In a starred review, Publishers Weekly called this YA mystery a "haunting psycological thriller" and "profound, provocative commentary on what it means to grow up in the age of Facebook."
When Wendy Geller's body is found in Central Park after the night of a rager, newspaper headlines scream,"Death in the Park: Party Girl Found Strangled." But shy Rain, once Wendy's best friend, knows there was more to Wendy than just "party girl." As she struggles to separate the friend she knew from the tangle of gossip and headlines, Rain becomes determined to discover the truth about the murder. Written in a voice at once immediate, riveting, and utterly convincing, Mariah Frederick's mystery brilliantly exposes the cracks in this exclusive New York City world and the teenagers that move within it.
About the Author
MARIAH FREDERICKS is the author of the bestselling novel The True Meaning of Cleavage, which Meg Cabot called "laugh-out-loud funny and way twisted!" She is also the author of Head Games, Crunch Time, and the In the Cards series.
Read an Excerpt
In my dream, everyone talks except me. It’s a party, and I’m surrounded by voices. I listen. I smile. I nod. No one is actually speaking to me. But stillI want to pretend I’m a part of it.
Faces spin by in a blur. More people now, and still more. They laugh, tease, point fingers. Their talk becomes a meteor shower of sound, the words coming too fast and hard to understand.
And maybe because I am silent, I’m the one who sees her. Wendy. She’s standing in a wide-open window. The city stretches vast and dark behind her. Her toes are poised on the sill, her fingertips just reach the edges. There is nothing to hold her as she stares into the crowded room.
All of a sudden, she wobbles. Her fingers lose their hold. Now it’s all balance. Her arms flail, a foot rises. I am too far away, I can’t reach her in time.
Stop! I yell. But it comes out an ugly blurted Op! People glance over, embarrassed, go back to their talk.
She’s falling! This is She alling! Someone giggles. Another girl tries to hide her smile.
Desperate, I scream, Someone help her! Thomeone elper!
Now the laughter starts. As everyone swings toward me, pointing and snickering, Wendy falls, but no one sees. I howl, No, no! as I feel my heart fall with her.
And someone’s knocking at the door.
I open my eyes, see my mom standing by my bed. Still dazed from the dream, I take in my purple quilt covered in stars, Sullivan the blue whale perched at the foot of my bed, the postcard mosaic on the opposite wall. Faces, because I like faces. Greta Garbo. Edith Piaf. Lucy from Peanuts.
I struggle up, croak, “Hey, Mom.”
“Rain, honey, I’m sorry to wake you.”
I look at the clock. 7:16. We’re visiting my grandmother today, but even so, this is way, way early for Sunday morning. Particularly when I’ve been to a party the night before. Which my mother knows. So what gives?
Blinking, I say, “It’s fine. What’s up?”
“Ms. Geller’s on the phone. She’s looking for Wendy.”
My mom looks at me. What is this?
I look back. I have no idea.
As we walk down the hall, my mom asks, “Was Wendy at the party last night?”
Wendy doesn’t miss parties. “Yeah, she was there.”
“I didn’t know she was still a close friend.”
I make a face like, I didn’t either.
Now we’re at the kitchen. I pick up the phone. “Hi, Ms. Geller.”
“Rain? I’m so sorry to call this early.” She’s talking fast, a little too loud. Scared, I think, but trying not to be.
“No problem at all. What can I do?”
“Well . . .” Big sigh, ends on a shaky laugh. Everything’s okay! “Wendy did not come home last night.”
Faces start flashing in my head. Snatches of conversation. Wendy surrounded by people, laughingshe’s always laughing.
I hear Ms. Geller say, “And, uh, I’m just hoping there’s a very rational explanation.” Again, the weird shaky laugh.
“Oh, absolutely,” I say.
“You were at Karina Burroughs’s party last night, right?”
“Yes. Wendy was there. I definitely saw her.”
“Was she . . . How do I ask this? Was she okay?”
Wendy using two hands to lift a gallon of vodka, sloshing it over a line of plastic cups. Party time!
