Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on June 7, 2016
Eighteen-year-old Jill Charron wakes up in a hospital room, leg in a cast, stitches in her face and a big blank canvas where the last six weeks should be. She discovers she was involved in a fatal car accident while on a school trip in Italy. A trip she doesn’t even remember taking. She was jetted home by her affluent father in order to receive quality care. Care that includes a lawyer. And a press team. Because maybe the accident…wasn’t an accident.
As the accident makes national headlines, Jill finds herself at the center of a murder investigation. It doesn’t help that the media is portraying her as a sociopath who killed her bubbly best friend, Simone, in a jealous rage. With the evidence mounting against her, there’s only one thing Jill knows for sure: She would never hurt Simone. But what really happened? Questioning who she can trust and what she’s capable of, Jill desperately tries to piece together the events of the past six weeks before she loses her thin hold on her once-perfect life.
In WITH MALICE, Jill Charron wakes up battered, broken and wanted for the murder of her best friend. The trouble is, she has a serious case of retrograde amnesia. I know what you’re thinking, amnesia? Isn’t that a little Days of Our Lives? In this case, no. Cook gives us an out—no one believes her. Not the Italian police, the media, the blogosphere, her friends, or even her parents.
But with our front-row seat into her bruised mind the reader gets to watch the unraveling of the mystery and of Jill’s life just as Jill does, through her pseudo memories, the news shows, blog posts and Internet comments, and police statements. Which of the pixelated points of view is the truth? One throw-away comment by her rehab roomie sets up the gut-punch of an ending.
Anyone who says “sticks and stones might break some bones, but words will never hurt you” has never been in my shoes. I’d prefer being beaten with rocks—it would hurt, but it would be nothing compared to the razor cuts of a million nasty words. People hated me. Not just a little, a lot. People who didn’t even know me. They’d never spoken a word to me, never seen me in the flesh, but based on a few pictures and a story, they’d made me into some kind of monster. They wrote in detail what kinds of thins should happen to my family. I rubbed my temples. Another headache was building.