- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: Schwartz & Wade; First Editiion edition (April 24, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0375868437
- ISBN-13: 978-0375868436
- Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 40 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,166,751 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Girl in the Park Hardcover – April 24, 2012
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Born with a cleft palate, Rain was cruelly mocked by her classmates at the exclusive Alcott School, but after years of speech therapy, her speech has greatly improved. Even so, in her junior year, not talking is still a habit. One friend, Wendy, encouraged Rain: “You’re brilliant. So give up the silence.” But the teens grew apart after Wendy became the school’s wild girl. Then Wendy’s strangled body is found in a park, and headlines and school gossip paint her as a slut whose behavior led to her random killing. Rain remembers Wendy’s kindness, though, and as she realizes that facts aren’t adding up, she recognizes that she is going to have to speak up. Fredericks has constructed a taut, suspenseful mystery with convincing characters whose actions and motives propel the plot. Rain is an unusual, compelling protagonist, a watcher who must step reluctantly out of her comfort zone. Observant readers will likely suspect the culprit before Rain, but they will find as much satisfaction in observing Rain’s personal growth as in the solving of the intriguing mystery. Grades 8-12. --Lynn Rutan
Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, February 20, 2012:
“Rain’s voice provides an authentic portrait of grief and powerlessness, while Fredericks (Crunch Time) offers profound, provocative commentary on what it means to grow up in the age of Facebook.”
Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2012:
"[B]oth Rain and Wendy emerge as fully rounded, flawed characters that teens will recognize and connect with. A satisfying whodunit with enough clues and red herrings to keep mystery fans happy."
Booklist, April 1, 2012:
"Fredericks has constructed a taut, suspenseful mystery with convincing characters whose actions and motives propel the plot. Rain is an unusual, compelling protagonist, a watcher who must step reluctantly out of her comfort zone. Observant readers...will find as much satisfaction in observing Rain’s personal growth as in the solving of the intriguing mystery."
School Library Journal, May 2012:
"The story starts off slowly, gradually building to a surprise ending. Rather than a heavy-handed explanation of Rain’s cleft palate, details are sprinkled throughout the story, building readers’ understanding of her communication difficulties and readers’ compassion for her."
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, May 2012:
"The mystery unravels amidst a sensitive exploration of Rain’s coming to terms with her own quiet, demure personality, with its flaws and its advantages measured against Wendy’s extroversion and desire for recognition and love. The crime itself offers up multiple suspects before a triumphant resolution tinged with melancholy, a conclusion that highlights the fact that while growth is certainly possible, some people, unfortunately, never make it past the slights of high school."
VOYA, February 2012:
"As in her previous novels, Fredericks paints a perceptive picture of teens and their struggles with social pressures. Rain is an interesting protagonist to follow as she tries to overcome her own issues in order to defend her friend who can no longer speak for herself. Fredericks creates believable adult characters as well, which is too often not the case in teen novels. The very real mystery of the story is a riveting background for Rain’s self-struggle, and the plot twists make this a true page-turner. This book will find a ready audience in fans of Sarah Dessen and Deb Caletti who are looking for something a bit edgier."
Top customer reviews
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For a while I was stuck between a 2.5 rating and a 3 rating. Unfortunately, even though Maria Fredericks talks about series topics for the YA crowd, the formulaic plot couldn't raise this book to a 3.
Plot: A young girl goes missing after a house party one night and she is found strangled and sexually assaulted the next day. I chose this book because it's the classic YA murder mystery, especially when it involves a strained relationship. The novel starts right in the action; our MC, Rain, receives a call early one morning from her ex-best friend's mother wondering if she knew Wendy's whereabouts. The novel progresses as Rain finds clues that leads her to believe that the culprit was a fellow classmate and she does whatever she can to bring justice to Wendy Greller. I really liked that Rain was a fragile creature with insecurities. This novel is as much about Rain's attempt to find herself as it is to find Wendy's killer. I also liked that Fredricks brings addresses the issue of victim-blaming and slut-shaming. These are very serious issues in the media and it was good to see it addressed for the high school crowd. Unfortunately, the mystery was too easy to solve and I felt like I was reading just to confirm my theory (it was confirmed). There were no new developments, just waiting for Rain to realize what you, the reader, had already realized.
Characters: Rain is a very interesting main character. She was born with a cleft palate which made her the target for most of her young life. As the book is fairly short (just 224 pages) and was not enough to get to know the characters. We meet Rain who has the most development, Taylor who is Rain's best friend, and Nico who is the prime suspect. I didn't make a connection with any of the characters, I barely made one with Rain. There are hints about Rain's personal life situation, but not enough to form a full picture.
Setting: The Girl in the Park takes place at an upper class New York high school. There isn't much to say about it. Rain moves mostly between her house and school, and I couldn't really make a clear image of what everyday life was for the residents. Many of characters allude to the socioeconomic status of the neighborhood and how there are outsiders, but I didn't get that. From anyone.
Short n Sweet: Maria Fredericks' The Girl in the Park is a stereotypical "party-girl-found-dead whodunnit with no surprises or loops. The characters are mostly one dimensional but Fredericks does make the issue of slut shaming a focus and how people are eager to blame the victim rather than the true culprit.
I enjoyed the parts of this book that had Rain exploring who she is, as a result of her friendship with Wendy. I enjoyed the complicated mixed feelings she had about Wendy, who very much deserved her reputation, even if she didn't deserve to die. I enjoyed the emotional journey that Rain underwent. Rain is a complex character, and surprisingly, so was Wendy, and it was only through Rain's memories of her, that I ever really understood that. At the beginning, I also thought the mystery was well done. It certainly had me turning the pages. Where it went wrong for me was when I pinpointed the killer, far too soon. I don't get mad when I predict the ending, unless it is WAY early in the story, and that is what happened here. I did think the way Rain worked it all out was well done, but I don't like that I KNEW, without a doubt, the "who". It was like the author tried too hard to put the focus on the guy she wanted us to think did it, and in doing so, made it glaringly obvious that it was the someone else... My other complaint about this book is that there was ZERO levity. Even in books containing serious subject matter, such as this one, there should always be something to break the tension here and there, and this book had nothing. Because of this, it became a bit tedious. That said, I still enjoyed this quick, intense read. It wasn't perfect, but books rarely are. If you like a fast-paced, intense mystery, give this book a go, just don't expect any huge surprises in the end.
My Rating: 3.5 stars
Grade Level Recommendation: This book has a bunch of teen drinking, sex, inappropriate relationships, a brutal murder, and some language. I would say this is appropriate for grades 9 and up (ages 14+).
The book is told in the point of view of one of the main characters, Rain. Rain is on a quest to find out who killed her old best friend, Wendy Geller. This tragic incident causes rain to dig up things from the past, and face her fear of communicating with people she doesn’t know well. She knows there is more to this story and feels the need to find out for herself. But if she finds out the truth will it just hurt even more people?
The reason why I liked this book so much is because it deals with issues like teen popularity and situations along those lines. The conflict was said right from the beginning so the book was basically finding out who caused it. This book was well written and it kept me turning the pages to find the resolution. I was very pleased and I would recommend to a friend.