Olivia was only three years old when her mother was murdered. Now, fourteen years later, she only remembers what she’s been told about the incident: High school sweethearts Naomi Benson and Terry Weeks, twenty and twenty-one respectively, took their three-year-old out to hunt for a Christmas tree. All three and Terry’s truck were reported missing when they failed to return home. One day later, the toddler was identified as a girl found three hours away, abandoned at a local Wal-Mart. Another three weeks passed before Naomi’s body was discovered and Terry’s truck was found in an airport parking lot.
Of course the running theory was that Terry murdered his girlfriend and left his daughter before escaping. But new evidence proves that wasn’t the case. As the only witness, Olivia has always wondered if the truth about that day might be hidden somewhere in the depths of her own memory. And now she’s determined to find out. But the killer who once spared her isn’t likely to do so again.
April Henry has made quite a name for herself in teen mysteries. But Henry was a name on my radar long before she broke onto the teen scene thanks to her Claire Montrose series. It was a series I quite enjoyed (I can’t see a vanity plate without it coming to mind.) so I was understandably excited to sink my teeth into her latest teen release. And I was not disappointed.
Olivia, born Ariel, is an emancipated minor who’s long lived with the knowledge that her father murdered her mother and then ran for the hills. But that belief is shaken when Terry Weeks’s remains are discovered fourteen years after the crime in question took place. The guilt of knowing she was so wrong in her assumptions about her father prompts Olivia to attend his funeral and face the people who knew him best. And in doing so she realizes that she can anonymously dig into the case on her own.
As with any amateur investigation, especially one so close to the heroine in question, the killer does eventually catch wind. This of course leaves Olivia vulnerable to a killer whose face she can’t remember in spite of the fact that random memories of her childhood have started to return.
The Girl I Used to Be is a quick read that’s absolutely packed with suspense. It’s an excellent addition to the genre (and a fantastic return to her work for this older fan).
5/16 Becky LeJeune
THE GIRL I USED TO BE by April Henry. Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (May 3, 2016). ISBN: 978-1627793322. 240p.