The Prized Girl
Booklist Reviews 2019 November #1
From the ages of 5 to 12, Jenny Kennedy was the reigning queen of beauty pageants in the Northeast. By 13, she's come to hate pageants and doesn't even try out for the cheerleading squad. Then, before her fourteenth birthday, she's found raped and murdered in her Massachusetts hometown of Wrenton. Despite the age difference and lack of a close family bond, her half-sister, Virginia Kennedy, 26, feels obligated to find Jenny's killer. But Virginia has her own baggage, notably the effects of a four-year sexual relationship, which started when she was 14, with "cool" high-school math teacher Mark Renkin, who was one of Jenny's teachers. While the investigation goes well beyond the bounds of Wrenton to include known pedophiles, the answers are found close to home. The narrative toggles between Jenny's activities leading up to her death and Virginia's first-person accounts of the weeks afterward, as secrets are laid bare. Although this debut would have benefited from more likable characters, its nicely twisting plot will hold readers' interests. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.
PW Reviews 2019 October #4
Set in small-town New England, Green's disappointing debut introduces Virginia Kennedy—a dysfunctional 26-year-old estranged from her family, but obsessed with solving the apparent rape and murder of her half-sister, 13-year-old beauty queen Jenny Kennedy. The authorities like intellectually disabled Benjy Lincoln for the crime; he attended all of Jenny's pageants, and Jenny's overprotective mother recently accused him of trying to molest Jenny. Virginia isn't persuaded, though, particularly since Jenny's body was found near the house of Mark Renkin, the high school teacher with whom then-teenage Virginia had a four-year sexual relationship. When Det. Brandon Colsen shows an interest in Virginia, she takes advantage of their burgeoning romance to join his investigation. Virginia's first-person narrative alternates with third-person chapters chronicling Jenny's final days. Unconvincing characters, manufactured conflict, and clichéd plot devices plague this meandering mystery. The pace quickens in the book's second half, but the grim and twisted conclusion fails to satisfy. Though the epilogue opens the door for a sequel, Green would do well to begin anew. Agent: Brandi Bowles, United Talent Agency. (Jan.)Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.