My rating: 5 of 5 stars
What an exquisite piece of work! To call this astounding novel a noir murder-mystery with a cast comprised of high school cheerleaders and their coach would be, I think, unfairly reductive for a work so complex, and yet that description is exactly what beats at its heart. As our narrator Addy tries to figure out who might be lying to her about another character’s death, Abbott does a masterful job of making the reader’s allegiances switch over and over again between the two most important people in her life: her best friend Beth, who is vindictive and jealous in the extreme, and her new cheer coach, Colette, who is fostering an inappropriately close-knit and potentially dangerous friendship with Addy. Addy herself is a “mean girl” and not always easy to like, but Abbott never lets the reader’s empathy for her slip.
Every once in a while, a book comes along that I wish I had written. This is one of them. And yet, the world it explores is one so alien to my own experience that I never could have. But that’s just another sign of Abbott’s strength as an author. I was never a teenage girl and I was never a cheerleader, but I was right there with them every step of the way. The novel never lost me for a second. If the rest of Abbott’s novels are as good as this one, she’s made a reader for life.