Cartwheel: A Novel

Cartwheel: A Novel

3.1 9
by Jennifer duBois

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Written with the riveting storytelling of authors like Emma Donoghue, Adam Johnson, Ann Patchett, and Curtis Sittenfeld, Cartwheel is a suspenseful and haunting novel of an…  See more details below


Slate • Cosmopolitan • Salon • BuzzFeed • BookPage

Written with the riveting storytelling 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.

WINNER OF THE HOUSATONIC BOOK AWARD • Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more.

“A smart, literary thriller [for] fans of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl.”The Huffington Post
“Psychologically astute . . . DuBois hits [the] larger sadness just right and dispenses with all the salacious details you can readily find elsewhere. . . . The writing in Cartwheel is a pleasure—electric, fine-tuned, intelligent, conflicted. The novel is engrossing, and its portraiture hits delightfully and necessarily close to home.”The New York Times Book Review (Editor’s Choice)
“Marvelous . . . a gripping tale . . . Every sentence crackles with wit and vision. Every page casts a spell.”—Maggie Shipstead, author of Seating Arrangements

“[You’ll] break your own record of pages read per minute as you tear through this book.”Marie Claire
“A convincing, compelling tale . . . The story plays out in all its well-told complexity.”—New York Daily News

“[A] gripping, gorgeously written novel . . . The emotional intelligence in Cartwheel is so sharp it’s almost ruthless—a tabloid tragedy elevated to high art. [Grade:] A-”—Entertainment Weekly
“Sure-footed and psychologically calibrated . . . Reviewers of duBois’s first novel, A Partial History of Lost Causes, called it brainy and beautiful, a verdict that fits this successor. . . . As the pages fly, the reader hardly notices that duBois has stretched the genre of the criminal procedural.”Newsday

“The power of Cartwheel resides in duBois’ talent for understanding how the foreign world can illuminate the most deeply held secrets we keep from others, and ourselves.”Chicago Tribune

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews

For American student Lily Hayes, her semester abroad in Buenos Aires began as an idyllic experience. The bustling city; the street culture; the friendly, even exotic young Argentineans she met. Only five weeks into her stay, that glow suddenly disappeared when her roommate Katy is found brutally murdered and Lily is pegged as the number one suspect. From that point, Jennifer Dubois's Cartwheel becomes a hall of mirrors in which everything we see and know about Lily is refracted, depending on the viewer's stance. (P.S. This sophomore novel by the author of the PEN/Hemingway finalist A Partial History of Lost Causes subtly echoes details of the Italian judicial travails of Amanda Knox.)

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Cartwheel 3.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
BasingstoneBook More than 1 year ago
I have concluded that my book selection swayed by the PR was totally wrong. This is not the type of novel that I enjoy or even find interesting. Having read other reviews now I would still have made the same mistake. Jennifer DuBois must be very pleased with the feedback from readers but unfortunately I am not one of them. This book mysteriously forced me through to its end, whilst just giving me crumbs of hope that it may just turn the corner, and provide some excitement and entertainment. Cartwheel was an odd name for this book and until this was explained, you could be forgiven for linking to the speed of an old wooden cart. The writing style may suit a lot of people who scan and don't actually read all the words, as it is crowded with a great excess of text that perhaps adds only a little to characters and atmosphere, but nothing for the overall story - it could have forty percent shorter and would have moved along more quickly. Other reviewers have suggested Cartwheel is based on, or inspired by the Amanda Knox story, to me that sounds about right, as here we are several years on and we still don't know for sure who killed the victim. The characters painted by the author were all very troubled, in particular Sebastian who was a great irritation whilst reading, his language forcing you to stop and ponder what was actually said. This character could have been easily used to spice up the plot creating some exciting diversions for the reader. If like me you like a fast paced exciting thriller my recommendation is give this a pass.
nfmgirl More than 1 year ago
Lily is a student in Argentina for a semester. She is enamored with the culture, but feels unwelcome and uncomfortable in her host home, and her roommate Katy is a bit of a drag. She becomes friendly with the odd, isolated young neighbor next door. Sebastian, a wealthy diplomat's son, lost his parents when he was a teenager and now lives the life of a hermit, rarely leaving his neglected, dark and depressing mansion of sorts. Several weeks later, Katy is found brutally murdered, and Lily is the prime suspect arrested in her murder. The author clarifies that, while inspired by Amanda Knox, this story is entirely fictional. This book alternates viewpoints, so one minute Lily seems to be a self-absorbed and thoughtless brat, and the next when you see it through her own eyes you think maybe she is those things, but also just a little misunderstood. Sebastian is a very odd character that I just couldn't understand. Whether I was seeing him through his own eyes or those of someone else, I was totally confused over what is motivation was for his bizarre behavior. Katy is a rather studious and serious girl. She's thoughtful and self-aware. She's something of the antithesis of Lily. Her death is shocking to everyone. While Lily might go to nightclubs and worked at a local restaurant, Katy was quiet and seemed to always have her nose in a book. She is the last person you would expect to find murdered. This book unfurls like a Dateline murder mystery, piece by piece, first one view then another. You lean this way with one person’s view, and then another person’s view of the exact same event has you feeling totally different about it all. There really is a Gone Girl aspect to this book. My final word: This was my first Jennifer duBois novel, and I would definitely read her again. Everything in this story is interwoven. One thing mentioned at one point will be addressed again later from a different perspective, and you think “Oh” in wonder as you realize your initial assessment is all wrong. It had great suspense. With only 70 pages left in the story, I still wasn’t sure “whodunit”. It definitely has a Gone Girl feel to it. However, unlike in Gone Girl, where the characters were so unlikable I just wanted to finish it to get away from them, with this novel, I wanted to reach the end to find out what happened! Peculiar, uncustomary and provocative, I've gotta recommend this one!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was disappointed by this book. I kept waiting for it to get original in any substantial way but it never did. With the exception of very few minor details, this was essentially a re telling of Amanda Knox's story. Highly unoriginal on the part of the author.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Too many questions are left unanswered which made this less than satisfying to read.
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings  At this point in time, 99% of the world has heard about the Amanda Knox case and trial - the student studying abroad who finds her roommate has been murdered.  Cartwheel is a fictional tale based on some of the facts from this case and hearing a fictional tale about this major news story was very interesting. Lilly is studying abroad in Buenos Aires and just 5 weeks in, her roommate is brutally murdered and from the beginning the focus is on her.  Told through the eyes of her family, the prosecution and her before the incident, this book takes you through the befores and afters of the crime.  I absolutely adored hearing the build up of Lilly and Katy's relationship, but I didn't quite love the parts from Eduardo the prosecutor.  His abnormally large words and language felt out of character and I felt like his personal life was awkwardly used to affect his views of the case.  The other characters and parts greatly outdid his.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Such creative suspense