“Um, it was a party. But when I saw her, she was fine.”
“When did you last see her? Can you remember?”
“I left early,” I apologize. “Before midnight. So probably I saw her at . . .”
Hey, Nico . . .
“Eleven? Eleven-thirty?” I say.
“And she was okay?”
I make agony eyes at my mom, and she squeezes my hand.
“She had had some alcohol,” I say carefully. “But she wasn’t over the edge or anything.”
“Anyone she was with? A boy?”
Come be with me, Nico.
I hate this. I don’t want to tell this woman things she doesn’t want to know. “She has lots of friends, Ms. Geller. Everybody likes Wendy.”
Even as I say this, I wonder why I’m saying it. Because it’s not true.
I finish lamely, “I’m sure she’s fine.”
“But there’s no one you can remember she might have stayed with?”
“Did you try Karina? Or Jenny Zalgat?”
“Oh, yes.” Ms. Geller’s voice turns chilly. “They couldn’t be bothered to come to the phone.”
Hung over, I think. Or protecting Wendy. Noprotecting themselves.
I hesitate. There is one other name I could give Ms. Geller.
I blurt out, “Nico Phelps. You could call him.”
“Nico Phelps.” A pause. She’s writing it down. “You don’t have his number?”
“No, I’m sorry.”
“Okay.” Deep breath. “Okay. Thank you. This is”
“You truly don’t need to thank me, Ms. Geller. I bet Wendy calls the second you hang up.”
“Probably.” She almost laughs this time, then says, “Actually, that’s another thing.”
“I’ve tried calling her cell phone. There’s no answer.”
Wendy checking her cell, chucking it back in her bag. Somebody’s playing mommy again. As if she gives a crap.
“Sounds like she’s feeling a little defiant,” I joke.
“I hope,” says Ms. Geller. “I mean, that that’s . . .”
She stops herself. “Anyway, sweetie, thank you. When this is over, I want you to come to dinner. We’d love to see you. It’s been so long.”
“Yeah, same. And”
“Let me know. When it all works out.”
“I will.” And she hangs up.
What People are Saying About This
Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, February 20, 2012:
“Rain’s voice provides an authentic portrait of grief and powerlessness, while Fredericks (Crunch Time) offers profound, provocative commentary on what it means to grow up in the age of Facebook.”
Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2012:
"[B]oth Rain and Wendy emerge as fully rounded, flawed characters that teens will recognize and connect with. A satisfying whodunit with enough clues and red herrings to keep mystery fans happy."
Booklist, April 1, 2012:
"Fredericks has constructed a taut, suspenseful mystery with convincing characters whose actions and motives propel the plot. Rain is an unusual, compelling protagonist, a watcher who must step reluctantly out of her comfort zone. Observant readers...will find as much satisfaction in observing Rain’s personal growth as in the solving of the intriguing mystery."
School Library Journal, May 2012:
"The story starts off slowly, gradually building to a surprise ending. Rather than a heavy-handed explanation of Rain’s cleft palate, details are sprinkled throughout the story, building readers’ understanding of her communication difficulties and readers’ compassion for her."
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, May 2012:
"The mystery unravels amidst a sensitive exploration of Rain’s coming to terms with her own quiet, demure personality, with its flaws and its advantages measured against Wendy’s extroversion and desire for recognition and love. The crime itself offers up multiple suspects before a triumphant resolution tinged with melancholy, a conclusion that highlights the fact that while growth is certainly possible, some people, unfortunately, never make it past the slights of high school."
VOYA, February 2012:
"As in her previous novels, Fredericks paints a perceptive picture of teens and their struggles with social pressures. Rain is an interesting protagonist to follow as she tries to overcome her own issues in order to defend her friend who can no longer speak for herself. Fredericks creates believable adult characters as well, which is too often not the case in teen novels. The very real mystery of the story is a riveting background for Rain’s self-struggle, and the plot twists make this a true page-turner. This book will find a ready audience in fans of Sarah Dessen and Deb Caletti who are looking for something a bit edgier."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I'm only two-thirds of the way through, so did not read the first review because of the possible spoilers. So far, I love the character Rain. She's one of the most unique characters I've encountered in YA books. I can feel her speaking problem as if it were my own. ... Must go now to find out who did it.
