Review: The Girl in the Park

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Girl in the ParkThe Girl in the Park by Mariah Fredericks
Published by Schwartz & Wade on April 24, 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery
Pages: 224
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

When Wendy Geller's body is found in Central Park after the night of a rager, newspaper headlines scream,"Death in the Park: Party Girl Found Strangled." But shy Rain, once Wendy's best friend, knows there was more to Wendy than just "party girl." As she struggles to separate the friend she knew from the tangle of gossip and headlines, Rain becomes determined to discover the truth about the murder. Written in a voice at once immediate, riveting, and utterly convincing, Mariah Frederick's mystery brilliantly exposes the cracks in this exclusive New York City world and the teenagers that move within it.

First Sentence: “In my dream, everyone talks except me.”

Main character Rain tries to stay quiet and avoid notice. She has a cleft palate that still affects her speech patterns, despite a lot of speech therapy. This definitely makes her stand out among the YA books I’ve read, reminding me most of Wonder by R. J. Palacio, which is amazing by the way. Both main characters are freaks because of deformities they were born with, but both are also really great people. From reading Auggie’s viewpoint in Wonder and Rain’s in The Girl in the Park, it’s so obvious how smart they are and how much they have to offer.

Rain’s a really nice person. She’s the kind of girl who will help someone out just because they’re in pain. Even if that person is the most popular girl in school and has never been kind to her, Rain will listen to her and comfort her when she’s down, because that’s what she does. This is how she befriends Wendy, a transfer student. Watching Wendy, Rain sees someone who wants so desperately to be popular that she stands no chance of achieving her goal. Rain offers her advice and tries to be friends, even though they are completely different.

One thing that did bother me was something that just was not believable, namely that the school sent out a message saying that students who did not feel up to coming the day after Wendy’s death would not be marked absent. No real school would do this. Why? Because EVERY SINGLE STUDENT would suddenly feel the strange need to mourn for Wendy, whether they knew her or not, liked her or not. What schools do, and I have experienced this, is still have the exact same attendance policy, but make the guidance counselors extra available for people to talk to if they’re sad. Seriously, if a school is going to make attendance optional that day, they might as well just close altogether, because that’s how many kids would show up. Does this matter at all with regards to the plot? No.

Death is really awkward, especially with the advent of all of this web interconnectivity. The Girl in the Park does a pretty good job of highlighting this fact, although I don’t imagine that’s something all readers are going to take away from it. Wendy wasn’t even very well-liked, but, in death, suddenly she’s missed and fascinating and everyone’s sad, even though many of them probably wished she would leave the school, if not the living world. Kids go to right on her facebook wall about their condolences and how awesome she was, though they may never have thought of it and though Wendy cannot actually read these messages. Whenever someone I know dies, which thankfully is not often, this same sort of furor erupts. There’s this desire to be closest to the tragedy, to garner attention because of it, which I’m seriously creeped out by and do not approve of. Was grief always so public?

The Girl in the Park reminds me a lot of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak, although the issues they are dealing with are not exactly the same. They do, however, share themes of popularity and being afraid to speak up. Rain’s distance from others, although certainly not as extreme, is also a commonality between the two. I recommend this book to readers who enjoy the depressingly honest YA books by authors like Anderson and Bick.

Favorite Quote:

” ‘Just for once, I want someone to want me more than anybody else. To put me first.’ “

4 responses to “Review: The Girl in the Park”

  1. fakesteph says:

    This one looks good. I’m glad you liked it!!! My school had at least one kid die every year due to drunk driving and we never got let out of school. And I definitely see stuff on facebook all the time “remembering” them.

    • Christina says:

      One of the people in my undergrad class died a little over a year ago, and people still write on his wall. He was a great guy, but this creeps me out no end when it shows up on my feed.

    • Heather says:

      This happens with some of the people I know who have passed away, too. I most definitely think about the person who’s gone, but I don’t feel a need to post a message to them that everyone can see, and it kind of creeps me out when other people do it.

  2. Michelle says:

    I really liked the book as well. I think that Fredericks did such a great job writing an interesting and intriguing mystery while still getting to some pretty big issues. A side note: I, too, have friends who have died and people still post on their wall. The worst, though, is that one person’s parent (I think) still logs on under his account to see what his friends are doing, etc. I is like a punch in the gut every time I see him “online.” Sometimes the ability to forget is a kindness, and the internet never forgets.

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