Title: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder
Author: Holly Jackson
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Published: 4 February 2020
Quote: Was this the real Andie Bell, hidden behind that perfect smile, behind those sparkling pale blue eyes? Everyone in her orbit so dazzled by her, so blinded, that they hadn’t noticed a darkness that might’ve lurked beneath-not until it was too late.
Fairview, CT is a small, peaceful town. And everyone knows what happened five years ago. Andie Bell disappeared. Salil Singh didn’t have an alibi. Before the cops could talk to him, he killed himself in the woods. He was pronounced guilty. No trial. No defense. He was guilty. Salil Singh killed his girlfriend Andie Bell. Pip sees how this case still haunts the town today. She thinks there is more to the story. Now as a senior in high school, Pip uses her senior capstone project to cast doubt on Sal’s guilt. But soon, the evidence leads to dark secrets the town didn’t know about, and there’s someone who doesn’t want Pip digging into the past.
As I way to support independent bookstores, I only include links to indie bookstores. Eso Won Books is not only independent bookstores, but they are also a black-owned bookstore. If you use Bookshop, you can specify whichever indie bookstore you want the funds to go to or have it just go to the general indie bookstore fund.
I truly loved this book. Everything was perfect about it. Pippa “Pip” Fitz-Amobi is our protagonist who is obsessed with a case that happened in 2014. Andie Bell was murdered and everyone knows who did it: her boyfriend, Salil “Sal” Singh. Yet, Pip isn’t so sure. She thinks Sal is innocent and is using her senior capstone project to prove it.
As she tries to piece together the last few months of Andie’s life and the few days leading up to her death, Pip sees that not everything in Andie’s life is as perfect as the media made it out to seem. Yes, she was popular, beautiful, did everything a “perfect” daughter should. But she was also a bully, blackmailer, cheater, a drug dealer; she was dealing with low self-esteem and self-worth.
The Singh family is dealing with a ghost house and treated like monsters. Ravi, Sal’s younger brother, teams up with Pip on her project because he also doesn’t believe his brother is innocent.
As they dig deeper into the case, they find that not everyone is okay with them unearthing the past like this. Soon the threats start coming, but of course, Pip doesn’t tell anyone. Through all of this, we find that most people in Fairview, CT are not what they seem. Everyone has their secrets. Do we create the monsters? If something or someone doesn’t fit into our narrative who we thought they were, then should we cut away those parts, those people, until they can?
In the end, Pippa’s project is a huge presentation in front of the whole town and news teams. She states the people who were involved in the murder of Andie Bell, and the ones who were morally to blame. She rips away the Andie Bell who the town wanted to remember while acknowledging the verbally abusive household she grew up in. Maybe Andie would’ve grown out of it, if she only had a chance, but maybe not. The important part isn’t Andie. It’s the town. So ready to accept that Andie was this golden girl. To accept that Sal murdered her because it fit the “usual” narrative.
Enemies, monsters, us v. them. We’re so ready to place people in their correct boxes forgetting a person’s humanity along the way. Pippa ends her presentation with “though this story does have its monsters, I’ve found that it is not one that can be so easily divided into the good and the bad. In the end, this was a story about people and their different shades of desperation, crashing up against each other” (385).
You can’t pick out a monster or an enemy on site. And sometimes it’s not as cut and dry. We all have bad and good in us (as Sirius tells Harry in the 5th Harry Potter book). What matters is what we chose to act on. Sometimes we act rashly, in fear and desperation, as the people in the book did, but that doesn’t necessarily make us bad.
“There’s one final player in this story, Fairview, and it’s us. Collectively, we turned a beautiful life into the myth of a monster. We turned a family home into a ghost home. And from now on we must do better” (386-387).
We have to do better. For all the Salil Singhs and the Andie Bells, the Becca Bells and the Elliot Wards. For Ravi and Pippa.
Happy Reading Darlings!