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The Girl in the Park
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The Girl in the Park
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When Wendy Geller's body is found in Central Park after the night of a rager, newspaper headlines scream,"Death in the Park: Party Girl Found Strangled." But shy Rain, once Wendy's best friend, knows...
When Wendy Geller's body is found in Central Park after the night of a rager, newspaper headlines scream,"Death in the Park: Party Girl Found Strangled." But shy Rain, once Wendy's best friend, knows...
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Description-

  • When Wendy Geller's body is found in Central Park after the night of a rager, newspaper headlines scream,"Death in the Park: Party Girl Found Strangled." But shy Rain, once Wendy's best friend, knows there was more to Wendy than just "party girl." As she struggles to separate the friend she knew from the tangle of gossip and headlines, Rain becomes determined to discover the truth about the murder. Written in a voice at once immediate, riveting, and utterly convincing, Mariah Frederick's mystery brilliantly exposes the cracks in this exclusive New York City world and the teenagers that move within it.

    From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpts-

  • Chapter One DAY ONE

    In my dream, everyone talks except me. It’s a party, and I’m surrounded by voices. I listen. I smile. I nod. No one is actually speaking to me. But still—I want to pretend I’m a part of it.

    Faces spin by in a blur. More people now, and still more. They laugh, tease, point fingers. Their talk becomes a meteor shower of sound, the words coming too fast and hard to understand.

    And maybe because I am silent, I’m the one who sees her. Wendy. She’s standing in a wide-open window. The city stretches vast and dark behind her. Her toes are poised on the sill, her fingertips just reach the edges. There is nothing to hold her as she stares into the crowded room.

    All of a sudden, she wobbles. Her fingers lose their hold. Now it’s all balance. Her arms flail, a foot rises. I am too far away, I can’t reach her in time.

    Stop! I yell. But it comes out an ugly blurted Op! People glance over, embarrassed, go back to their talk.

    She’s falling! This is She alling! Someone giggles. Another girl tries to hide her smile.

    Desperate, I scream, Someone help her! Thomeone elper!

    Now the laughter starts. As everyone swings toward me, pointing and snickering, Wendy falls, but no one sees. I howl, No, no! as I feel my heart fall with her.

    And someone’s knocking at the door.

    I open my eyes, see my mom standing by my bed. Still dazed from the dream, I take in my purple quilt covered in stars, Sullivan the blue whale perched at the foot of my bed, the postcard mosaic on the opposite wall. Faces, because I like faces. Greta Garbo. Edith Piaf. Lucy from Peanuts.

    I struggle up, croak, “Hey, Mom.”

    “Rain, honey, I’m sorry to wake you.”

    I look at the clock. 7:16. We’re visiting my grandmother today, but even so, this is way, way early for Sunday morning. Particularly when I’ve been to a party the night before. Which my mother knows. So what gives?

    Blinking, I say, “It’s fine. What’s up?”

    “Ms. Geller’s on the phone. She’s looking for Wendy.”

    My mom looks at me. What is this?

    I look back. I have no idea.



    As we walk down the hall, my mom asks, “Was Wendy at the party last night?”

    Wendy doesn’t miss parties. “Yeah, she was there.”

    “I didn’t know she was still a close friend.”

    I make a face like, I didn’t either.

    Now we’re at the kitchen. I pick up the phone. “Hi, Ms. Geller.”

    “Rain? I’m so sorry to call this early.” She’s talking fast, a little too loud. Scared, I think, but trying not to be.

    “No problem at all. What can I do?”

    “Well . . .” Big sigh, ends on a shaky laugh. Everything’s okay! “Wendy did not come home last night.”

    Faces start flashing in my head. Snatches of conversation. Wendy surrounded by people, laughing—she’s always laughing.

    I hear Ms. Geller say, “And, uh, I’m just hoping there’s a very rational explanation.” Again, the weird shaky laugh.

    “Oh, absolutely,” I say.

