They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman PDF
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Table of Contents
- 1 Description of They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman PDF
- 2 Editorial Reviews
- 3 Download They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman PDF
Description of They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman PDF
In Gold Coast, Long Island, everything from the expensive downtown shops to the manicured beaches, to the pressed uniforms of Jill Newman and her friends, looks perfect. But as Jill found out three years ago, nothing is as it seems.
Freshman year Jill’s best friend, the brilliant, dazzling Shaila Arnold, was killed by her boyfriend. After that dark night on the beach, Graham confessed, the case was closed, and Jill tried to move on.
Now, it’s Jill’s senior year and she’s determined to make it her best yet. After all, she’s a senior and a Player–a member of Gold Coast Prep’s exclusive, not-so-secret secret society. Senior Players have the best parties, highest grades and the admiration of the entire school. This is going to be Jill’s year. She’s sure of it.
But when Jill starts getting texts proclaiming Graham’s innocence, her dreams of the perfect senior year start to crumble. If Graham didn’t kill Shaila, who did? Jill vows to find out, but digging deeper could mean putting her friendships, and her future, in jeopardy.
“Goodman deftly explores the complex nature of friendship, privilege, grief, and the often crushing expectations placed on teens, all of which dovetails neatly with a twisty murder mystery…A sophisticated and suspenseful debut.”—Kirkus Reviews
“This debut murder mystery is filled with twistsand turns that will keep its pages turning.”—Booklist
“Seductive and slick, They Wish They Were Us is a searing novel about power, privilege, and the dangerous pursuit of perfection. You’ll remember the girls of Gold Coast Prep Long after the last page.”—Jessica Knoll, New York Times bestselling author of The Luckiest Girl Alive and The Favorite Sister
“Fast-paced and completely consuming—I was swept into this riveting mystery from beginning to end. They Wish They Were Us smartly explores the complexities of friendship, the secrets and lies buried under the picturesque façade, and the ultimate cost of perfection.”—Megan Miranda, New York Times bestselling author of All the Missing Girls, The Perfect Stranger, and The Last Guest House
“A whip-smart mystery with a pitch-perfect voice.” — Kara Thomas, author of The Cheerleaders, Little Monsters, and The Darkest Corners
“A juicy, fast-paced, addictive tale that’s more than a mystery—it’s a timely exploration of ambition, loyalty, and how far we’ll go to belong. I couldn’t put it down.” — Andrea Bartz, author of The Lost Night and The Herd
They Wish They Were Us is a dark, twisty story about a group of teens at an elite East Coast prep school who will do anything to get into the colleges of their dreams and stay at the top of the pecking order — even if it means resorting to something drastic. I love thrillers and have been wanting to read more of them, so I jumped at the chance to read this one.
To be perfectly honest, I think I would have enjoyed this book more if I had approached it as a contemporary with thriller elements, rather than a straight-up thriller. I expected the actual murder investigation to be the main plot thread, but it was more about Jill’s relationships with her friends and her struggle to succeed under a high amount of pressure. It reminded me of Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall — a contemporary largely focused on themes and character dynamics, with a hint of another genre mixed in (thriller for They Wish They Were Us; speculative for Before I Fall).
The story dealt with some interesting themes, such as privilege, cliques, and the way in which those in power can force people to do things even if participation is supposedly voluntary. It also touched on the intersection of gender with this kind of “good ol’ boys club” mentality, with the popular female characters not really getting a chance to call the shots despite being members of said club, but I thought this thread was a little half-baked.
Overall, though, I found They Wish They Were Us to be a well-written and intriguing story, albeit in a quieter way than I’d expected. If you’re looking for a well-written dark contemporary read, this book is for you — just don’t go in expecting Nancy Drew levels of sleuthing.
Disclaimer: I received a free e-ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Review of They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman PDF
THEY WISH THEY WERE US is an engaging YA thriller reminiscent of GOSSIP GIRLS. The book follows Jill, who had lost her BFF Shaila when they were freshman years ago. Shaila was murdered by her boyfriend, Graham. Jill is a Player, an elite group of students with brutal initiation practices at a wealthy private school.
Jill is now a senior and on top of the food chain. She has never forgotten Shaila, and when someone from her past contacts her to say that Graham didn’t kill Shaila, the question becomes who did. While most of the book is about the Players, this mystery underlies the plot to add some suspense.
What I loved: This is a highly captivating read. The main theme of the book seems to be about hazing, why it is done, continued by those it hurts, and the power plays it serves. This was really thought-provoking and its persistence is interesting to examine, especially with regards to the roles people play in it and why they go along with it. There is also some interesting subtext about privilege.
The mystery of what really happened to Shaila keeps the book moving quickly. While I had a bunch of guesses (and one was correct), I appreciated that the answer was not obvious and it needs to be played out.
