Everything You Want Me to Be: A Novel

Everything You Want Me to Be: A Novel

by Mindy Mejia

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Overview

Everything You Want Me to Be: A Novel by Mindy Mejia

People’s Best New Books Pick * The Wall Street Journal’s Best New Mysteries * Bustle's Best Fiction Books

“Fans of Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl will devour this fast-paced story.”—InStyle

No one knows who she really is…

Hattie Hoffman has spent her whole life playing many parts: the good student, the good daughter, the good girlfriend. But Hattie wants something more, something bigger, and ultimately something that turns out to be exceedingly dangerous. When she’s found brutally stabbed to death, the tragedy rips right through the fabric of her small-town community.

It soon comes to light that Hattie was engaged in a highly compromising and potentially explosive secret online relationship. The question is: Did anyone else know? And to what lengths might they have gone to end it? Hattie’s boyfriend seems distraught over her death, but had he fallen so deeply in love with her that she had become an obsession? Or did Hattie’s impulsive, daredevil nature simply put her in the wrong place at the wrong time, leading her to a violent death at the hands of a stranger?

Evocative and razor-sharp, Everything You Want Me to Be challenges you to test the lines between innocence and culpability, identity and deception. Does love lead to self-discovery—or destruction?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501123436
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Publication date: 10/03/2017
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 80,934
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Mindy Mejia received her MFA from Hamline University. Her debut novel, The Dragon Keeper, was published by Ashland Creek Press in 2012. The granddaughter of Minnesota farmers, she lives in the Twin Cities with her husband and two children. She is the author of Everything You Want Me to Be.

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Everything You Want Me to Be includes discussion questions and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. Mindy Mejia grew up in Minnesota and knows its landscape well. How do her descriptions of the natural world and the change of seasons reflect the internal states of the characters?

2. Although the “curse of Macbeth” didn’t kill Hattie, as her classmate suggests early on, the play’s themes, such as the price of unchecked ambition and the difference between appearance and reality, do run throughout Mindy Mejia’s novel. How do the play’s themes resonate in the book?

3. Macbeth isn’t the only famous work woven into Everything You Want Me to Be. Hattie and Peter originally bond over Jane Eyre, which is similarly focused on hidden identities, deception, and unconventional women. How is Hattie similar to Jane? Do you think she has anything in common with Bertha Mason?

4. In what ways does Hattie move from an affinity with Jane at the beginning of the book to an affinity with Lady Macbeth at the end?

5. One of the book’s themes is identity and self-actualization. Compare and contrast Hattie and Mary in terms of the evolution of their identities and ambitions.

6. A taboo is something that is banned for reasons of morality or taste, or that which constitutes an unacceptable level of risk. One of the most significant relationships in the book is a taboo relationship. Discuss the typical reasons this type of relationship is considered transgressive and whether those reasons hold true here.

7. Hattie thinks of herself as more mature and sophisticated than her peers (and most adults in her hometown), but when and how is her naiveté revealed?

8. How is obsession portrayed throughout the novel? In particular, discuss the obsessions of the three narrators, Hattie, Peter, and Del.

9. Our three main characters each hold a certain kind of power, whether formally recognized, such as Del’s job, or simply understood, like Hattie’s popularity. Analyze what types of power each of them wields and where the power comes from. How do they use their power and influence in positive ways? In negative ways?

10. Describe each member of the Hoffman family. How are they similar? In what ways do their personalities diverge? How have Hattie’s conflicting personas, the good daughter and the rebel, been shaped by her family?

11. Discuss Mary and Peter’s relationship. How have their personalities, and not just their circumstances, led them to this rupture in their marriage?

12. Toward the end of the novel, Del meditates on the justice of Hattie’s case. “There was no time to think it through. No time to wonder about the morality of a man’s actions, whether he owed more to a friend or to the law and the country that depended on that law, no time to sift through the dozens of questions that would haunt me in the middle of the night for years to come . . . feeling like I had no right to wear a badge, that I had failed the institution I’d given my life to and not even knowing what that meant.” What roles do loyalty and duty play in Everything You Want Me to Be? How do they positively and negatively affect the characters?

13. If Hattie hadn’t been killed, what do you think her future would have been?

14. There are several suspects in Hattie’s murder, with a significant twist at the end. Were you shocked by who actually killed her and how it happened?

15. There are many sacrifices made in the name of love, whether familial love, romantic love, or love for an idea or goal. Which of the sacrifices do you think are truly made in the spirit of love, and which do the characters simply think are made in its name? Of the latter, what do you think the real motivating force is?

16. When Peter asks Hattie why she’s dating Tommy, she tells him it’s “just acting” (173). He recounts, “I took a step closer to myself, compelling beyond reason toward this girl who kept shedding masks like a matryoshka doll, each one more audacious than the last, a psychological striptease that racked me with the need to tear her apart until I found out who or what she was inside” (173). While most teenagers’ personalities fluctuate frequently, Hattie’s personas are more extreme, and certainly more destructive. Consider the title: did Hattie live up to its promise? Do you think anyone fully knew Hattie?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. Consider watching a live or filmed production of Macbeth with your book club. Discuss what parallels you see between the book’s main characters and the play’s. How does your viewing of the play enrich your understanding of the novel?

2. Read another mystery set in the Midwest, such as William Kent Krueger’s Iron Lake, and discuss how the personality of the Midwest is depicted in these novels. What about the people, landscape, and traditions seem to most intrigue Mindy Mejia and the other author who you’ve chosen?

3. To learn more about Mindy Mejia, read more about her other writings, and connect with her online, visit her official website at mindymejia.com.

Customer Reviews

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Everything You Want Me to Be 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written and suspenseful A few suspects with motive but only one with rage. The ripple effect of choices made.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A well written suspenseful read! Keeps you guessing until the end!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a picky reader and have a tough time finding books that I really like. This sounded like something I had already read but once finished, I can say it wasn't. Great ending ...kept me guessing til the end!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Such an incredible and terribly sad tale all at once. I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone! It was worth the tears I cried. This book reminded me of what it was like to be young and totally consumed by love, rejection, happiness, and fear.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed this book from beginning to end. The characters are relatable - full of flaws and making choices driven by emotion and desire. Very well done.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the development of the characters, especially Hattie How many of us played a different part depending on who we were with; especially as a teen
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed this book. It was a page turner. Kept me interested
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really awesome book here! Kept me guessing till the end, do yourself a favor and read it!
Anonymous 5 months ago
An interesting story that kept me guessing throughout. The plot held my interest;, the characters were realistic, and there was enough action that I didn't want to put it down. I enjoyed the book and would recommend it.
Meg-Clay More than 1 year ago
Loved it! Everything you want in a thriller. Very well written
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldnt put this book down. Just as soon as I thought I had it figured out, it turned again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting we've of lives and lies
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story and characters' telling of it draws you in and keeps you guessing.
juicedbooks More than 1 year ago
A medium-length murder mystery never hurt anyone, and this book is no exception. Hattie Hoffman is the high school senior that's been murdered, and we follow her and the town sheriff in the time before and after the violence. The main suspects are her boyfriend (of course), who she always seemed just a little too smart for, and her English teacher, who she was carrying on an affair with. This affair is the only plotline that really keeps the book from sinking into total cliche, and it's interesting and disturbing to explore the psyche of this teacher as the case goes on. In classic mystery fashion, every loose end is tied up, so you'll leave feeling satisfied, if not a little wistful that you didn't get a little something more from the meaning of this book.
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings Hattie Hoffman was a good girl and not the girl her family would have predicted would be found stabbed to death, so when the investigation starts into her murder they are blindsided by the truth left and right. With twists and turns that I predicted and came out of nowhere, I don't want to say too much about this one. It is in the middle of the pack in the who dun it genre, it didn't stand out of the pack, but I would definitely read another from this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Predictable but entertaining .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Aimal More than 1 year ago
Thrillers tend to go one of three ways for me; they’re either too predictable and fall flat, or they throw you curveball after curveball, leaving you disoriented, confused and so, indifferent. But then there are the thrillers that are perfectly balanced, where each tidbit of information is revealed at precisely the right moment, so that you’re never bored or left hanging for too long, but also can keep up with everything that’s going on. Everything You Want Me to Be fits into the third category. Mejia is extremely skilled at pacing her story. It’s not a simple tale; there are several subplots given the multiple perspectives: Hattie’s viewpoint showing flashbacks; Peter, the person she had an affair with, who is also her high school English teacher; and the detective who is on her case. But despite these several intricacies, they are balanced precariously, yet delicately. As aforementioned, every little piece of information, every facet of the characters’ personalities and their darker secrets is released at just the right moment; as a result, you’re constantly curious, and constantly engaged (I read the book in a day!) Many thrillers tend to rely on twists at the last moment, sudden changes in pacing and narrative that often fall flat and seem cheap; Mejia strays far from that trope. Everything You Want Me to Be is a dense psychological thriller driven by its characters. Each character is flawed and multi-faceted, forcing you to root for them, and sometimes wish for their downfall. Even Hattie; she’s unlikable, in many ways, given her penchant for manipulation and morphing her personality depending on who she is with (do you get the title now?) But despite this, you can’t help but feel for this also-relatable girl who feels stuck and unmotivated in a dreary, small-town life. There are two or three main suspects throughout the novel, but even they have both redeemable and damnable characteristics. The result is a complicated, interesting story that will stay with you long after you turn the last page. I touched upon the relationship in this novel before – Hattie’s having an affair with her English teacher, Peter. This is a disturbing trope that is often romanticized in books, but I would argue that this particular book doesn’t glamorize it, but rather shows you just how damaging and problematic these types of relationships are. You feel for Hattie; Peter is the only person she can relate to, but certain things she does raises questions. Peter is clearly more to blame in this scenario – he’s older, he’s in the position of authority, and he’s married, and you do despise him for this, but his inner push-and-pull and his otherwise deeply empathetic nature stops you from assigning him the villainous archetype. This is not a trope discussed a la Pretty Little Liars, where the relationship is long-lasting, romanticized and shown as hashtag-goals; Hattie and Peter are disturbing, and the controversy (if it can be called that) is dealt with sensitively, yet honestly. I had initially given the book a 4-star rating, but a good month has passed since I read it, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it. I remember clearly each and everything that came to pass; I still feel for the characters, I still am disturbed by the psychological nature of it, so I’m bumping it up to a 4 and a half star rating. It’s truly fascinating, and will keep you up late at night, immersed and unable to stop.
Twink More than 1 year ago
Everything You Want Me To Be is Mindy Mejia's second novel. Hattie Hoffman is in her last year of high school in a small town. She dreams of moving to New York and becoming the person she wants to be. Only Hattie knows who that is. You see, she changes herself to suit who she is with - family, friends, neighbours, boyfriend - and where she is - alone, school, home or on the stage. Hattie is the consummate actress. And it's going to get her killed...... "Fit the character to the play. You knew you were playing it right when your audience was happy." "I was a million different things depending on who I talked to or how I felt." The reader is told of Hattie's death in the first chapters. From there the timeline flips from past to present, told in three voices - Hattie's, Del - the local Sheriff tasked with finding her killer, and Peter, her high school English teacher. Hattie is a complicated character. I did like her drive and dreams. But on the other hand, how she tries to achieve them is at the expense of others and her manipulations left a sour taste in my mouth. But do we ever know who the real Hattie is? Peter - well, I have no words for him. He is shallow, weak and self deceptive. There are other characters that we only come to know through the interactions with the three main characters. Peter's wife Mary, without having a voice of her own, was the one character I was quite drawn to. Del, the Sheriff, is the other character who I sided with. Mejia's plot explores many different relationships and themes. Innocence, guilt, lust, love, deception and more. And at the heart of it all - who killed Hattie? I liked the slow pacing of the investigation as Del puzzles out the whodunit without the benefit of the reader's inside knowledge. And the final reveal wasn't who I expected. Everything You Want Me To Be was a different read, but quite good. I would pick up another book by Mejia.
Samantha1020 More than 1 year ago
What a way to end my reading year in 2016 with this book! I don't even know if I have the words to describe my reading experience with this one. It was just as intense as I had hoped it would be but I was surprised at how uncomfortable it made me at times. That sounds like it was a bad thing but it really wasn't. I just found book to be a more challenging read when it came to how I felt about the things that happened in this book. Not trying to be too vague but I also don't want to spoil anything for other readers. Let's just say that the author has quite the talent at blurring the lines so that I didn't always know what or how to feel about the characters and the decisions they were making. It was so completely intriguing but also there was this feeling of dread that was present throughout the entire book. As the reader, you just knew that everything wasn't going to end well by the end of the book. That feeling just builds page by page- by a certain point there was no way that I was not going to finish the book. It was just too good of a read! I feel like I heard a lot of hype surrounding this book early on and I do think that it is well deserved. This is one of those books that just pulls you in and doesn't let you go. Even when I didn't necessarily want to be reading it....well, I was thinking about it at least. It was the perfect page turner and I found myself unwilling to put it down. I loved that the story was told from multiple viewpoints. It gave me the chance to get to know Hattie more (which if you read the summary from above you know has been murdered) which was a bit unexpected. I loved that we got this chance to learn more about her because it really helped to explain and lead up to the ending. I won't say more than that. This isn't a book that you necessarily feel good about after finishing. There are too many dark and sad things that happen. But it makes you think about the choices we make and how those choices effect the rest of our lives. I honestly can't say enough good things about this book. It wasn't easy to read for me at times but I'm glad that I did. It came VERY close to ending up on my top ten reads list for 2016. It was a book that left me thinking about it for days afterwards. The characters get under you skin in a way that I can't fully explain. I'm just left very excited about this author as this is her debut novel I believe. Craziness! I can't wait for more and will be recommending this one to just about any reader. Highly recommended. Bottom Line: A stunning way to end my reading year! Disclosure: I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher.
