The Girl in the Park by Mariah Fredericks
Release Date – April 24, 2012
Publisher Website – Random House Children’s Books
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 224 pages
My Rating- 3/5
**obtained from the publisher and Netgalley for an honest review**
Here is the Goodreads synopsis
When Wendy Geller's body is found in Central Park after the night of a rager, newspaper headlines scream,"Death in the Park: Party Girl Found Strangled." But shy Rain, once Wendy's best friend, knows there was more to Wendy than just "party girl." As she struggles to separate the friend she knew from the tangle of gossip and headlines, Rain becomes determined to discover the truth about the murder. Written in a voice at once immediate, riveting, and utterly convincing, Mariah Frederick's mystery brilliantly exposes the cracks in this exclusive New York City world and the teenagers that move within it.The Girl in the Park grabbed my interest initially due to the real life case it’s loosely based on. I hoped for an intriguing mystery set in an elite New York City private school. I felt the message of victims and how their character can come under attack to be the most important part of the book however.
The writing in the novel is fairly straight forward. I felt the middle and second half to be stronger than the first. It starts out a little slower, but quickly immerses you into the mystery of what happened the night Wendy was murdered.
The characters are all fairly realistic to a high school setting. You’ve got an array of young teenagers that make up various groups found in most high schools. I felt it harder to relate to relate to, or like any of the characters except for Rain though.
Rain is a shy, withdrawn character who I sympathized with. She has a cleft pallet and as a result is painfully shy. She had some speech issues that she corrected and it is made her self conscious about talking to others, especially other teenagers in her school. She is very determined to find out what really happened to Wendy, and she does start to stand up for herself and change throughout the story. Her desire to speak for Wendy is admirable and she really does care for her friend.
Being familiar with the case the novel is loosely based on may have helped me enjoy in the novel more. I was not able to guess the killer as a result. I was expecting it to be a certain character based on the real life case. Once the real killer is revealed the clues are quite obvious and I believe that someone not familiar with the case would be able to determine who it was early on.
The face that Wendy was torn apart for her “party girl” ways echoes what happens all too often in real life, and what happens in the real case. A woman may be made to feel she has done something to the provoke the attack. “What was she doing in a park that late at night and with a boy?”, “Why was she dressed in an outfit that revealing?” etc. These kinds of statements tend to blame the victim for behaviour that they really didn’t have anything to do with. It is wonderful to see this presented in a YA novel and I hope it gets teens and adults talking.
The confrontation that happens when the killer is revealed may end up being seen as anti-climatic to some. I am not 100 percent sure on how I feel about that part of the novel. Part of me felt it lacked a bit of “drama” but part of me thought it had a touch of realism to it.
All in all, The Girl in the Park is a well thought out murder mystery that puts it’s own spin on an age old formula and has a touch of realism that I hope will cause people to think.