With Malice by Eileen Cook, HMH Books for Young Readers (June 7, 2016). ISBN: 9780544805095. Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS.
You wake up, or more accurately, come to in a hospital room. As your brain begins functioning, you realize you’re pretty badly injured. When you start thinking more clearly, you realize that a chunk of your life has been ripped from your memory and that words elude you when you try to speak. Welcome to Jill’s new world. When she asks to call her long time best friend Simone, her estranged parents stonewall her and before she can start putting the pieces together, have an overbearing lawyer intruding in her life.
As Jill ever so slowly starts putting things together, she’s horrified to learn that not only are six weeks of her life missing, but she can’t remember anything from her long-awaited trip to Italy. Then she has to face the frightening reality that Simone is dead and lots of people think she killed her on the trip.
The story proceeds from there like very slick layers of an onion being peeled to reveal a bit more in every chapter. Many of the following chapters are interviews done by local police, others areby Italian cops of people on the trip as well as Italians who saw the girls in hotels or just before the event that killed Simone. Jill’s own attempts to regain her memory, deal with her parents, stepmother, the press and her lawyer, as well as a new friend she makes in the rehabilitation center, all add more pieces to the puzzle. Even so, the ending was a surprise to me and one I found to be well crafted. Teen mystery lovers will devour this book and feel a sense of satisfaction afterward.