Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Cartwheel: A Novel by Jennifer duBois

(Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

Written with the riveting storytelling and moral seriousness of authors like Emma Donoghue, Adam Johnson, Ann Patchett, and Curtis Sittenfeld, Cartwheel is a suspenseful and haunting novel of an American foreign exchange student arrested for murder, and a father trying to hold his family together.

When Lily Hayes arrives in Buenos Aires for her semester abroad, she is enchanted by everything she encounters: the colorful buildings, the street food, the handsome, elusive man next door. Her studious roommate Katy is a bit of a bore, but Lily didn’t come to Argentina to hang out with other Americans.

Five weeks later, Katy is found brutally murdered in their shared home, and Lily is the prime suspect. But who is Lily Hayes? It depends on who’s asking. As the case takes shape—revealing deceptions, secrets, and suspicious DNA—Lily appears alternately sinister and guileless through the eyes of those around her: the media, her family, the man who loves her and the man who seeks her conviction. With mordant wit and keen emotional insight, Cartwheel offers a prismatic investigation of the ways we decide what to see—and to believe—in one another and ourselves.

my thoughts:

Amanda Knox.  That is who springs to mind when I think about duBois' novel, Cartwheel.  Its pretty obvious she was inspired by Knox's story and I can dig that - after all, who wasn't captivated by the story of a young American woman studying abroad in Italy accused of murdering her roommate?  So, I had my ideas of how duBois' story would play out and it pretty much fit the bill, except for a few surprises.  I must admit that I had expected to be captivated by the book and even though I knew it was fiction, I felt like it would be an interesting exploration into Knox's mind (via Lily, the protagonist of the story).  Anyhow, I was sorely disappointed and found myself rather bored as I read the book.  I actually had to read it in bits and bobs just to get through it.  I just really disliked the characters, found the whole story to read like a badly written Lifetime movie, and couldn't help but find the whole story to be rather dull.  I would skim the pages and skip passages, because I got annoyed by the character's internal musings.  And, I just didn't care for the cold, detached tone of the characters - they just seem so disconnected to the events happening to them and it frustrated me.  I understand that duBois was exploring the psychological ramifications of how something this horrible could affect the people involved, but for some reason the book just didn't jive with me. Plus, I really do think my own opinions regarding the Amanda Knox case influenced my dislike of this book - I tried to remember it was a novel, but I couldn't help but think of the reality it was based on.  Oh well.

Now, I know I'm probably going to be the only one who feels this way about the book, because I've already read some of the blurbs about Cartwheel and they laud it like there is no tomorrow.  Maybe I did miss something, or maybe this book just wasn't for me.  Either way, I'm going to suggest you check it out for yourself - who knows, you may wind up riveted and declare this book a must-read. So, to be fair, here are the blurbs I mentioned:

“Jennifer duBois, a writer whose fierce intelligence is matched only by her deep humanity, hits us with a marvelous second novel that intertwines a gripping tale of murder abroad with an intimate story of family heartbreak. Every sentence crackles with wit and vision. Every page casts a spell.”—Maggie Shipstead, New York Times bestselling author of Seating Arrangements

Cartwheel is so gripping, so fantastically evocative, that I could not, would not, put it down. Jennifer duBois is a writer of thrilling psychological precision. She dares to pause a moment, digging into the mess of crime and accusation, culture and personality, the known and unknown, and coming up with a sensational novel of profound depth.”—Justin Torres, New York Times bestselling author of We the Animals

“Jennifer duBois’s Cartwheel seized my attention and held it in a white-knuckled grip until I found myself reluctantly and compulsively turning its final pages very late at night. It’s an addictive book that made me miss train stops and wouldn’t let me go to sleep until I’d read just one more chapter. And it’s so much more than just a ravenous page-turner—it’s a rumination on the bloodthirsty rubbernecking of the twenty-four-hour news cycle and the bewitching powers of social media, and a scalpel-sharp dissection of innocence abroad, a book charged with a refreshing anger, but always empathic. Jennifer duBois has captured the sleazy leer of lurid crime and somehow twisted it into a work of art.”—Benjamin Hale, author of The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore

And now I'm off to read something fun.  Ta for now and Happy Reading!!

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book via NetGalley.


Greg Zimmerman said...

Sorry to hear you were disappointed. This is one of the autumn novels I'm most excited about - really enjoyed A Partial History of Lost Causes!

Susan said...

Bummer that this one didn't thrill you. I'm pretty excited for it. It sounds fascinating, but who knows? It could be a total dud for me, too. Different strokes for different folks.

Nadia said...

Greg, I hope you enjoy this book more than I did. I've never read duBois' first novel, but I may just give it a go. I'll check out your review of Cartwheel when its up :)

Susan, I totally agree! We can't all love the same books, right? Hope you enjoy this one ;)