I really liked The Girl in the Park. I think I was initially expecting something lighter and more just a story about a girl coming to terms with what happened to an old friend, but it is very much deeper than that. This novel grabs you and doesn't let go until you find out what happened. I really love how raw and real this novel was. The characters don't feel phony and you are really figuring everything out with Rain instead of being one step ahead of her. This novel has a lot of feeling to it and I think if you are looking for something real and different then you will like this novel.
This book was intense, and had a more bittersweet ending than my usual preferred happy one, but I really liked it in the end. It explores friendship and belonging, betrayal and murder, all in the setting of an exclusive high school in New York City. Rain and Wendy, both on the fringes of the popular crowd at school, used to be friends--once. Times have changed, though, and they've turned into the kind of acquaintances who might only exchange a few words at a party or in the halls at school. The morning after one of those parties, Wendy is discovered in Central Park, murdered. Rain, for reasons even she isn't clear about for much of the book, feels compelled to uncover the truth of her murder. Mariah Fredericks really wrote a page turner with this one! I, along with Rain, kept taking her cleverly disguised wrong plot turns--and though I did pick up on an early clue that Rain missed, I didn't quite understand the motivation until later on(and was actually relieved to be proven right on the whodunit part, because it solved the one rather big part of the story that I was extremely uncomfortable with). Due to certain aspects of the story, I'd say this is definitely more of a high school on up story, but well worth the read. I'll be looking for more from this author for sure.
I am not going to lie.... the cover of the book gives me chills. The book sat on my bookshelf for a really long time because I could not get past the cover. Many of you know that I am a sucker for covers. Sometimes, when I see a cover that just doesn't spark my interest I will by pass it and not even give it a chance. I know that I should not do this. You know, "never judge a book by its cover...blah blah blah..." But I can't get past them. :( And this book was a victim to this very reason. And I should have listened to all of you that told me in the past hey....don't judge a book by its cover..... This book was beyond good. I started writing this review about a week and half ago but I could not find the words to express this story. The story is more then a few hundred pages in between two covers. It is a heart felt story that makes you appreciate every single one of your friends. It makes you want to reach out to those long lost friends that have drifted away and try to make your friendship work because you don't know when you will be able to talk to them again. I personally have never read a book that made me feel that way before. It definitely makes you think, what would you say if you never saw that friend again??? Rain has this one friend who is always there. She has been friends with her since forever and they are drifting apart. But she is trying her hardest to still be friends with her. See she doesn't always understand the decisions that she has made. But sometimes you just have to just be there for moral support. Well when they go to party with their classmates, Rain leaves Wendy at the party because Wendy claimed she was fine. Well now it is the next day and Wendy's body was found in Central Park.....dead. I don't know how I would ever recover from this. It would take a really strong person, and I just don't know if I am that strong. This book showed how such a young girl takes the heartache and how she tries to deal with it. It was more then a page turner. It made you want more. It made you want everything to be okay for Rain, for her to be in peace with what happened. The author did something that not many author can do. She made you feel sorry for the characters. Mariah did an amazing job! I will read anything that she ever writes because she is truly a great author! And I could not believe when I heard that the author got the inspiration for this book by seeing a news story about an actual girl being found in Central Park. That is just heart breaking.
In The Girl in the Park, Mariah Fredericks has combined the heirarchical maneuverings in a high class New York high school with a murder mystery and emerged with a winner. Rain has always been told to "speak up," to put herself out there more, to participate, but she was born with a cleft palate, and all the speech therapy in the world can't cure a nature that is more inclined to stand back and watch...to observe and listen. So no one is more surprised than Rain when she puts herself forward to befriend the loud Long Island transfer, Wendy, who tries too hard to fit in with the children of famous actors, singers, dancers, etc. But Wendy has a way of getting back at the snobby girls who snub her...she hooks up with their boyfriends in a very public way with no apologies. However, that was a couple of years ago, and Rain and Wendy's friendship did not survive that sort of behavior. But when Wendy promises publicly via the internet that she's going to get the popular boyfriend of the most beautiful girl in school, then disappears only to be found dead in the park, Rain decides that Wendy deserves better than the character assassination she's receiving in the press. Rain speaks up and puts herself out there in an effort to find Wendy's killer, and in doing so, finds herself.