What left me wanting more: As a relatively small point, the beginning of the plot is somewhat hard to follow, as we switch between time and information comes slowly. This does speed up pretty fast though. There were also a lot of characters that can be a bit hard to follow at first.
Final verdict: Overall, THEY WISH THEY WERE US is an intriguing and captivating YA psychological thriller that not only seeks to solve a murder but also tackles hazing and privilege.
Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher through netgalley. All opinions are my own.
About the Author
Jessica Goodman is a senior editor at Cosmopolitan. They Wish They Were Us is her debut novel.
Follow Jessica on Twitter @jessgood and on Instagram @jessicagoodman.
Excerpt of They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman PDF
The first day of school always means the same thing: a tribute to Shaila. Today should be the first day of her senior year. Instead, she is, like she has been for the past three years, dead. And we are due for one more reminder.
“Ready?” Nikki asks as we pull into the parking lot. She throws her shiny black BMW, a back-to-school present from her parents, into park and takes an enormous slurp of iced coffee. “Because I’m not.” She flips the mirror down, swipes a coat of watermelon pink lipstick over her mouth, and pinches her cheeks until they flush. “You’d think they could just give her a plaque or start a charity run or something. This is brutal.”
Nikki had been counting down to the first day of senior year since we left for summer break back in June. She called me this morning at 6:07 a.m. and when I rolled over and picked up in a hazy fog, she didn’t even wait for me to say hi. “Be ready in an hour or find another ride!” she yelled, a hairdryer blowing behind her into the speaker.
She didn’t even need to beep her horn when she showed up. I knew she was waiting out front thanks to the deafening notes of Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know.” We both have a thing for eighties music. When I climbed into the front seat, Nikki looked as if she’d already had two Starbucks Ventis and a full glam squad appointment. Her dark eyes glimmered thanks to a swatch of sparkly eyeshadow and she had rolled the sleeves of her navy Gold Coast Prep blazer up to her elbows in an artful yet sloppy manner. Nikki’s one of the only people who can make our hideous uniforms actually look cool. They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman PDF
Thank God my nightmares stayed away last night and the near-constant bags under my eyes had disappeared. Didn’t hurt that I’d had a few extra minutes to apply a thick coat of mascara and deal with my brows.
When Nikki pulled out of my driveway, I was giddy with anticipation. Our time had come. We were finally at the top.
But now that we’re actually here, parked in the Gold Coast Prep senior lot for the first time, a shiver slinks down my spine. We still have to get through Shaila’s memorial and it hangs over us like a cloud, ready to rain all over the fun.
Shaila was the first student to ever die while attending Gold Coast Prep, so no one knew how to act or what to do. But somehow, it was decided. The school would start the year off with a fifteen-minute ceremony honoring Shaila. The tradition would last until we graduated. And as a thank you, the Arnolds would donate a new English wing in Shaila’s name. Well played, Headmaster Weingarten.
But no one wanted to remember Graham Calloway. No one mentioned him at all.
Last year’s assembly wasn’t so bad. Weingarten stood up and said something about how much Shaila loved math—she didn’t—and how she would have been so thrilled to be starting AP Calc if she was still with us—she wasn’t. Mr. and Mrs. Arnold showed up, as they did the year before, and sat in the front row of the auditorium, dabbing their cheeks with cotton handkerchiefs, the old-fashioned kind that were so worn, they were almost translucent and probably held residual snot from decades before.
The six of us sat next to them, front and center, identifying ourselves as Shaila’s survivors. We were chosen as eight. But after that night we became six.
When Nikki weaves through the parking lot and into the spot reserved for class president, Quentin is already waiting for us. “We’re seniors, bitches!” he says and slaps a piece of notebook paper against my window flashing a hastily drawn doodle of the three of us. In it, Nikki holds her senior class president gavel, I grasp onto a telescope twice my size, and Quentin’s covered in flaming-red paint to match his hair. Our little trio makes my heart melt.
I squeal at the sight of real Quentin and fling the car door open, throwing myself at his middle.
“You’re here!” I say, burying my face into his doughy chest.
“Aw, Jill,” he says with a laugh. “C’mere Nikki.” She launches herself into our hug and I inhale the dewy scent of Quentin’s laundry. Nikki leaves a sticky kiss on my cheek. In seconds, the others appear. Robert, with his slicked-back hair, takes the last puff of a mint-flavored Juul and shoves it into the pocket of his leather jacket. He should get a handful of demerits for wearing it in favor of his blazer, but he never does. “I can’t believe we have to do this again,” he says.
“What? School or Shaila?” Henry comes up behind me and rests a hand on the top of my butt, nipping my ear with his teeth. He smells overwhelmingly male, like freshly cut grass mixed with expensive French deodorant. I blush, remembering this will be the first time we’re seen at school together as a we and inch closer to him, tucking my shoulder into his armpit.
“What do you think?” Robert rolls his eyes.
