Hello Kittens! I’ve been on more of a mystery/thriller kick lately, so I hope you’ll indulge me for a little while longer. This week I’ve got a Young Adult Thriller revolving around a young woman and her boyfriend who go for a hike in the woods one day. Only one of them comes out of those woods alive. I can tell you, that from my perspective, mistake number one was definitely going into the woods in the first place…just kidding. I love hiking under the right circumstances. This was a gripping story about a small town that is rocked when one of their young stars winds up dead in what everyone at first believes is an accident. It has love, betrayals, court room drama, and teen angst all rolled into one 320 page story and it was quite the ride. I hope you’ll give it a shot if you see this one in stores or in your local library.
Title: All Eyes On Her
Author: L. E. Flynn
Author website: http://www.laurieelizabethflynn.com/
Publish date: August 18, 2020
Mark Forrester and Tabitha Cousins were the “it” couple in their town. He was a Princeton boy, fulfilling his dreams of becoming a big name in collegiate swimming, while she was finishing up her senior year at the local high school. They are well-known in their town and their relationship has been electric from day one. The town is heartbroken when Mark, their golden boy, falls to his death during the hike and Tabitha gets lost in the woods for hours trying to find help. People say they never should have gone on the hike if they didn’t know what they were doing, and why did they go to a notoriously dangerous spot if neither of them even liked hiking?
In the days and weeks following Mark’s death speculation abounds about Tabby and how their relationship played out. Yes, they were hot and heavy and everyone knew it, but everyone also knew that the two had been having some problems lately. Both were accused of exhibiting jealousy and possessive behavior. Both had friends who were begging them to end things. Both had their own reasons for going on the hike that day. With Mark out of the picture, the town begins to wonder about how far Tabby would have gone to free herself from a toxic relationship, and as the investigation into his death heats up, people all over the country will take sides.
This story is told from the alternating perspectives of Tabby and Mark’s friends. The reader never gets a chapter from Mark, so they are left to depend on his friends and other bystanders to hear his side of the story. Some chapters also feature text exchanges and the online stories from various news websites, along with their comments sections. Information is given out slowly, with the reader left to piece together large parts of the story themselves, largely depending on how different people saw the same event. Some characters are convinced that Tabby is a murdered and some are convinced that she may have been forced to defend herself against an increasingly aggressive Mark.
Tabby is the only one who knows the truth, and hers is a perspective that is only briefly shared with the reader. In chapters from each of their best friends and their siblings, the reader gets to know how Tabby and Mark acted towards each other and how everything led up to that moment in the woods. Parts of the story are missing, understandably since Mark’s version is not represented and Tabby’s story is told the way that Tabby wants it told. It creates a situation where the reader has a cast of potentially unreliable narrators, all twisting the story to meet their own needs. It’s a thrilling mystery that utilizes the versatile nature of teenage friendships and relationships to make an already complicated situation even more complicated. Every person the reader meets had some role to play in what happened then and what happens next.
Why I liked it:
This story is much more complex than I originally thought it would be based on the synopsis. It is much more about the relationships that these teens had with each other and other people in the town than it is about what actually occurred when they were in the woods.
I appreciate that we see real emotional growth from some of the characters, as would be expected in a book that takes place over more than 12 months. At first it seemed liked the characters were going to be cast in somewhat stereotypical roles for the entirety of the novel, but the second half of the book is a turning point for several characters, most notably Bridget, Lou, and Kyla. They each get an arc that is more developed than I originally imagined for them.
What I would like to change:
I can’t give too much detail without spoiling anything, but I will say that the ending lacked the resolutions that I was looking for. Also, it felt like some characters just fell by the wayside at the end (Beck).
Disclaimer: I received an electronic galley of this title from the publisher on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
My library rating: For a book that dealt with teenagers and murder, I actually thought this title was pretty tame. There’s some cursing and there is discussion of an abortion, but nothing graphic.
4 glasses of lemonade= a book you could recommend to a book group or anybody who reads. You might find controversial subject matter, but it is handled delicately.
My personal preference rating: I rated this title 4 stars. The character development was good and the mystery was solid. It had moments of high intensity and kept my interest throughout.