‘They Wish They Were Us’ – Jessica Goodman


Fairly standard fare here, which is a shame as this had potential to be so much more.

Jill Newman is about to start her Senior year at the exclusive prep school she has a scholarship to. She is one of the group known as the Players, a hand-picked group of eight that are chosen each year to carry on the tradition. Weekly tasks and challenges to prove your group spirit…and, in exchange, a free pass to tests and advice/shortcuts for life. These are privileged kids for no reason other than someone chose them.

It would be too easy to despise Jill and the group for getting everything handed to them on a plate while those around them work. So the author takes great pains to emphasise Jill is clever, a grafter, and needing her scholarship to set her big plans in motion. She also happens to have been best friends with Shaila, a student who was killed a few years ago. Sympathy vote checked, but that isn’t really enough to overcome the easy pass she and her friends have.

The book focuses on Jill’s internal struggle with what this life offers her. She feels pressure to act a certain way but, deep down, hates everything she represents. How can she move forward if she’s held captive by her present?

The dilemma is solved by Jill’s decision to help an old classmate. Rachel is the sister of the young man who got put away for Shaila’s murder. She is convinced her brother’s innocent and so Jill decides to do the right thing and help try to uncover the truth.

There’s an attempt at a red herring straight out of Pretty Little Liars territory. Fairly early on I had my suspicions as to who might be responsible. Sadly I was proven right and after the ease with which the girls got the confession I can only hang my head at the pitiful job the police did at the time.

This will have its fans. I liked the message it tries to give about working for your successes, but there was just too much that didn’t work for me to really fall under the spell of this one.