Rating: PG-13 (partying, underage drinking, strong undercurrent of sex) Coffee Beans: 3.5/5 Favorite Line: "The sound of her crying is like vomit; you can tell it hurts to let it out." (pg 56, Nook);"Now the whole rotten memory comes back in a rush like vomit." (pg 75, Nook) (Disturbing that they both have to do with vomit) Spoilers: Yes, a little about a subplot Disclaimer: I received this ARC free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for this honest review I immediately connected with this book for a number of reasons. Two of them being the voice it was written in and the fact that it reminded me of The Sky is Everywhere, and I absolutely love that book. So well written and interesting, this novel pulled me along at a speed that had me finishing the book in only a day and a half. Now, let's get down to the specifics, shall we? What I liked: • The cover's pretty stinkin' sweet. Come on, admit it. Uber mysterious and creepy. Perfect for a book about a murder • It reminded me of Jandy Nelson's The Sky is Everywhere, but not as deep and aching—and with a murder—but still about dealing with the loss of someone you loved and finding out they weren't who you thought they were • I loved how the plot kept me guessing who the killer was. By page 100, I was certain I knew who the killer was. Then, at least two other times I thought I knew who the killer was • At first, the writing was a little scattered and abstract with all the breaks and scene shifts and flashbacks. I had to go back a few times and re-read a line or paragraph to understand what was going on, but once I got the flow of it, it was well executed and perfect. • Lots of good lines in the writing. Good subtleties picked up on to give that extra bit of detail to the writing • Overall the characters were pretty well-rounded. I didn't get that deep of an understanding for any one character, except for Rain, but I knew them well enough to feel connected with them in the story What I didn't like: • When Fredericks reveals the murderer, it was sort of anticlimactic for me. I was expecting them to be a little dangerous or violent when Rain figured it out. Instead, they sort of just cried about it. Not entirely believable for someone who's life is officially over • Rain's mom. We don't see much of her, which is typical of a YA novel, but when she was on stage, I wasn't impressed. We don't get the impression that she's a "phone in" mom or a deadbeat. She's a famous opera singer and they're pretty well off. Anyway, the first time I got to be unimpressed by her is the very first page when Rain tells us she'd been at a party the night before and her mom was waking her up early and she was irritated by it because her mom knew she'd been out partying the night before and had gotten home late. The second time (SPOILER ALERT!! IT'S FOR A SUBPLOT, BUT STILL, IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW AHEAD OF TIME, DON'T READ THIS NEXT PART!), was when her mom asked if Rain liked the teacher that walked her home and says the teacher likes her back. Instead of protecting her daughter from a potentially harmful situation, she comments that Rain should stay away BECAUSE HE'S MARRIED. Not because it's wildly inappropriate (like any parent should say) but because she doesn't want her SEVENTEEN-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER TO GET IN THE MIDDLE OF A MARRIAGE. I'm sorry for those of you who don't agree (and that's fine), but that's the ENTIRELY wrong message to be sending to t
A prestigious school near Central Park, the students are wealthy, well connected, yet one of them is found dead in the park and another student arrested for the murder. The new portrays these student as having everything, so why did this happen? Frederick's does a wonderful job portraying the teenage years, that regardless of status in life, there are still outsiders, insecurities and students who want nothing more than to fit in. This is a novel of jealousies, how one person can show a different face to many different people as they try to traverse their teenage years. About friendships and what it means to be a friend. This is a very suspenseful read that will appeal to adults as well as older teens. ARC from NetGalley.
