OPINION: 4 STARS
A well crafted mystery with a interesting central character, The Girl in the Park pulls in some known elements in a well done way. Though the choppiness of the chapters and scenes, and the rapid switching between past and present, made it hard for me to fully delve into the book, there is still something addicting and intriguing about the book. Pulling in some rough emotional aspects, and having a quick pacing, The Girl in the Park is a fast but thrilling read.
Rain is more than just the shy girl – she’s the girl who’s been bullied enough due to her cleft palate and speech problems that she’s quiet and keeps to herself. When Wendy busted through that, and befriended her despite the physical problem, she definitely left a mark on Rain. Though the girls aren’t really friends now, there is still a quiet sense of kinship that drives Rain to want to find the truth behind Wendy’s death. Pulling in instances from the past and cataloging not only the good times but the bad times between them as well, Rain goes through a tremendous amount of growth that is scripted in a choppy yet well done way. Though she has her moments of weakness, and definitely has a few flaws, she’s a great character with a strong story and drive in her.
Wendy is brash and showy, the kind of girl who goes after other girl’s boyfriends and seems to have no qualms about it. A girl who gets around, and one who is the life of the party even in a bad way, it’s almost no surprise when she turns up dead on the park. Still, despite the in your face way about her, Wendy had a soft side to her, and was a great friend when it counted. Though she was the kind to get hurt easily, and created her own problems, readers will sympathize with her, and not just because she ends up dead.
The mystery around Wendy’s death, and the ensuing investigation, are well executed in a smart and realistic way. With little clues dropped here and there, but keeping the bigger things hidden, readers will make some connections but not all of them, giving them some feeling of control while still eager to find out the truth. Having a strong emotional and sympathetic element to it, and almost painful in the full scope, the actual reasons for everything are both realistic and understandable.
Quietly enthralling, though hard for me to get into due to the style of the writing and scene shifts, The Girl in the Park is a fast and fun read. I love murder mysteries, and this one didn’t disappoint. With a captivating central character, and pulling in some great elements, this one is enjoyable and worthwhile.
Reading level: Ages 14 and up
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade
Publication Date: April 24, 2012