One of the books I read on my trip was They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman. I was really excited to read this YA Mystery. YA Mystery is one of my favorite genres and I want to read many of them but they don’t always live up to my expectations. Let’s see where I ended up on this one!
A murder mystery set against the backdrop of an exclusive prep school on Long Island.
In Gold Coast, Long Island, everything from the expensive downtown shops to the manicured beaches, to the pressed uniforms of Jill Newman and her friends, looks perfect. But as Jill found out three years ago, nothing is as it seems.
Freshman year Jill's best friend, the brilliant, dazzling Shaila Arnold, was killed by her boyfriend. After that dark night on the beach, Graham confessed, the case was closed, and Jill tried to move on.
Now, it's Jill's senior year and she's determined to make it her best yet. After all, she's a senior and a Player--a member of Gold Coast Prep's exclusive, not-so-secret secret society. Senior Players have the best parties, highest grades and the admiration of the entire school. This is going to be Jill's year. She's sure of it.
But when Jill starts getting texts proclaiming Graham's innocence, her dreams of the perfect senior year start to crumble. If Graham didn't kill Shaila, who did? Jill vows to find out, but digging deeper could mean putting her friendships, and her future, in jeopardy.
They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman
Published by Razorbill on 04/08/2020
I quite like this cover. You immediately get a feel for the story, a murder, a prep school and popular kids. This is definitely a cover that makes me want to pick up a book! It also fits the vibe of the story very well.
“They say only the good die young, but that’s just a line in a stupid song we used to sing. It isn’t real. It isn’t true. I know that because Shaila Arnold was so many things—brilliant and funny, confident and wild. But honestly? She wasn’t all that good.”
Our main character Jill is a member of the not so secret society The Players at her school; Gold Coast Prep. Her life seems perfect and so do her friends and their lives. But three years ago her best friend was murdered by her boyfriend. And during her senior year she gets some texts suggesting Graham might not have killed Sheila.
After reading this synopsis I was expecting an exciting murder mystery set at a prep school. And while I definitely got a story set at a prep school I didn’t exactly get the murder mystery I was expecting. We only got about three clues for the ‘mystery’ and they just felt into Jill’s lap. Unfortunately the mystery was very predictable. I knew where the story was going very early on and the ending wasn’t exciting enough to negate that.
“It’s easy to convince yourself of something if you just pretend it’s the truth.”
I felt like this story was much more about Jill’s experience on the prep school with the ‘secret’ society. And while I usually really enjoy those stories this one was just missing something. There was some commentary on our misogynistic society but it was very subtle. And that was just pretty unfortunate. I wasn’t getting a murder mystery but I wasn’t getting a ‘good’ contemporary story either.
What I did get was a story with interesting characters and with a writing style I enjoyed. I read the story quite quickly and couldn’t really put it down. So while I was disappointed with the mystery I did enjoy the story. And that made it pretty hard to rate this one. In the end I went with 3,5 stars!
If you enjoy stories about privileged teens who are part of ‘secret’ societies at their high schools this might be one for you. Just don’t expect a surprising, well thought-out mystery 😉