by Meg Rotter, Editor in Chief
Hattie Hoffman, the protagonist on Mindy Mejia’s novel “Everything You Want Me to Be,” is the sweetheart of her small Minnesota town, or at least that’s how everyone sees her. Growing up, Hattie played the role of the good daughter, the good student and the good employee, all the while planning her escape to New York City where she could finally pursue her acting career. However, during her senior year of high school, Hattie discovers something, or someone, worth sticking around for. When Hattie is discovered brutally murdered in an abandoned barn just weeks before her graduation day, Sheriff Del Goodman must uncover the mystery behind her untimely death before Hattie’s secrets tear the town apart.
The novel jumps between the perspective of three main characters: Hattie Hoffman, Sheriff Del Goodman and the town’s new English teacher, Peter. Using the multiple perspectives and shifting timeline allowed the author to fully develop the characters, while slowly uncovering new details about the town and Hattie’s murder. However, I always found myself most excited to read Hattie’s sections. As an aspiring actress, Hattie lived her life through a series of characters: daddy’s little girl, the faithful girlfriend and the overachieving student. It was interesting to follow her journey of self-discovery as she learned which characters were actually a piece of who she was and which were simply created to please others.
As a Midwestern gal ready to hightail it to the big city after graduation, I found Hattie to be very relatable. However, as many adolescents are, Hattie is impulsive and selfish with her decisions, ultimately leading to her demise. When reading the novel, I couldn’t help but notice the resemblance between Hattie and John Green’s character Alaska, from his novel “Looking for Alaska.” Both characters were bold, brave and beloved, and had a great love of classic literature. But sadly, as colorful and exciting as these characters were, their rash actions eventually led them to their sudden and tragic deaths.
With a mix of mystery, clever dialogue and a unique twist on the classic coming-of-age tale, “Everything You Want Me to Be” is an exciting read that emphasizes the importance of staying true to yourself, regardless of what others think. Be sure to check it out over winter break for the perfect fireside read.
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