3.5 of 5 stars.When Wendy Geller's body is discovered in Central Park, the newspapers dub her "Party Girl" and the rumors about Wendy's personal life start flying. Her former best friend, Rain, has lived her life by the motto "listen, don't speak." But when it becomes apparent that there's more to Wendy's death than the papers - and her classmates - are letting on, Rain realizes that it's time she stood up and let her voice be heard.I am a big fan of the well-written mystery, and that's exactly what this was. From the start, I was engrossed in the story, desperate, like Rain, to discover the truth about what happened to Wendy. I also found myself drawn to Rain herself; she is a very real, flawed character, and she was really wonderfully drawn. Rain was born with a cleft palate, and as such, had to undergo years of speech therapy. She doesn't like to talk, because, during those times when she was taking speech, she was ridiculed by her rich classmates, and still feels that lingering sense of, "I'm going to say this wrong," every time she goes to open her mouth. But she loved Wendy, and can't stand to let the version of her that's being painted in the papers and news stories be the only side of her people see. Rain becomes determined to figure out exactly what happened the night Wendy died, and I really appreciated her unyielding search for the answers.As for the mystery itself, it had enough twists and turns that it kept me thoroughly engrossed; I was finished with this book in two sittings. I liked how Rain kept discovering new information, and how her gift for listening to others helps her figure things out. As someone who's quiet herself, I liked that the main character of this book wasn't out there and in your face. She was very deliberate in the way she went about gathering information, and while she ends up making mistakes, she does her best to correct them and try to undo the things she's gotten wrong. I just really enjoyed Rain a lot.The reason I took a star and a half off, however, was the way the book itself was written. While the characters and plot were fully fleshed out, the writing was a bit clunky in places, particularly in the sentence structure. The author used a lot of interjections in the sentence, which made everything kind of jerky and not run as smoothly as I would have liked. Also, there are no contractions used in this book, which really threw me off. I mean, we all speak with contractions all the time - they help shorten sentences and make them flow more easily. Without them, the sentences just didn't move as fluidly as I would have liked, and it made me think, more than once, "why didn't she just say 'I'm' or 'hadn't', etc," which pulled me out of the narrative. It was disruptive enough that I had to mark off for it. I know this is a style thing, and it's the author's preference, and everyone is allowed to write the way they want to. But for me, personally, it just really didn't work.The Girl in the Park is a really great read, nonetheless. The mystery is solid, the characters well constructed, and the story itself quite satisfying. I would definitely recommend it.An e-galley was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
The first word that came to mind when I finished this book was "wow." In the span of a little over 200 pages, Mariah Fredericks captivated me and sent her message home. The Girl in the Park reminds me of the saying that goes along the lines of "it can be any of us." Wendy is the party girl, but she is also the one who wants to be loved, the one who had a nice best friend, the one who made the wrong decisions and placed her trust in the wrong people.I love how the flashbacks develop the context surrounding the situation. While they show us how Rain can't stop thinking about Wendy after hearing about Wendy's murder, they also tell us more about Rain and Wendy, their friendship, and how they drifted apart. It makes us all the more curious about the circumstances surrounding Wendy's murder.Rain, the nice former best friend, is an easily relatable narrator. Like Wendy, she also wants to be loved. Unlike Wendy, she listens and observes. She doesn't try to be someone that she isn't. And when people start saying mean things about Wendy after Wendy's murder, Rain is the one who tries to find out what really happens because she is one of the few who knows what Wendy was actually like. Through her, we get a better understanding of who Wendy Geller is and about human nature in general.The Girl in the Park is a quick read and one that I am glad to have read during the day. If you like dark mysteries, go ahead and read it in the dark. If not, you should still read this, but read it when you're safe, locked up, and the sun is shining.
There were two main reasons why I really liked this book. The mystery was definitely the first thing about the book that drew me in. I love love LOVE a good mystery that delivers. That is realistic. The Girl in the Park definitely has this. Throughout the whole book I found myself nodding my head in agreement whenever Rain suspected somebody. By the end of the end of book, I found myself going Ah-ha! So THAT'S who did it!, because I honestly didn't know.The other aspect was the story behind the mystery: Rain's friendship with Wendy (the dead girl). Although I would have loved to have learned more about what exactly Wendy did that made Rain go through such a drastic change, I could see how Rain changed because of her. I love seeing Rain continue to solve the mystery despite how scared she was.This a definitely a novel you should pick up. 4 stars!
