Review Blog

Sep 18 2020

They wish they were us by Jessica Goodman

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Razorbill/Penguin Random House, 2020. ISBN: 9780593114292.
(Ages: 14+) A YA murder mystery revolving around a prestigious high school with a not so secret society - the school's elite, called 'The Players'. The story follows Jill Newman in her final year of high school, three years after her best friend, Shaila, was murdered. Shaila's boyfriend, Graham, was convicted of the murder, and Jill and her friends have tried to put that horrid night behind them. This is their last year of high school, they run the school as The Players, everything should be perfect. But Graham's sister contacts Jill making a case for Graham's innocence and Jill starts questioning everything - her friends, her family, her boyfriend and her 'perfect' school life.
Packed with underage drinking and drug use (hence the suggested age of 14 years and up), They Wish They Were Us explores the pressures of fitting in, parental expectations, the complexities of friendships and how secrets can be kept by anyone. Similar in style to People Like Us by Dana Mele, They Wish They Were Us is a good introduction to the teen murder mystery genre. Many teen murder mysteries are well paced with plenty of action, however this book has a moderate pace with numerous flash backs. Readers may find it hard to keep track of the story, though I did read a proof edition and perhaps the published edition distinguished the past and present in a more obvious way.
Themes: Popularity, murder mystery, secrets, ambition, friendships.
Melanie Phillips

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