Passion. Romance. Murder. The combination is frequent, but the execution of that combination is a whole other story. It feels like a simple formula, however, human relationships of any kind are anything but simple. Understanding them is complicated enough, let alone creating them in fiction. The secret is always the same and it hides between the details.
There are many layers to this story. It starts with a dramatic, teenage comprehension of the world with obviously dangerous consequences, but as the story moves forward, so does our understanding of Henrietta’s depth. The parts of the story told from her own perspective leads beyond wishing to know the facts and making conclusions, which is a refreshing quality while reading a mystery thriller. Henrietta’s mind is more and more interesting in every new page, discovering her complexities and, thus, making Henrietta a very dear and relatable character. She is extremely intelligent, manipulating, kind, serious and more mature than many twice her age. The details her story provides, open up many important issues of today’s society, which is another incredible asset in favour of the author.
Digging deeper into the story and the characters, Mejia gently reveals how one’s surroundings affects a person in every way, especially those in small communities. The notion of neighbourly relationships where everyone knows everyone’s business and the expectations such a community might inflict on an individual are wonderfully portrayed and, in fact, the central issue. Henrietta’s entire identity is defined because and through the community she lives in. She is perceived in a certain way, so her lies and pretences are her defence mechanism to cope with what she dislikes. Even her wish to leave her childhood home after school is hugely defined by the way others perceive her and the way she perceives herself. The author offered the same quality in describing other characters. Her consistency in portraying all of them through their surroundings makes the story even more real.
There are characters who are perfectly happy with their identity within the community they live in; there are those who used to live there, but had to return after living in a big city for years and there are characters who moved there from the big city. Each of them tackle the surroundings differently, but their actions and attitudes are defined by the community one way or another. The motive of the big city versus a small one was very represented through literature, especially in the 20th century. It is refreshing to be reminded that the motive is, actually, an everlasting one.
Being able to tackle such deep and important sociological issues underneath a good plot and atmosphere of the genre is a difficult task, so it is no surprise that future titles by Mindy Mejia will be eagerly expected.
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