2.5 stars For a while I was stuck between a 2.5 rating and a 3 rating. Unfortunately, even though Maria Fredericks talks about series topics for the YA crowd, the formulaic plot couldn't raise this book to a 3. Plot: A young girl goes missing after a house party one night and she is found strangled and sexually assaulted the next day. I chose this book because it's the classic YA murder mystery, especially when it involves a strained relationship. The novel starts right in the action; our MC, Rain, receives a call early one morning from her ex-best friend's mother wondering if she knew Wendy's whereabouts. The novel progresses as Rain finds clues that leads her to believe that the culprit was a fellow classmate and she does whatever she can to bring justice to Wendy Greller. I really liked that Rain was a fragile creature with insecurities. This novel is as much about Rain's attempt to find herself as it is to find Wendy's killer. I also liked that Fredricks brings addresses the issue of victim-blaming and slut-shaming. These are very serious issues in the media and it was good to see it addressed for the high school crowd. Unfortunately, the mystery was too easy to solve and I felt like I was reading just to confirm my theory (it was confirmed). There were no new developments, just waiting for Rain to realize what you, the reader, had already realized. Characters: Rain is a very interesting main character. She was born with a cleft palate which made her the target for most of her young life. As the book is fairly short (just 224 pages) and was not enough to get to know the characters. We meet Rain who has the most development, Taylor who is Rain's best friend, and Nico who is the prime suspect. I didn't make a connection with any of the characters, I barely made one with Rain. There are hints about Rain's personal life situation, but not enough to form a full picture. Setting: The Girl in the Park takes place at an upper class New York high school. There isn't much to say about it. Rain moves mostly between her house and school, and I couldn't really make a clear image of what everyday life was for the residents. Many of characters allude to the socioeconomic status of the neighborhood and how there are outsiders, but I didn't get that. From anyone. Short n Sweet: Maria Fredericks' The Girl in the Park is a stereotypical "party-girl-found-dead whodunnit with no surprises or loops. The characters are mostly one dimensional but Fredericks does make the issue of slut shaming a focus and how people are eager to blame the victim rather than the true culprit.
I have read many murder mystery books, and this on was one of the worst ones I have read. I kept finding myself frustrated with Rain. I felt like her speech problems and insecurites drove the whole novel. She was a static character. Actually, all of the characters seemed static. It seemed like the author had to force the story so that Rain could have memories of Wendy. The memories came out of nowhere. They did not make sense right away. All of the suspects were the typical suspects. I wanted one original thought out of this book, but I never got one. It was like the author borrowed ideas/concepts from better murder mystery books. I had to force myself to keep reading because it was so boring. I was extremely disappointed with the entire book. I was excited when I read the blurb, but was bored after the first 30 pages. The book had potential to be great, but just ended up sucking.
This book was really good. I read this book in 5 days.
I was pleasantly surprised by this mystery. The main character, Rain, is easy to relate to and the plot itself could happen in any town. Rain has a cleft palate and avoids speaking because she believes that she embarrasses herself. She isn't the type of person to speak out, but when her friend, Wendy, is found dead, she knows she must try to hunt down the killer. Rain was a good friend. She and Wendy did not always see eye to eye and were more acquaintances than friends in the end, but she knew Wendy very well and knew that what the police were suggesting happened was unlikely. The reader will get to follow Rain throughout the story as she acts a bit like a Nancy Drew. She recruits some friends and the story progresses as one might expect from a mystery. The mystery remains tame through much of the story, but the reader will be pleased that there is a rapid upsurge in the middle that continues to the end. The ending of this book was perfect. The reader may or may not see what's coming, the author definitely surprised me. Overall, this book is recommended to young adult/teen readers.