REVIEW: I’VE GOT MY EYES ON YOU, BY MARY HIGGINS CLARK

 

When a terrible crime shocks a New Jersey community, all signs point to one suspect. But if he’s innocent as he claims, it means the murderer is still out there…

After throwing a party when her parents were away, 18-year-old Kerry Dowling is discovered lifeless at the bottom of the family pool. The police immediately question Kerry’s boyfriend, who—despite proclaiming his love for her—was seen arguing with Kerry that night. As neighbors and classmates grieve the loss of their friend, Kerry’s 28-year-old sister Aline, a guidance counselor, searches for answers. She’ll do anything to help the Detective Mike Wilson learn what really happened the night Kerry was killed.

Was someone watching Kerry the night of the murder? For Aline, the truth could be deadly.

My Thoughts: I’ve Got My Eyes on You grabbed me from the opening lines and held onto my interest throughout. I loved the short chapters and fast pace. A murder in a backyard, the search for the perpetrator, and a growing number of suspects kept me guessing.

The characters intrigued me, as I wondered which of them would turn out to be the killer.

Aline, the sister of Kerry Dowling, had just started a new job as a guidance counselor at the high school, so she worked with the students to find out more about Kerry’s life, vigorously following clues. She also found herself drawn to Mike Wilson, the primary detective, and he listened to her ideas and suggestions.

Scott Kimball, a lacrosse coach who had connections to the kids, seemed friendly and helpful. But then Aline began to resent how he seemed to be so pushy and overly attentive. She turned away from him in favor of Mike.

I liked how the case grew more complex over time, and I started having suspicions about one or two of the characters. How would the pursuit of answers place Aline and the high school girls in danger?

An engaging story that kept me racing to find answers while relaxing into the story. 4.5 stars.

***

REVIEW: PARIS RUNAWAY, BY PAULITA KINCER

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In St. Petersburg, Florida, it is summer break for Sadie Ford, a divorced mom and teacher, but before she can even plan her days ahead, her 17-year-old daughter Scarlett has turned her world upside down.

Thinking that Scarlett is at her dad’s house, Sadie is stunned to discover, from one of her daughter’s friends, that Scarlett has taken off for Paris to “lose her virginity” to Luc Rollande, the exchange student she’d had eyes for the previous year.

Sadie isn’t really the impulsive type, but suddenly she finds herself packing a large purse with essentials and a couple of changes of clothes, booking a plane ticket, and heading across the ocean herself.

Meanwhile, her older daughter, Evangeline, is safely ensconced at Tulane University.

As we follow Sadie in her pursuit of her daughter, we learn more about her before the divorce, what life looked like for her when her children were small and controllable, and how this new beginning she is stuck with is suddenly very frightening. In the early hours following her landing in Paris, we see Sadie struggle to navigate the arrondissements, and find her way into the apartment building where Luc lives.

Eventually she connects with Luc’s father Auguste, whose own apartment is down the street from his ex-wife Corinne’s, and despite the slight language barrier, they manage to talk about how to find their missing children. By now, both Sadie and Auguste realize that something more is going on with the teenagers, and between the two of them, they might just be able to bring them home safely.

I liked how, from Sadie’s first person narrative, we see her impressions of Paris, when she isn’t worrying endlessly. How she describes her reactions to the people she meets, like Corinne and her new husband Georges, and how their constant speaking in French around her, even though they knew English, made her feel excluded.

Paris Runaway, an intensely engaging novel, kept me rapidly turning pages, losing sleep, and eagerly trying to figure out what would happen in the end. Would Sadie and Auguste find the kids and extricate them from disaster? What would happen with the developing connection between them afterwards? I definitely wanted to know, so I very happily kept reading…and now I’m awarding 5 stars to this novel.

REVIEW: THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, BY JOHN GREEN

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They met in a cancer support group: Hazel Lancaster, a sixteen-year-old victim of thyroid cancer that has migrated to her lungs; and Augustus Waters, seventeen, in remission after bone cancer cost him one leg.

Their eyes connected across the room, and an instant spark ignites between them.

As love stories go, this one might seem unlikely, and as romantic characters, some might question these two. But from the very first page, it was impossible not to sense something special between them.

Narrated in Hazel’s first-person voice, we are privy to their intelligent and witty dialogue, with its hint of sarcasm. We learn more about them from these moments than any other back story could offer. The story is set in their home town of Indianapolis, Indiana.

Hazel’s favorite novel, which she has reread several times, is called An Imperial Affliction, by Peter Von Houten, and is narrated by a dying woman. Because the story ends mid-sentence, Hazel is obsessed with finding out the ending for the other characters. After Augustus also reads the book, the two of them develop a plan. To visit the author in Amsterdam, compliments of the Wish foundation.

What happens to the two of them in Amsterdam? Are they able to find the answers they seek? What do they do when Van Houten shows them a disappointing flaw in his character? And what unexpected truths does Van Houten later share?

In the final moments of The Fault in Our Stars, we are gripped with the reality of what will surely transpire for these individuals…and for us, since we are now invested in their destiny. From Van Houten’s book, Hazel and Augustus have gleaned this philosophy of sick kids as “side effects,” a way of accepting their situation:

“Cancer kids are essentially side effects of the relentless mutation that made the diversity of life on earth possible.”

 

These characters are like real people, and as such, have their good days and bad days. Sometimes their frustrations come out like an explosion, while at other times, the characters glean the necessary support from their group and their families to live each day to the fullest. I liked the characters because they are not like the superficial teenagers that are often spotlighted in YA books. For this reason, I enjoyed them and wanted to root for them. The fact that they are unusual does not make them less believable, as some have noted, but makes them likeable.

It is impossible not to feel connected to these two characters and to empathize with how their lives have taken them on a journey they would not have chosen for themselves. But without this journey, they might not have met. Was this destiny the fault of their stars? An unforgettable story that will live on past the final page. 5.0 stars.