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.
In Cartwheel, duBois delivers a novel of propulsive psychological suspense and rare moral nuance. No two readers will agree who Lily is and what happened to her roommate. Cartwheel will keep you guessing until the final page, and its questions about how well we really know ourselves will linger well beyond.
A pick for The Millions' Most Anticipated Books of 2013
©2013 Jennifer duBois (P)2013 Random House Audio
"An astonishing, breathtaking, and harrowing read." (New York Journal of Books)
"[DuBois] does an excellent job of creating and maintaining a pervasive feeling of foreboding and suspense.... An acute psychological study of character that rises to the level of the philosophical.... Cartwheel is very much its own individual work of the author's creative imagination." (Booklist)
"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 best-selling author of Seating Arrangements)
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this book. Even though it was loosely based on Amanda Knox' story, this book focused more on the impact of the situation on the family and how we tend to judge people based on what we hear, whether it's true or not. The author's note at the end is important to listen to as well. The narrator provided excellent voices for each character & helped develop the story.
This novel sadly fizzled and by the end, I completely checked out and I did not care. I have no problem with characters and stories that stay within the shades of grey; however, I do have a problem with poor character development that leaves the reader utterly indifferent.
I found myself profoundly ambivalent about this novel. On the one hand I love the quality of the writing, the vocabulary and the depth of sensitivity demonstrated by the author. On the other hand I found the somewhat relentless dark side of our humanity to weigh on me and I wish there was someone I could really like in the novel.
I read this book in part out of interest in the subject matter, and in part because it was set in one of my favorite cities. After reading, I was surprised to learn that the author had even been to Buenos Aires. Rather, she throws out names of streets and locations, or cultural or political issues, totally out of context. It's as though she was given a list of hot topics in Argentina and tried to force them into the book without learning what they meant.
For example, there's a scene where Maureen gives a taxi driver a 20 peso note, and Andrew is certain that the wads of bills she will receive for change will contain counterfeits. First, 20 pesos is worth about $2-4 US, depending on the ever fluctuating exchange rate, and she wouldn't be getting change in bills, if any change at all, because taxi rides are more expensive than that. Also, bills that small aren't forged. This is beyond nit-picky, but it matters because it was a series of false comments on the city geared to paint it in a negative light.
I don't suppose this would bother many people other than me, and if her description of the city weren't so critical it wouldn't bother me as much. But I feel that she maligns and misrepresents a wonderful city because she did not take the opportunity to learn about it.
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