Cartwheel by Jennifer duBois

Cartwheel by Jennifer duBois was one of those books that I was anxiously awaiting to arrive on my Netgalley shelf. Then I forgot all about it. It got lost in the sea of books floating on my Kindle until I unearthed it last week.

About the book:
Random House // 9.24.13
When Lily Hayes arrives in Buenos Aires for her semester abroad, she is enchanted by everything she encounters: the colorful buildings, the street food, the handsome, elusive man next door. Her studious roommate Katy is a bit of a bore, but Lily didn’t come to Argentina to hang out with other Americans.
Five weeks later, Katy is found brutally murdered in their shared home, and Lily is the prime suspect. But who is Lily Hayes? It depends on who’s asking. As the case takes shape—revealing deceptions, secrets, and suspicious DNA—Lily appears alternately sinister and guileless through the eyes of those around her: the media, her family, the man who loves her and the man who seeks her conviction. With mordant wit and keen emotional insight, Cartwheel offers a prismatic investigation of the ways we decide what to see—and to believe—in one another and ourselves.

My thoughts:
I enjoyed this novel and thought it was an intriguing read. The plot was interesting, and I feel it was my advantage that I only vaguely remember the news story which this is loosely inspired by.
I felt like duBois did a good job on developing the right types of characters to cast in this psychological thriller. Lily has just enough personality to like and hate at the same time (I mean really, she is pretty annoying) and Katy has just the right amount of personality to pay attention to her but not fall madly in love or find a deep seeded hate. This allowed the reader to think about the murder abstractly, instead of being tied to either girl and predicting (or hoping for) an outcome based on emotions. The other characters all play their part- the little sister whose hate is brewing, the boyfriend who is aloof, the host family who picks sides early on, and Lily's parents who come together for Lily. The other main character, Eduardo was cast in a way that illuminated Katy's story while also giving a glimpse into investigative work. The only thing I didn't care for was the way Eduardo's part of the story was told- I didn't like him as a narrator, especially when he brought his personal life in- I feel like this was just fluff added to fill in the story.
In general, Cartwheel did keep me guessing as to how it would all play out, which is essential to a thrilling read.  Like I mentioned before, without a real allegiance to Katy or Lily, duBois created a scenario that we can view from all angles and that is what kept things moving and kept me guessing. She did a masterful job with this.
I was quite bothered at times by how wordy this novel was. At times I felt like I was back in  high school studying SAT vocabulary. While I like a robust sentence, sometimes it just was over the top and felt forced.
Overall though, I would recommend this book to mystery and thriller fans, as well as crime buffs. For those who followed the Amanda Knox case, I think this book could go either way.. I enjoyed not really remembering what happened in that real-life case, but then again, there were times where I wish I did know the original case as well.

About the author:
Jennifer duBois was born in Northampton, MA in 1983. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and a former Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, duBois' work has appeared in Playboy, the Wall Street Journal, The Missouri Review, The Kenyon Review, Narrative and elsewhere. Her first novel, A Partial History of Lost Causes, was published by The Dial Press in 2012, and was honored by the National Book Foundation's 5 Under 35 program. In her spare time, duBois enjoys reading tales of disaster on Everest and smugly reminding everyone that she has a subscription to the Economist. 

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow

FTC: I received this egalley from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. Book synopsis, and author information from Amazon.com

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