I Killed Zoe Spanos

Anna Cicconi is a new high school graduate filling the summer before college matriculation by working as a nanny in the Hamptons. Her mom is generally caring but works two jobs and so doesn’t have a whole lotta time and energy for hovering over her only child. Anna feels somewhat neglected, but she has friends and they go haring about, sometimes resulting in Anna being brought home by the cops because of excessive drinking or other misbehavior. Over the summer Anna hopes that holding down a responsible job, as well as distance from her partying friends, will help reset her life to a more positive trajectory.

She likes Paisley, the child she is tasked to look after, and Paisley’s parents are kind and generous toward her as far as living arrangements and time off.  But Anna finds out quickly that she bears a strong resemblance to Zoe Spanos, a local girl about her age who went missing months earlier.  People are startled when they meet her, and then Anna herself starts to experience odd feelings of familiarity about her surroundings and dim memories of the missing girl.  She strikes up a friendship with Caden, the boy next door who was Zoe’s soulmate.  Gradually she is drawn into wanting to solve the mystery of Zoe’s disappearance.  Her confusion leads her to the police station, where under prolonged interviewing without counsel she confesses that somehow she must have killed Zoe, though she has no clear memory of how it could have happened.  Where are her memories coming from?  Why would she think she was involved?

This is quite the mystery thriller–well-written, effectively plotted, keeps readers guessing pretty much to the end.  There is a wide range of characters sympathetically presented and satisfactorily fleshed-out.  

There is coarse language, including religious profanity.  There is casual sex.  Same-sex relationships are presented matter-of-factly.  There is drinking and other substance abuse, mental illness, young adults trying to take care of troubled relatives, infidelity, accidental violence and death, fear of drowning, supernatural intimations, romance, teenagers working jobs and planning for their futures, and the working out of friendship tiffs and reconnections.  If you are a reader enamored with beachside communities, lives of the rich, and fun in New York City, this is a book for you.  The author does a nice job of capturing that milieu.

If you do not object to the caveats above, you will find the book an interesting, page-turning read.  It would make a great movie, and from the author’s comments at the back of the book it sounds like that might be in the works.

Categories: Controversial YA Topics, Crime, Diversity, Dysfunctional Relationships, LGBTQIA, Mysteries, Offensive Language in YA Literature, Peer Relationships, Violence

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