Book Review

Review: With Malice by Eileen Cook

with malice by eileen cookPublished: June 7 2016

Number of pages: 320

Format: hardcover

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Genre: contemporary, mystery, murder, crime, psychological thriller, romance

Audience: YA

Rating: 3/5 owl hoots

Find it on Goodreads | Chapters Indigo


Eighteen-year-old Jill Charron wakes up in a hospital bed, her leg in a cast, and stiches on her face. She has no recollection of the last six weeks, and she discovers that she was involved in a fetal car accident while on a school trip to Italy. A trip Jill doesn’t remember taking. She was jetted home by her father to receive quality care, which also includes a lawyer, the media, and the press team. Because maybe the accident wasn’t an accident.

Once the accident makes national headlines, Jill finds herself in the center of a murder investigation. It doesn’t help when the media portrays her as a sociopath who killed her best friend, Simone in a jealous fit of rage. Jill would never hurt Simone. But what really happened in Italy? Jill desperately tries to piece together the missing puzzles of her life from the past six weeks so she can remember what had happened before loosing a hold on her once-perfect life.


My Review:

Imagine yourself waking up in a hospital bed. You have no idea how you ended up there and you ask yourself what happened? Why am I here? You try to remember what did this to you but you have no recollection of where and when this happened before you were in the hospital. Worse still, your parents tell you about the trip to Italy with your best friend in the last six months, the only problem is that you cannot remember one single thing about Italy, nor do you even remember going there. It’s like the past six months of your life were wiped clean so you begin to feel terrified for not having any memories of it. Sounds scary right? Not as scary when you find out about the car accident that killed your best friend…

This is how the story begins when we’re introduced to Jill Charron; senior high school student who travelled abroad for her study program with her best friend, Simone. The whole trip was supposed to be a European getaway, just the two of them together in Italy exploring the sights and sounds. Jill is the brainy one, who works hard, studies, and receives top marks, and was also accepted to Yale. But aside from her academia, Jill is also socially awkward, shy, and quiet. Simone on the other hand, is the exact opposite, the social butterfly that can get anyone’s attention and is recognized as the most popular girl in the school. In the outside, you might think of their friendship perfect, but underneath are secrets and lies that slowly unravel when once of them sees the truth behind their friendship.

There is always drama between high school girls, teenagers at this age can be very dramatic and sometimes it can blow over so they end up making up and be friends again. It’s happened before with Jill and Simone but in Italy, something different occurs that changes everything between them. At first, I started to like Jill; for an eighteen-year-old, she is pretty brave to walk pass her grief alone and ignores the media on how they distorted her image from a crash victim to a cold-blooded murderer. It’s really hard to move on with your life when everyone is talking behind you back and wishing bad things would happen to you for something that you don’t remember doing. But Jill always tries to keep her head up and finds out the truth on her own. Jill has her parents for support but even as parents they don’t seem to have their daughter’s best interests to heart. I was frustrated how they kept making decisions for her without having Jill being a part of it, and worse they act on them without her consult. I understand as parents they only want to do what’s best for Jill but this is her life, so why shut her out of it?

When I started this book I thought this was going to be a story where the truth to what really happened in Italy will be revealed. We see what may have been the truth behind the accident but there is no proof of it. This is when my feelings for Jill changed when we see a version of the truth, and how she was taking a lesson from Simone by following “what a girl has to do” mantra. There was no way to know what really happened between Jill and Simone that I felt robbed! And after that fight scene, I wasn’t sure who I hated more: Jill or Simone because the way I saw it, they were both backstabbers and liars.

I think readers would agree this is one of those love it or hate it stories, depending on your thoughts of the ending. The whole story is told in Jill’s perspective but it would have been really nice if we found out the truth in Italy because even now, I still cannot think about the story and I’m left wondering what really happened? I will give points for keeping me guessing whodunit and for adding press clippings, interview transcripts, and social media posts which were a nice mix to the story. I just wish I knew the truth!


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