The Girl in the Park is written by Mariah Fredericks. It was published in 2012 by Schwartz & Wade. Fredericks’ website/blog can be found here.
Genre: Realistic, Tough Read, Mystery, Young Adult
“When Wendy Geller’s body is found in New York’s Central Park the morning after a rager, newspaper headlines scream:
Who Was Wendy Geller?
Life of a Party Girl Ends in Violence
But Rain, once Wendy’s best friend, knows Wendy wasn’t just another wild girl from an elite prep school. Wendy was the girl with the great smile and the huge heart. The girl who ate unbaked cookie dough—“The dough rocks raw, am I right?”—and faked a fainting spell in H&M as a prank. Who told quiet Rain not to be afraid to share her thoughts with the world.
As Rain struggles to separate the girl she knew from the tangle of headlines and vicious gossip, she becomes determined to discover who killed her friend. But if Rain—always a listener, a bystander—really wants to help Wendy, she knows she’ll have to speak up.”
Cleft palate. Big deal. Okay, maybe you sound a little funny. Some. Times. But you need to forget about that and speak up, girl!
Wendy is dropping frozen cookie dough on a baking sheet. Turning, she says, “Because can I say something? Most people? Myself included? Talk way too much. You. On the other hand. Listen. And you think. So when you do speak? You’re brilliant. So, give up the silence, okay?”
“Was it a pin or—”
“No details. What I want to know is, did it belong to Wendy?”
No, I think. No, no, no. Wendy was not the kind of girl to get an E. Ever.
It belongs to Wendy’s killer.
Stella presses. “Come on, Rain. If it’s not Wendy’s, whose is it? Who is E, Rain?”
Not who, I think, what. But I’m not telling Stella that.
Wendy’s killer is not some random crazy person. He’s someone I’ve passed in the halls. Someone I’ve spoken to.
I know Wendy’s killer.
Warnings: Sexual situations, swearing.
Recommended Age Range: 16+
What I Liked:
I liked the emphasis on speaking up and doing the right thing, no matter what other people think or what it might cost you. Rain was a very good protagonist and the way she conquers her fear is heartwarming.
This was a fairly good mystery, even though it was extremely obvious who the killer is. The progression of ideas and thoughts related to the mystery was well-done, though.
This book was fairly well-written and decent. Nothing really stood out to me, but it had a good mystery and I liked Rain’s development over the course of the book.
What I Didn’t Like:
I hate it when people’s bad behavior is excused for some reason or another. In this case, Wendy’s bad behavior was excused by Rain and others, multiple times (“She just wants attention” or whatever). Sorry, but it doesn’t matter how much she inspired you, instigating affairs with people’s boyfriends is not cool or good, and it made me so mad when Rain said, “She’s a good person,” because, uh, no. Wendy’s not a good person. A confused, deceived person, maybe. But not a good one. You know who else isn’t a good person? Stella. Nico. The boyfriends who slept with Wendy. The killer. And pretty much everybody else.
The Girl in the Park has some good character development, and I especially liked the end with Rain and Stella. The mystery is fun, although obvious, and Rain’s struggle with the killer’s identity reflects her development nicely. It’s a little banal, and there’s too much excuse of people’s bad behavior, but it’s a fairly decent book.
Coming Up Next: The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde