Book Review: No One Else Can Have You

No One Else Can Have You
Published By: HarperTeen
Publication Date: January 7, 2014
Page Count: 384
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss
Audience: Young Adult - Mystery/Thriller

Wow. This was one of the most disturbing novels I have read in awhile. In spite of the difficult subject matter, there were still some hilarious moments. I knew that this was supposed to be a YA murder mystery with a hint of Fargo thrown in, but I was somewhat shocked by the graphic nature of the crime. This was an interesting read that I would highly recommend to mystery fans, but I would strongly suggest not handing this to anyone under the age of sixteen. As it is, I might have a few nightmares.

Friendship, Wisconsin is one of those serene small towns were everyone knows everyone and people live their doors unlocked at night; the cop cars even have smiley faces on them. The idyllic peace is shattered the night eighteen year old Ruth Fried is brutally murdered on the way to her best friend, Kippy's, house. The town begins to turn on one another as they attempt to discover the murderer in their mist. When a suspect is jailed, something keeps nagging at Kippy that the police have the wrong man. Armed with Ruth's journal and a head full of theories, Kippy sets out to find the real killer and bring them to justice.

Kippy is one of those characters that I couldn't decide how I felt about for the majority of the book. She's awkward and unsure of herself. In many ways, I felt like Kippy was far too immature for her years. She often seemed like a twelve year old trapped in a sixteen year old's body. Her behavior and personality make a lot of sense once everything comes to light about her mother. Her upbringing isn't exactly what you'd call normal. As I read, I kept trying to figure out how Ruth and Kippy had stayed friends for so long when it was overly apparent that these two girls were vastly different.

My feelings about the novel overall closely mirrored my feelings about Kippy. I wasn't sure if I liked it for about 40% of the novel. I kept plowing along because I was invested in finding out the identity of Ruth's killer. I had my own theories about who had committed the crime; one of my theories turned out to be correct. Hale litters the text with clues, but doesn't make the killer's identity obvious. I'm glad I stuck with this one because I did enjoy reading this one and piecing together the clues. 

I had trouble settling into the Wisconsin culture; this novel is littered with social cues and dialect. I've never visited that part of the country and have no prior experience with it beyond one other YA novel and Green Bay Packers football. It's certainly an intriguing part of the United States. I wonder, are people really that polite? (at least outwardly...)

I was shocked at how funny some parts of the novel were - especially because the subject matter was often gruesome and intense. Kippy is hilarious once you get to know her and her Nancy Drew like adventures provided a layer of intrigue and danger. I particularly enjoyed the scenes in which Kippy hands out with Albus. 

Hale's debut novel is one that I would recommend to mystery/thriller fans or those looking for a little dark humor. As mentioned in the introduction, this is certainly a read for older teens. In addition to the gruesome details of Ruth's demise, there is a lot of language and discussion of intimate moments. 

One Last Gripe: This one drags a little between 20-40% - keep with it, the action starts moving pretty quickly after that point. It also takes a little time to settle into Hale's writing style.

My Favorite Thing About This Book: I liked tracking down clues alongside Kippy.

First Sentence: A police officer comforts a woman on the shoulder of a rural highway.

Favorite Character: Davey

Least Favorite Character: Staake

Small towns are nothing if not friendly. Friendship, Wisconsin (population: 688) is no different. Around here, everyone wears a smile. And no one ever locks their doors. Until, that is, high school sweetheart Ruth Fried is found murdered. Strung up like a scarecrow in the middle of a cornfield.

Unfortunately, Friendship’s police are more adept at looking for lost pets than catching killers. So Ruth’s best friend, Kippy Bushman, armed with only her tenacious Midwestern spirit and Ruth’s secret diary (which Ruth’s mother had asked her to read in order to redact any, you know, sex parts), sets out to find the murderer. But in a quiet town like Friendship—where no one is a suspect—anyone could be the killer.