Secrets can weigh you down. They crawl around your guts, demanding exposure to light and air. When they don’t get it, they burrow in and change you.
Title: Beware That Girl
Author: Teresa Toten
Publication: May 31st 2016 by Doubleday Canada
Summary from Goodreads:
For fans of We Were Liars, The Girl on the Train, and Gone Girl, this powerful psychological thriller with multiple mysteries is set against the backdrop of the megawealthy elite of New York City. Toten delves into the mesmerizing yet dysfunctional world of those who manipulate but seem ever so charming. With its gripping pace and Hitchcockian twists, Beware That Girl will keep readers guessing until the very last line.
The Haves. The Have-Nots. Kate O’Brian appears to be a Have-Not. Her whole life has been a series of setbacks she’s had to snake her way out of—some more sinister than others. But she’s determined to change that. She’s book smart. She’s street-smart. Oh, and she’s also a masterful liar.
As the scholarship student at the Waverly School in NYC, Kate has her work cut out for her: her plan is to climb the social ladder and land a spot at Yale. She’s already found her “people” among the senior class “it” girls—specifically in the cosseted, mega-wealthy yet deeply damaged Olivia Sumner. As for Olivia, she considers Kate the best friend she’s always needed, the sister she never had.
When the handsome and whip-smart Mark Redkin joins the Waverly administration, he immediately charms his way into the faculty’s and students’ lives—becoming especially close to Olivia, a fact she’s intent on keeping to herself. It becomes increasingly obvious that Redkin poses a threat to Kate, too, in a way she can’t reveal—and can’t afford to ignore. How close can Kate and Olivia get to Mark without having to share their dark pasts?
Well…. that just happened. This is one of those cases where I probably should have listened to other reviews before requesting it for myself, because they were right — dang flabbit. Beware That Girl is one of those books that puts stars in your eyes when you read the description, and then rips all your hopes and dreams right out of your gut when you start reading it. What was marketed as something I would have died to get my hands on – a love child of We Were Liars and Gone Girl (Hell yes, count me in) – was, in fact, a miscalculated and misleading label that led me right into a world of disappointment.
We have two main protagonists and narrators for this tale, Kate O’Brian and Oliva Sumner. One is manipulative, the other is in need of healing. Both are smart, but one depends upon the other. It is a paras tic relationship: Kate isn’t afraid to do whatever it takes to be at the top, or to use whomever she desires to achieve the same goal. Oliva? Not so much, which is slightly ironic considering Oliva is the A-lister who is part of the Haves and Kate is a scholarship kid. So, despite my qualms about everything else, I do have to give some props for flipping the stereotype.
As it always goes, everything changes because of a boy. And, sadly, this is when things went sideways for me. I think Mark Redkin’s addition to the story could have changed the whole dynamic in a powerful way – but, instead, he just fit into another stereotypical position of the boy who breaks friends apart. While I did appreciate his not so nice side, I just felt that it was too forced and too unbelievable – it just kind of ruined it for me.
Overall, Beware That Girl – while having the potential to be interesting – fell flat. Though it has some good characters and a wonderfully written (but obviously unhealthy) friendship, that alone was not enough to redeem the plot and the cookie-cutter caricature cast of characters.