feather_lashes More than 1 year ago
Everything You Want Me to Be didn't leave me with a jaw-drop, but it did leave me with the memory of a thoroughly engaging reading experience. I was hooked on this multiple POV storyline about Hattie, a literal drama queen who uses a small-town as her personal stage before and after her tragic end. The perspectives include Peter: Hattie's high school English teacher, Del: the sheriff investigating Hattie's death, and Hattie herself who takes readers from start to finish of her last year of life. I was expecting a cookie-cutter psychological thriller/mystery from yet another writer inspired by the fairly recent blockbusting successes, but I got a complex tale that geniously mirrors events and themes in the MacBeth play that Hattie and her peers were preparing for. I was slightly disappointed in who the actual culprit was but it was a well-written ending that allowed the reader full access to how everything went down. I really enjoyed Everything You Want Me to Be and would recommend it to fans of the genres listed. Check it out! My favorite quote: "The trouble with vows was that they were too damn generic. I'd stood in that church a block away from here and repeated, “For better or for worse,” imagining the worst to be Mary laid low with a cute, flu-like sickness requiring chicken soup and boxes of Kleenex. Maybe we'd lose our jobs. Maybe we'd have to deal with infertility. I'd projected every normal scenario into those vows, everything people told me to expect, but the minister never said, “You might move away from everyone and everything you love into a rundown farmhouse in the middle of a desolate prairie, where you won't have sex or even any conversation that doesn't revolve around the state of a dying woman who hates you.” No, he stood smiling in front of us and said, “For better or for worse.” Better or worse what? I'd agreed to adjectives. I'd happily squeezed Mary's hands and made vows with unknown placeholders for nouns. For someone who aspired to be an English professor, binding my life to someone else's with a game of Mad Libs suddenly seemed like a terrible joke." Note: I have seen this title listed under the genre of young-adult and would have to disagree with that. There is non-graphic sexual content and I personally feel the reading experience is intended for adults even though one of the main settings is high school.
Candace-LoveyDoveyBooks More than 1 year ago
Mindy Mejia's Everything You Want Me to Be is everything I love about mystery and more. The agonizing suspense and unique storytelling form a mystery unlike any that I have yet read. Hattie Hoffman had dreams of moving to New York and living the big life. The discovery of her body after the opening night of her high school play causes quite the stir in her small town, Pine Valley. The sheriff, a family friend of the Hoffmans, makes it a personal mission to find her killer and piece together what brought her to the end of her life. The story is told in alternating viewpoints of Hattie, Del Goodman the sheriff, and Hattie's English teacher Peter Lund. As the story unfolds connections are explored and motives seemingly written in black and white. Mindy Mejia cleverly holds the whole truth close until the last of Hattie's life is examined. Hattie forged connections with those around her by becoming what she thought they wanted her to be. I honestly thought she was a nut job because of the way she pretended with everyone, but she only took to extremes what plenty of us do everyday. Who hasn't pretended to have fun with a friend that really bored the snot out of them? She was a young girl learning to find herself in a sea of characters she'd created. Hattie wasn't the only character rich with human emotion or flaws. Del, Peter and other supporting characters fill this story with colorful personalities that provide depth to the novel. Everything You Want Me to Be is a fantastic read. Mindy Mejia's brilliant story is engaging, thought provoking and perfect for a weekend read! *ARC provided via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review* Originally posted on Lovey Dovey Books
SheTreadsSoftly More than 1 year ago
Everything You Want Me to Be by Mindy Mejia is a highly recommended murder mystery set in a small town. Hattie Hoffman is a high school senior in Pine Valley, Minnesota. She is a natural actress and has spent her whole life playing the part others wanted her to play - good daughter, brave sister, supportive friend, good student. When she is found stabbed to death in an abandoned barn after the opening night of her high school play, local Sheriff Del Goodman must try to figure out who would want Hattie dead. His investigation is complicated by the fact that he is a good friend of the family and it is set in a very small town. Mejia tells the story of the investigation and the events over the past school year that have led up to Hattie's murder through the point of view of three narrators: Sheriff Del Goodman, Hattie, and Peter Lund, a high school teacher in an unhappy marriage. Goodman's chapters are set after the murder as he tries to unravel the story of why Hattie was murdered to solve the case. I liked Del Goodman throughout the whole novel, but became tired of Hattie and Peter. Hattie is a skilled manipulator who managed to play everyone around her, while Peter just became too weak and whiny to elicit any sympathy or support from me. Even with that said, Mejia managed to keep me interested in the investigation and I was surprised by the final resolution. It is a compelling novel and you will find it engaging beginning to end. The quality of the writing sets what could be considered a standard mystery novel a step higher. This is a character driven novel and Mejia does an excellent job presenting her characters, flaws and all. The case is solved incrementally by Del as the other chapters go through the events of the past school year in the point of view of Hattie and Peter. There is a surprising twist at the end. Disclosure: My advanced reading copy was courtesy of Atria/Emily Bestler Books.