Review: Cartwheel by Jennifer Dubois

September 30, 2013 Mystery/Suspense, Random House, Review 3

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Random House (September 24, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 0812995864
  • Source: Publisher

Lily Hayes opts to spend a semester abroad in Buenos Aires and is instantly enamored by the culture around her. She rooms with another young woman from the United States, Katy, but Lily is more interested in becoming immersed in the culture and people around her than her dull roommate. One of the first people Lily meets is the elusive neighbor next door, Sebastien, and the two begin an affair.

Yet five weeks later when Katy is found brutally murdered, Lily’s idyllic life in Buenos Aires becomes a living nightmare. All evidence points toward Lily as the guilty party.  Incriminating her is the cartwheel she performed after her initial interrogation.  If she were guilty, why would she perform such an act?

During the investigation, the prosecutor tears apart Lily’s life in Buenos Aires, desperate to find a motive for the crime. The media has convicted her before a trial, statements and emails from Lily piling on the evidence piling up against her.  Watching all this transpire are Lily’s divorced parents and her younger sister, Anna. They can’t help but notice that something is off about Lily.  They can’t possibly  believe she is guilty of the crime but what else can be behind her strange, carefree behavior.

Dubois paints a cast of character that is difficult to sympathize with.  Lily appears selfish, only considerate of her own feelings and desires.  What Dubois does is unique; she allows the characters to provide readers with information about the other pieces of the cast, both through flashbacks and dialogue. With all this, it is nearly impossible for the reader to determine what transpired that fateful evening when Katy was murdered.

While I wasn’t particularly taken in by the premise of the novel, what won me over was how reading the novel made me feel, personally.  It is impossible to read a novel like this without reflecting upon one’s own ideals and morals. I was shocked at how frequently my feelings toward Lily would change, alternating between guilt and innocence. I feel that this has real-life impact, for how often are we swayed in our own thinking thanks to the media.

The similarities to the Amanda Knox case are quite evident.  While the opening of this novel points out there are no correlations, I found it nearly impossible to not make comparisons between the two.

While I wouldn’t recommend this novel to someone hoping to experience a heart-pounding thriller,  it would be best suited for someone interested in a character-driven novel that forces one to look inward, examining one’s own life as they read.  Dubois is a truly talented writer. The fact that her writing alone could evoke such introspection is clear evidence of this talent.

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for providing me the opportunity to participate in this tour. Please be certain to check out the other stops along the way.


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