When Wendy Geller’s body is found in Central Park after the night of a rager, newspaper headlines scream,”Death in the Park: Party Girl Found Strangled.” But shy Rain, once Wendy’s best friend, knows there was more to Wendy than just “party girl.” As she struggles to separate the friend she knew from the tangle of gossip and headlines, Rain becomes determined to discover the truth about the murder. Written in a voice at once immediate, riveting, and utterly convincing, Mariah Frederick’s mystery brilliantly exposes the cracks in this exclusive New York City world and the teenagers that move within it.
This month our book club read a mystery set in the rarified world of an upper-crust Manhattan private school. With a unique, quiet protagonist named Rain, “The Girl in the Park” is not your usual prep-school soap opera. Oh, there’s plenty of cattiness and class issues — even a dangerously handsome scholarship kid and an attractive young English teacher — but Mariah Fredericks makes it so much more than a poor little rich kids plot. It’s a story of grief and loss and how we may never really know everything about even our closest friends. Thanks to Random House, we are giving away FIVE copies of the book to lucky readers. All you have to do is leave a comment and fill out the nifty Rafflecopter form at the bottom of our reviews.
“Young” Reader Average: B+
Kristen graded the book an A+
Usually I hate mystery novels, but this one was really gripping. I didn’t relate to Rain or Wendy, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t feel for what they were each going through. Being the new kid at any school is tough, but especially somewhere everyone is so rich and snooty about where people grew up (I had no idea Long Island and Queens were considered embarrassing by Manhattan kids).
I thought it was really clever of the author to make the central character someone who was so shy and had her own “scars” and could somehow observe everything with an introverted, determined eye. At first I, like her, kept thinking the killer was one person or another but then it was really obvious who the killer was, but it was still cool to see Rain figure everything out. At one point, it almost seemed like the movie “Skulls,” where the secret society is a sign of evil not greatness.
Lily graded the book a B-
When Rain hears that her former best friend Wendy’s body has been recovered in Central Park, she is shocked. Nobody can figure out who killed her, or why, so Rain decides to do some investigation of her own. As she makes leaps and bounds in overcoming her shyness, Rain discovers some shocking secrets about Wendy’s death.
I thought this book was OK. I enjoyed it up until the part where the killer is revealed (and it was really obvious). But then there was a very unrealistic confrontation scene, which ruined the whole thing for me.
“Adult” Reader Average: B
Cara graded the book an A-
When her former best friend, Wendy, is found murdered in Central Park, Rain starts looking for possible suspects among her fellow students at an elite New York City prep school.
Rain was a compelling protagonist. We’ve all felt different at one point or another and I felt enormous empathy towards her because of her condition. While I often felt she was careless in her behavior, it was believable for someone of her age and experience. I enjoyed discovering more about Wendy through Rain’s memories, revealing more of their friendship and Wendy’s past as the book progressed. I figured out the killer fairly early in the story, but it was an enjoyable read and kept me entertained through to the end.
Jenn graded the book a B-
“The Girl in the Park” by Mariah Fredericks begins the morning after a high school party. Our protagonist Rain Donovan is distraught to learn that her former best friend’s body has been discovered in Central Park. Soon we learn that Wendy Geller’s penchant for chasing other girls’ boyfriends hadn’t earned her many friends at the prestigious prep school they attended. There are numerous people who were glad to see Wendy gone, and Rain makes it her top priority to find out who killed her.
Wendy was obviously a complicated person, and I thought Fredericks did an excellent job showing that complexity through Rain’s memories of her. She may have been a party girl, but she was also a kind person who simply wanted to be loved. I really liked that Rain was able to see both sides of Wendy’s personality and love her for what she was.
I thought a few of the clues revealed early on were a bit too obvious. I guessed the killer about halfway through the novel, but the story was still engaging enough to keep me reading until the end. I also thought the story was wrapped up a little too simply and not quite realistically.
Overall, I thought this was a decent mystery. I loved reading books like this when I was a teen, so it made me feel a little nostalgic for those novels. It was interesting to read the story unfold and slightly horrifying to see the dark side of human nature.
Taylor graded the book a B
It seemed like a very interesting book to me, and Geller followed through on the mystery aspect. I also think she painted a very accurate portrait of [privileged] kids in high school – girls can be so unnecessarily mean, kids are secretive and clique-ish, and any individuality or abnormality puts you at risk for being ostracized. For me, though, the book was too easy. I figured out who the killer was very early on, and was just sort of waiting for the main character to get there. And parts of the book were slow…but Geller made up for that with the way she interspersed past memories of a friendship with the present realities of dealing with death.
I know this book isn’t aimed at my demographic, so I’m not terribly concerned that it was easy to deduce the whodunnit aspect. The rest of the book was well written, with fun characters. Overall, I think it was an enjoyable read.
Diana graded the book a B
“The Girl in the Park” by Mariah Fredericks was an enjoyable read. Since it is a mystery/whodunnit book, I was reminded of the many Nancy Drew books I read in elementary school. While Nancy never dealt with murders, our protagonist Rain wanted to discover what really happened to her friend Wendy. The setting of the book was a private school for the kids of the rich and famous of New York City. Fredericks did an interesting job in portraying what a school like that might really be like.
While it was easy to figure out “whodunnit”, it was interesting to see how Rain would get there. Fredericks also included some important life lessons for teens such as not judging people and understanding that there is more to people than meets the eye. Although there were some subplots and characters that could’ve used more “fleshing out”, it was overall a good book.
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