“I picked this one up because of its setting (a college campus), and the premise (four years of friendship that ends with a death). What I ended up with was something more nuanced and much darker than I imagined. Brockman is spot on with her descriptions of modern college life and student hi-jinks at an elite college in a small town. She also captures the nuances and dysfunction of college friendships that change and fragment over time as this group of six begins keeps secrets from each other and start growing apart. From the beginning, we know our narrator, Malin is hiding secrets from her past and there is something about her that seems just a bit off, giving us a touch of the unreliable narrator vibe. The fragmented structure that moves between their freshman year, Senior Day, and different points in Malin’s childhood leaves you unsettled and disoriented as the book quietly unfolds. Despite a smart trail of breadcrumbs, I did not anticipate the ending. And I can’t really say much more because I will ruin the twists and turns that make this so fascinating. I really need someone to read this so we can talk about it. “
From Penguin Random House:
“In her first weeks at Hawthorne College, Malin is swept up into a tight-knit circle that will stick together through all four years. There’s Gemma, an insecure theater major from London; John, a tall, handsome, wealthy New Englander; Max, John’s cousin, a shy pre-med major; Khaled, a wisecracking prince from Abu Dhabi; and Ruby, a beautiful art history major. But Malin isn’t like the rest of her friends. She’s an expert at hiding her troubled past. She acts as if she shares the preoccupations of those around her—dating, partying—all while using her extraordinary insight to detect their deepest vulnerabilities and weaknesses.
By Senior Day, on the cusp of graduation, Malin’s secrets—and those of her friends—are revealed. While she scrambles to maintain her artfully curated image, her missteps set in motion a devastating chain of events that ends in a murder. And as fragile relationships hang in the balance and close alliances shift, Malin must test the limits of what she’s capable of to stop the truth from coming out.
In a mesmerizing novel that peels back the innumerable layers of a seductive protagonist, debut author Cambria Brockman brings to life an entrancing story of friendship, heartbreak, and betrayal.”