Synopsis: Everyone in Fairview knows the story. Pretty and popular high school senior Andie Bell was murdered by her boyfriend, Sal Singh, who then killed himself. It was all anyone could talk about. And five years later, Pip sees how the tragedy still haunts her town.
But she can’t shake the feeling that there was more to what happened that day. She knew Sal when she was a child, and he was always so kind to her. How could he possibly have been a killer?
Now a senior herself, Pip decides to reexamine the closed case for her final project, at first just to cast doubt on the original investigation. But soon she discovers a trail of dark secrets that might actually prove Sal innocent . . . and the line between past and present begins to blur. Someone in Fairview doesn’t want Pip digging around for answers, and now her own life might be in danger.
Review: I have always enjoyed mysteries. I read the entire Nancy Drew series as a young child and every Kay Scarpetta book as a young adult. This book is top-notch when it comes to murder mysteries. I highly enjoyed it. There are three books planned for this series, including Good Girl, Bad Blood, and As Good as Dead. I’m not sure how Holly Jackson can top this book, so I’m hesitant to continue.
Discussion: I admired the two main characters in the book. Pip decides to re-investigate a murder-suicide from years ago. The suspect, Sal, was kind to her as a child, and she doesn’t see him as a murderer. She gets the suspect’s brother, Ravi, to help her investigate. Both Pip and Ravi hope that Sal did not murder his girlfriend and then commit suicide. Even with their hope of his innocence, they were open to all evidence, even if it caused them suffering. Their true goal was to learn the truth about what happened that night.
The characters had a lot of hope even in the midst of suffering. I’ve discussed hope before in two other posts that you can read here and here.
Hope is one of the theological virtues. It should be discussed often with children, especially in times of suffering. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states in paragraph 1818:
The virtue of hope responds to the aspiration to happiness which God has placed in the heart of every man; it takes up the hopes that inspire men’s activities and purifies them so as to order them to the Kingdom of heaven; it keeps man from discouragement; it sustains him during times of abandonment; it opens up his heart in expectation of eternal beatitude.
I struggle with hope because there is so much suffering in the world. It seems this suffering is only increasing, and there is so much sorrow. When I read that quote, I cringe a little – “keeps man from discouragement” and “sustains during times of abandonment”. What if discouragement or abandonment never ends? In this book, Ravi had a difficult life. He suffered the loss of his brother after a murder and suicide. Everyone treated him awful as his brother was a murderer. There were times when the evidence showed him this truth, which meant his suffering wasn’t going to end. If they proved his innocence, then someone murdered his brother. Again, his suffering was not going to end.
How do we continue to have hope when we know the suffering is not going to end?
In the book, The Mountain of Silence: A Search for Orthodox Spirituality, Kyriacos C. Markides quotes a monk who says this about the church’s teaching on suffering,
“[suffering] is not something to cherish and pursue. Rather, to the extent that suffering is unavoidable, accept it as a gift from heaven. Then it will have a therapeutic impact on your heart. Define it in your mind as an opportunity for spiritual growth because that is what it is in reality.”
“suffering is an unavoidable aspect of the human condition – death, illness, loss of loved ones – it can also be a source of meaning and purpose in life, assuming that the suffering is not self-inflicted.”
We can spend too much time trying to avoid suffering, which can cause us to lose hope. God’s greatest gift is to use evil for good. In times of never-ending suffering we can ask God how He wants us to use the suffering.
How can you change your mind about your suffering and view it through the lens of hope?