Yale-bound student Jill Charron wakes up in a hospital bed to a nightmare. Her best friend, Simone McIvory, is dead. And Jill is accused of murder.
While the white teen recovers from massive head injuries, she discovers Simone was killed in a car crash while they were in Italy during an Adventures Abroad program, her dream trip. Everyone says Jill was the driver, but she can’t remember the accident or being in Italy at all, due to her retrograde amnesia and struggles with aphasia. While in rehab, Jill works on her memory with Dr. Weeks and meets roommate Anna Lopez, both of whom provide respite during the media firestorm. Rumors heat up implying that Jill and Simone fought over Nico, their Italian tour guide. The hoopla surrounding the accident is played well, reminiscent of the real-life Amanda Knox trial. Jill’s past-tense narration is complemented by Justice for Simone blog posts, police transcripts, text messages, email, Facebook comments, and Crime Watch episodes, through which details of their frenemy-ship and what might’ve happened emerge. It’s a virtual he said/she said at its loudest and, oftentimes, most cruel. What falls short are stereotypical depictions of characters, like Evan (pushy lawyer), Nico (Casanova), or Jill’s father (midlife abandoner). No one character really shines, not even Jill. What does provide interest is the slippery notion of truth versus memory versus perception.
Gossip and hubbub abound in this tame mystery. (Mystery. 14-18)