After being convicted of killing her mother and spending ten years in prison, Janie is now being released because some of the forensic evidence was mishandled. A technicality that gets her out of prison, but that in no way exonerates her of the crime.
Unsure of exactly what happened when her mother was murdered, Janie is determined to see if she can uncover the specifics. She doesn't have much to go on, but with the help of her lawyer, she plans to evade the press after her release and do some investigating on her own.
Now don't go thinking Janie is a sweet thing or that she is totally convinced of her own innocence. Janie and her mother definitely did not get along, and at seventeen, Janie excelled in the shallow, superficial, and spiteful.
Many readers have found her character unlikable, but I felt like Janie cultivated her image with precision--until the persona she created became an essential part of her. The events preceding her mother's murder reveal that her taunting words and behavior are not directed at everyone, and that she is aware of the triviality of the exclusive society in which she lived.
In some ways, the ten years Janie spent in prison have frozen her personality; however, removed from the influences of the outside word, Janie has pondered the events that resulted in her conviction and has done some research in the prison library. When she is finally released on the technicality, Janie is prepared to carry on her investigation in the real world. Still unsure about whether or not she is guilty, Janie and Noah, her lawyer, do everything possible to throw the media off the scent. But Janie plans to evade Noah as well.
The thing is...I like Janie. Maybe I wouldn't if I actually knew her, but I find her feisty and funny. She is stunted in some ways, but intelligent, and her sarcastic remarks are often both insightful and revealing.
I don't think I'll discuss any more about the plot, but Janie's personal search for the truth leads into the past. What I will say is that this book surprised me. Not just, "well, I wasn't thinking that could happen," more "that isn't what I was expecting AT ALL!" But I don't want to give anything away!
Elizabeth Little has written two nonfiction books about linguistics, but this is her debut in the field of fiction. I really liked it and hope for more. Maybe even more about Janie.
Mystery/Suspense. July, 2014. 364 pages.