school English teacher.
Hattie is a complicated character. I did like her drive and dreams. But on the other hand, how she tries to achieve them is at the expense of others and her manipulations left a sour taste in my mouth. But do we ever know who the real Hattie is? Peter - well, I have no words for him. He is shallow, weak and self deceptive. There are other characters that we only come to know through the interactions with the three main characters. Peter's wife Mary, without having a voice of her own, was the one character I was quite drawn to. Del, the Sheriff, is the other character who I sided with.
Mejia's plot explores many different relationships and themes. Innocence, guilt, lust, love, deception and more. And at the heart of it all - who killed Hattie? I liked the slow pacing of the investigation as Del puzzles out the whodunit without the benefit of the reader's inside knowledge. And the final reveal wasn't who I expected.
Everything You Want Me To Be was a different read, but quite good. I would pick up another book by Mejia. Read an excerpt of Everything You Want Me To Be. You can connect with Mindy Mejia on her website and follow her on Twitter.