Review: They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman

Title: They Wish They Were Us
Author: Jessica Goodman
Publisher: Razorbill
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Hardcover, 336 Pages
Published August 2020

Summary: 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 is vows to find out, but digging deeper could mean putting her friendships, and her future, in jeopardy.

I first found out about this book when we were putting a call out to 2020 debut authors for interviews, and I was immediately intrigued. A murder mystery set at an elite private school on Long Island (which is where we're from)? I immediately preordered a copy because I just knew that I had to have it. And I'm so glad that I did, because I ended up absolutely *loving* this book. So without further ado, let's get into my review! 

As the summary explains, three years ago, Jill's best friend Shaila is murdered by her boyfriend, Graham. Or at least, that's the story that goes around their elite prep school on Long Island. Since Graham confessed, that has to be it...until Jill starts getting texts proclaiming that it wasn't Graham's fault after all -- that he was framed. Of course Jill wants to dig deeper and find justice for her best friend, but at the same time, doing so may cause her to sever not only friendships, but also her status as a Player, an elite member of the secret society at Gold Coast Prep. So what will prevail -- her goal to have a good future that she's worked so hard for, or risking it all to avenge her best friend?

As I've already said, I absolutely loved this book. I was immediately sold when I found out that the book was set on Long Island, since that's where we're from. I love seeing books set in the places that I am familiar with! And once I decided to pick this book up, I was immediately drawn in by the story. It's a pretty short book, less than 340 pages, so I managed to read over a hundred pages in a single sitting. It was just so good that I couldn't put it down and kept wanting to know what was going to happen next!

Something that I really admired was the way that Jill wasn't as easily enamored by the Players as everyone else was. She saw through it for what it really contained, and she is caught between seeking justice or hiding behind the mirage of popularity -- even if everyone around her didn't seem to think so. She's caught in the crossfire of having the future she's busted her ass for or avenging her best friend, and both options come with consequences that she has to juggle. And as the texts proclaiming Graham's innocence increase, so does Jill's doubt that the night Shaila died was as cut-and-dry in the first place.

(Major spoilers in this paragraph, so please skip to the next one if you want to avoid them!) I also really loved the trail that this story took me on. I spent a good majority of the book thinking that Shay's killer was Robert, then I was convinced that it was their teacher for awhile, and when I found out that it was Adam, it only clicked in my brain about two seconds before it was revealed on the page. And let me tell you, I was shocked! It was a really great plot twist, the kind that you don't see coming at all, but once you look back and think on it, all of the clues are there. Hats off to Jessica Goodman, because I wasn't expecting an ending like that and it was great!

Overall, I absolutely loved They Wish They Were Us, and I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a great thriller that will keep them on the edge of their seat as they try to figure out if Shay's justice was really served or not. It's safe to say that Jessica Goodman's writing got me hooked and I'm a fan for life! I'll be eagerly anticipating her next book. :-)

If you're interested in reading our interview with Jessica, you can check it out here!

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