“Shut up, you idiots,” Marla says, whipping her platinum-blonde braid over her muscled shoulder. Her face is tanned from a summer spent training at the best field hockey camp in New England. Her stick hangs low over her back in a tie-dyed canvas bag, its taped handle peeking out the top. The ultimate sign of varsity realness. She wears it well.
“Whatever,” Robert mumbles. “Let’s get this over with.” He walks ahead, leading us onto the grassy quad, manicured and untouched after a summer without students. If you stand in just the right spot, below the clock tower and two steps to the right, you can glimpse a sliver of the Long Island Sound just a mile down the road and the tall sailboats swaying carefully next to one another. The salty air makes my hair curl. There’s no use owning a flatiron here. They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman PDF
I bring up the rear and gaze at my friends’ backs. Their perfect silhouettes set against the sun. For a moment nothing exists outside the Players. We are a force field. And only we know the truth about what we’ve had to do to get here.
Underclassmen—Nikki calls them undies for short—trot along the paved walkways, but no one comes close to our little unit. They keep their distance, tugging at their too-stiff white button-downs, tightening belt buckles and rolling up their pleated baby blue skirts. None of them dare to make eye contact with us. They’ve learned the rules by now.
I am sweating by the time we reach the auditorium, and when Henry opens the door for me I’m filled with dread. Most of the velvet-covered seats are already filled and big bug eyes turn to see us walk down the aisle to our places in the front row next to Mr. and Mrs. Arnold. They’re both dressed in black. When we approach, they stand and dole out pursed-lipped air kisses to each of us. The smacking sounds echo through the cavernous room, and the scrambled eggs I had for breakfast curdle inside my stomach. The whole thing reminds me of my grandfather’s funeral when we stood for hours, receiving guest after guest until my puckered mouth wilted like a flower. I am the last to greet Mrs. Arnold and she digs her crimson nails into my skin.
“Hello, Jill,” she whispers into my ear. “Happy first day of school.”
I manage a smile and wriggle my arm from her grasp after a moment too long. When I squeeze in beside Henry and Nikki, my heart beats fast. Shaila stares back at us from a gilded frame, sitting on an easel in the middle of the stage. Her golden locks fall in full, beachy waves and her deep green eyes have been made more electric with some help from Photoshop. She looks the same as she always did, forever fifteen, while the rest of us have acquired additional pimples, more painful periods, nastier dragon breath.
The theater smells like freshly xeroxed paper and sharpened pencils. Gone is the musk that had settled in by the end of last spring’s school year. This place was the one thing the Arnolds got right for her memorial. The auditorium was Shaila’s favorite spot on campus. She starred in every class play she could, emerging from afternoon rehearsals on a euphoric high I couldn’t understand. “I need the spotlight,” she said once with her deep, full laugh. “At least I can admit it.”
“Good morning, Gold Coast,” Headmaster Weingarten bellows. His bowtie is slightly askew and his salt-and-pepper mustache looks recently trimmed above his pointy chin. “I see many new faces among our ranks and I want to say welcome from the bottom of my heart. Join me.”
People turn to the newbies, kids who had spent their previous lives in public schools and up until today thought the first day of school meant homeroom and roll call, not saying what’s up to a dead girl. Now, in this new and strange place, their bewildered expressions betray them. They are obvious. I was one of them once, back in sixth grade. My scholarship came through only a week before classes started and I came to Gold Coast Prep not knowing a single soul. The memory nearly gives me hives.
“Welcome!” The rest of the auditorium says in unison. Our row stays silent.
“You may be wondering why we are here, why we start every year in this very space.” He pauses and wipes a tissue across his forehead. The air conditioning whirs on overdrive, but he still glistens with sweat under the bright stage lights. “It is because we want to take time to remember one of our best, one of our brightest, Shaila Arnold.”
Heads turn toward Shaila’s portrait, but Mr. and Mrs. Arnold keep their focus on Headmaster Weingarten straight ahead.
“Shaila is no longer with us,” he says, “but her life was radiant, one we cannot forget. She lives on in her family, in her friends, and within these halls.”
Mr. and Mrs. Arnold nod their heads.
“I am here to tell you that Gold Coast Prep is, and will always be, a family. We must continue to protect one another,” he says. “We will not let another Gold Coast student be harmed.” Nikki’s elbow presses into my rib cage.
“So take this as a reminder,” Headmaster Weingarten continues. “At Gold Coast Prep, we strive to do good. We aim to be grand. We see ourselves as helping hands.”
Ah, the Gold Coast motto.
“Join in if you know it,” he says, smiling.
Five hundred and twenty-three Gold Coast Prep students, ages six to eighteen, raise their voices. Even the new kids, who were instructed to memorize the stupid words before they even set foot on campus.
“At Gold Coast Prep, life is good. Our time here is grand. We see ourselves as helping hands,” the chorus says in a creepy sing-song.
“Very good,” says Headmaster Weingarten. “Now, off to class. It will be quite a year.”