Monday, August 26, 2013


by Jennifer duBois

Genre:  Fiction Pages:  384 Published:  9/24/13 by Random House Format:  ARC
My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars 

I received this ARC from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Cartwheel by Jennifer Dubois is loosely based on the real life account of Amanda Knox, who was accused of murdering her roommate in Italy in 2007. (I knew very little about Amanda Knox and her trial, so the fact that this book was inspired by that story held no meaning to me).

Cartwheel is set in Buenos Aires, where foreign exchange student Lily Hayes is accused of murdering her fellow American roommate Katy Kellers. The novel shifts through the perspectives of multiple people involved in this case: Lily, Lily's family, Lily's boyfriend and the prosecuting attorney. Through it all, the question circulates: did Lily do it?

Even though the question of "Did Lily do it?" is central throughout the book, I don't think the fact of whether she did it or not was the main purpose of this novel. The novel is about the perceptions people have, and how each perspective is skewed by personal biases, the media and other influences. I was especially struck by how many people were set in their beliefs about Lily based on only minimal and incomplete information. And how they refused to change those beliefs even when new information was presented to them. And by how true that is in real life as well!

I really enjoyed the character of Sebastian LeCompte (that name!), Lily's boyfriend. His dialogue was just great. I actually found him to be obnoxious and unlikeable most of the time. But he was still fun to read about! I especially enjoyed the scene where Eduardo, the prosecutor, questions him. Every time Eduardo asked a question, I was on the edge of my seat eager to see how Sebastian would respond.

I wanted to give this book 5 stars, because I really enjoyed it a lot. I thought it was smart, well written, and thought provoking. I liked DuBois' writing style for the most part, but at the same time I felt it was just unnecessarily wordy at times. Like maybe DuBois was just trying a little too hard to make this an intelligent book. I've seen several reviewers comment about an overuse of the thesaurus, and I did feel that it was over descriptive at times while reading. I'm hoping that this is because I was reading an early copy of the book, and that more editing might possibly be done before its official release? I think with just a little editing in spots, this could be an excellent five star read!

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