    “You were at Karina Burroughs’s party last night, right?”

    “Yes. Wendy was there. I definitely saw her.”

    “Was she . . . How do I ask this? Was she okay?”

    Wendy using two hands to lift a gallon of vodka, sloshing it over a line of plastic cups. Party time!

    “Um, it was a party. But when I saw...

About the Author-

  • MARIAH FREDERICKS is the author of the bestselling novel The True Meaning of Cleavage, which Meg Cabot called "laugh-out-loud funny and way twisted!" She is also the author of Head Games, Crunch Time, and the In the Cards series. Visit her at www.mariahfredericks.com.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from February 20, 2012
    Fredericks’s haunting psychological thriller is filtered through the watchful eyes of high school student Rain, as she looks into the death of her classmate Wendy, who is found murdered in Central Park the night after a party. Both outsiders, Rain and Wendy used to be close, but by their junior year they have grown apart. Rain, self-conscious about a speech impediment that is the result of a cleft palate, is a reticent observer of life, while Wendy is, on the surface, an attention-seeking, relationship-wrecking party girl from Long Island. Devastated by Wendy’s death and protective of the late teenager’s reputation, which is being trashed in the tabloids and at school, Rain fishes around for information, putting herself at risk. Fredericks’s mystery unfolds gracefully, revealing the rich inner life that Rain is so reluctant to share, as well as a complex portrait of Wendy, the kind of girl people “love to hate.” Rain’s voice provides an authentic portrait of grief and powerlessness, while Fredericks (Crunch Time) offers profound, provocative commentary on what it means to grow up in the age of Facebook. Ages 14–up. Agent: Jodi Reamer, Writers House.

  • Kirkus

    February 1, 2012
    "If Wendy could, she'd scream her killer's name so the whole world heard her... But she can't. Her killer took her voice away. So I have to use mine." When shy Rain's former friend, outgoing Wendy is found strangled to death in a New York City park, at first all Rain can do is grieve and feel regret about their failed friendship. But she soon becomes convinced from classroom gossip about Wendy's last night that the murderer wasn't a homeless vagrant but someone she knew. Wendy had a reputation for going after other girls' boyfriends, and she'd openly announced on Facebook that attached bad boy Nico Phelps would be hers. Did he or his trust-fund girlfriend finally grow tired of her unwelcome advances? Rain is determined to find out, even if it means speaking up, something she rarely does because of a childhood speech impediment. Then a new piece of evidence challenges Rain's initial conclusions, and she is terrified to discover that the murderer is closer than she imagined. Though Rain's amateur investigation doesn't start until the latter part of the novel, and the climax is a bit perfunctory, if gratifying, both Rain and Wendy emerge as fully rounded, flawed characters that teens will recognize and connect with. A satisfying whodunit with enough clues and red herrings to keep mystery fans happy. (Mystery. 14 & up)

    COPYRIGHT(2012) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    May 1, 2012

    Gr 9 Up-Wendy Geller had the reputation of being a wild party girl at her elite private school, but Rain knows that her best friend wanted to fit in and to be popular. She also knows that Wendy earned a lot of enemies by going after popular girls' boyfriends. When the teen turns up dead after a party, Rain is determined to find out what happened. She is also an outcast; the other kids make fun of her speech difficulties due to a cleft palate. But in order to find the murderer, she has to force herself out of the background. Talking to some of the in crowd gives her a new perspective on her classmates, and her search leads her to several suspects. When she discovers the true killer, it nearly tears the school apart. Rain finds her voice and realizes she must speak out for her friend who can no longer speak for herself. The story starts off slowly, gradually building to a surprise ending. Rather than a heavy-handed explanation of Rain's cleft palate, details are sprinkled throughout the story, building readers' understanding of her communication difficulties and readers' compassion for her.-Diana Pierce, Leander High School, TX

    Copyright 2012 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    April 1, 2012
    Grades 8-12 Born with a cleft palate, