Review: Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarten
December 18, 2015
Then, “Hmm. What did I just read?”
These were my initial reactions upon finishing Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls in less than 24 hours.
June and Delia were best friends. Beyond best friends, actually. They were soul mates. With both girls coming from homes without strong, supportive parental units, they relied solely upon themselves and upon each other to get through the days and nights. June loved Delia for her reckless wildness that sometimes brought out the wild side of the otherwise sweet, meek June. Then, something weird happened one night between June, Delia, and Ryan, June’s boyfriend. After that night, the girls drifted apart and went their separate ways.
It has been just over a year since they last saw each other when June hears an announcement at her high school that nearly mows her down: Delia has committed suicide. Worse yet, Delia tried calling June the day she died, and even left a voicemail, but June never returned the call. June grapples with guilt and grief, finally deciding to listen to the voicemail Delia left. It seems like a simple message at first, until June hears Delia whispering to someone in the background that she knows what they’ve done and she will tell – before the message cuts out. Did Delia really commit suicide or was she murdered?
The tale that follows will leave your head spinning! After an encounter with a guy that Delia had been dating at the time of her death, June is even more convinced that something shady happened the day Delia died, and she takes it upon herself to investigate, much to Ryan’s chagrin. He’s hiding something. And so is Delia’s boyfriend. In fact, June’s not sure what’s going on or who to believe. Then, something truly shocking happens that leaves the reader hurtling and somersaulting through the last half of book, right up to the very last page.
Dark and twisting, Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarten is full of mystery, lies, conspiracies, and sick head games. Through the first half of the book, I was hooked. I love a good mystery, and I love when girls in YA aren’t always so good. The narration switches between first person present-tense POV and third-person past-tense POV, with the latter giving you deeper insight to Delia and June’s friendship, prior to Delia’s death. I kept shifting from loving to hating Delia. She was clearly dealing with severe mental and emotional issues, and was a shiny, unavoidable lure for naïve, passive June. Neither girl has the best home life, and their “opposites attract” personalities made just the right concoction for a disturbingly dependent relationship to develop between the two.
The first half of the book was well done, overall. My real issue with Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls comes in at about the halfway point, where the scene shifts so suddenly, it’s like you’re reading a completely different book. In fact, a whole different case of characters comes into play, and a few of the former characters are barely mentioned again! Circumstances, though dramatic and dangerous, become so unrealistic that they were almost laughable. I don’t want to give too much away, as this book is only half a year old at the time of this writing, but examples would include Twilight-esque living quarters (i.e., over-the-top opulent) filled with disturbed, hot-headed teenagers who have both culinary and computer skills to rival the gods. And mind you, these teens are not vampires or otherwise unworldly beings. No, they’re just ”normal” teenagers doing very abnormal things.
These teens faced no consequences for their increasingly disturbed behavior. Adult involvement was basically nil throughout the entire book. I felt certain things like rape and suicide were a bit glorified, or on the border of being such. I was also disappointed in the lack of characterization of June, especially in the last half of the book. She flipped back and forth from being mind-numbingly naïve to surprisingly brash and brave, with no justification for the switch. She didn’t actually grow throughout the story, or have some sudden revelation. She simply simpered around Delia and failed to think for herself.
Having read a few other reviews about the ending, you’ll either love it or hate it. It depends on whether or not you like ambiguity. I have mixed feelings about the ending. It did end rather abruptly for me, more akin to slamming into a brick wall. However, after thinking on the ending some more, and what it could possibly imply, it was certainly not badly done; just abrupt and maybe a touch arbitrary.
Overall, I read this book in no time at all, as it was fast-paced and certainly a page-turner. I guessed a few of the twists, but admit to being surprised at others, even given my love for crime thrillers and mysteries. Be aware, though, dear reader, that this book is dark and depressing, and there’s not much about the characters you’ll like. It’s the mystery that will keep you turning the pages, and only you can decide what really happens in the end. If there is an end at all.