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Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls


Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls

How do you think you would react if you found out someone long estranged, someone you once considered your closest friend, had just died? And furthermore, that they killed themselves? This is what happens to June, a quiet junior in high school who doesn’t come from the best home but always tries to be the best she can be. The friend in question is Delia, a girl known for her reckless partying and rampant substance abuse. However, once June discovers the method of her suicide --- burning herself alive in her stepfather’s shed --- and she remembers Delia’s intense fear of flames, June begins to question what really happened.

When Delia’s most recent boyfriend comes forward to tell June that he knows she’s been murdered, June sets out to find her friend’s killer --- and make up for their separation, which she never truly wanted in the first place. Interspersed with memories of their many years together, June begins to string the pieces together and discover that the truth is much uglier than she could have ever imagined --- and that it involves some of the people she thought she loved the most.

The plot of SUICIDE NOTES FROM BEAUTIFUL GIRLS is easily the strongest element, twisting and knotting, weaving like a beautiful, evocative, intricate tapestry. The story Weingarten tells is fascinating from start to finish --- it pulled me in without letting go for one second, and I loved it. I was deeply invested in unraveling the mystery, and with each new turn, I found myself falling deeper into the story. June was a delightfully colorful character, and I wanted to walk beside her as her story progressed, running when needed.

"June was a delightfully colorful character, and I wanted to walk beside her as her story progressed, running when needed."

Weingarten was particularly successful at balancing the main plot with minor conflicts and events, which doesn’t always happen in YA novels. For example, Weingarten established that June didn’t have a great home life. She incorporated this into the story development when necessary, but it was never overdone nor derailed the main plot. Also, June’s relationship with her boyfriend, Ryan, never distracted from the main conflict of the story. Another great element of SUICIDE NOTES FROM BEAUTIFUL GIRLS was the story’s pacing. Despite many things happening at once, it never moved too fast or overwhelmed me as a reader.

However, there were a few issues that I had with the novel. I got lost a handful of times because things were worded muddily, or the transitions between thoughts and sections within a chapter were clunky or unclear. Also, I felt I was occasionally told, rather than shown, who a character was. And though this didn’t bother me too much, there were many changes in point of view --- from different first person POVs to close thirds --- and while they were clearly demarcated, it happened quite, quite frequently and quickly.

Also, I was actually quite disappointed when it came to one character’s point of view (who I won’t disclose to protect from spoilers). I didn’t like her character or her choices…her inner voice just felt off. I have encountered many, shall we say, unhinged or less than salient characters, and have enjoyed their voices because of their edge or spice or the strange, unsavory ideas that they offer up. This character didn’t really have or do any of that --- she came across as a bit spacey, sometimes whiny, extremely deceptive and manipulating. Even though it’s clear that Weingarten intended to make her unlikeable, it doesn’t mean that it should be an excruciating chore to read through her thoughts, words and actions.

But with that aside, I found the book a good read; it’s very compelling and never dull. Weingarten crafted an impressively structured story that’s poignant and powerful at many points. Through June’s relatable mind and character, readers will be moved to consider questions of friendship and loyalty in their own lives; I walked away from this book wondering myself how far I would go to protect someone I loved. SUICIDE NOTES is a solid, thrilling novel, and I recommend it to anyone looking for a new fast-paced book to hook them from the first page. 

Reviewed by Corinne Fox on July 7, 2015

Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls
by Lynn Weingarten