Small towns are nothing if not friendly. Friendship, Wisconsin (population:
689688) 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
In the small town of Friendship Wisconsin, Kippy Bushman's best friend Ruth is found murdered- hung
in a cornfield with her mouth stitched shut. The entire town blames her boyfriend Colt, but upon receiving Ruth's diary, and slowly deciphering her unreadable handwriting, Kippy learns that Ruth has many secrets, including the fact that she was having an affair and that she really didn't like Kippy that much!
Kippy has the gnawing sense that Colt didn't do it. So, with the help of Ruth's ex- military brother Davey, they go on a quest to find the real murderer.
When I read the synopsis for this book months before the release, I couldn't wait. I thought it was going to be something very different, very dark, very creepy. Not what I expected at all. And clearly by the mixed reviews, the general consensus was the same. But I don't think people are quite "getting it." And that's such a shame, dontcha know?
It's satire woven in a dark comedy, with every small town Wisconsin stereotype you can conjure up. It's weird and quirky and disturbing at some points, how undisturbed that characters are over the murders in their peaceful town. But that's what makes this book so good. It almost reminded me of Napoleon Dynamite, in its poking fun at small town life and how slow they are to catch up to the world in every aspect of it. While there is a romantic aspect, it’s not the central focus of the book, which is a definite change in YA.
And Kippy- she's smart and funny, and a huge dork who actually wears a utility belt to hold her pens and Ruth's notebook. But underneath the dorkiness, she's unrelenting and determined to get to the bottom of the murders, even though it's costing her quite a bit to do so.
I loved Davey, Ruth's brother, who is suffering from PTSD and looking for a friend. I liked Ralph too, and the nutty and completely comical gang from the group and the hospital. But most of all, I adored Kippy's dad. He was cute and sweet and called Kippy pet names like Pimple and Chocolate Butt, and overprotective as he was, he just wanted the best for her.
There are terrific underlying messages about grief and the stages you go through afterward and the impact losing a child or a parent has on your life, that are the more serious aspects of the book. I must say there was one thing I wasn't too fond of. At one point, Kippy and Davey go undercover to a support group for violent people so that they can garner evidence. They go under the guise that he abuses her, and though I am certain the author didn't mean to make fun or light of domestic violence, it definitely comes across that way.
Despite this, the book takes a very surprising and dark turn toward the end that I did not see coming. I enjoyed it very much and am looking forward to seeing what else the author can come up with.