Tuesday 14 March 2017

Book Review: The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman by Mindy Mejia.

Product details:
Hardcover, 352 pages.

Release date: March 9th 2017.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Ages: Adult
Source: Received from publisher for review.

 Seventeen-year-old Hattie Hoffman is a talented actress, loved by everyone in her Minnesotan hometown. So when she's found stabbed to death on the opening night of her school play, the tragedy rips through the fabric of the community.

Local sheriff Del Goodman, a good friend of Hattie's dad, vows to find her killer, but the investigation yields more secrets than answers; it turns out Hattie played as many parts offstage as on. Told from three perspectives: Del's, Hattie's high school English teacher and Hattie herself, The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman tells the story of the real Hattie, and what happened that final year of school when she dreamed of leaving her small town behind . . .

Wonderfully evocative of its Midwestern setting and with a cast of unforgettable characters, this is a book about manipulation of relationships and identity, about the line between innocence and culpability, about the hope love offers and the tragedies that occur when it spins out of control.

Hattie Hoffman knows it’s good to have a plan.  An aspiring actress, Hattie’s plan is to get the hell out of Pine Valley just as soon as she graduates high school. Hattie knows she’s better than a Pine Valley future. She knows she’s better than the girls who spend their whole lives hero worshipping beefy football players just to they can eventually marry those dumb jocks and settle into a lifetime of kids and Saturday nights spent watching mind-numbing Reality TV.  Hattie is not like those girls.  Hattie has her eyes on the prize and that prize is a future that entails a name-in-lights acting career in New York City. Hattie is determined to make it. This is a girl with her eyes so firmly set on the future that she’s already living her present like it’s her past. Too bad then for Hattie that life doesn’t always go to plan. Too bad for Hattie that her life ended just as it was about to begin.

Mindy Mejia’s ‘The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman,’ is a truly absorbing page-turner of small town murder, secrets and lies. The US title of this book is ‘Everything You Want Me to Be,’ and it’s a title that really fits the character of Hattie Hoffman to a tee. Complex and compelling, Hattie is a truly fascinating character who will keep you guessing as to her true self and motivations long after she’s taken her final breath.  Like Laura Palmer to the town of Twin Peaks, Hattie Hoffman is Pine Valley’s golden girl with a winning smile and a dark secret to boot.  A true actress, Hattie is determined to keep it all together, even when it looks like everything might fall apart. And so Hattie plays a part. She plays many parts. Hattie is a different someone to everyone she meets: brilliant student, perfect daughter, doting girlfriend, best friend – all the world’s a stage for Hattie, until the curtain falls.

So, who killed Hattie Hoffman?  Who butchered her pretty face so badly that Hattie had to be identified by dental records? That’s a mystery for Del Goodman to solve. As the local sheriff of many years, Del isn’t easily shocked, but it’s safe to say that he’s rocked by Hattie’s brutal murder. After all, Pine Valley isn’t the type of place where murders happen too often, and certainly not to girls like Hattie Hoffman, who was found dead on the opening night of her school play where she wowed the audience as Lady Macbeth.  One thing Del knows for sure is that Hattie’s murder was no random act of violence. The slash-marks on her face tell Del that Hattie’s murder was not only up close, it was also very personal.

I have a penchant for small-town tales where everyone has a story to tell and a secret hide, and The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman, with its slowly unfolding mystery told from multiple-viewpoints –including Hattie’s in the months before her death- was pretty much a perfect read for me. A girl who turned heads and touched lives, it soon becomes clear that nobody: not teachers or parents, not boyfriends or friends, escaped Hattie’s many faces or her lies.  But which one of those lies got Hattie killed?  I guarantee you’ll have fun finding out!

 Title changes can be confusing! 
'The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman' is published in the US as 'Everything You Want Me to Be.' 

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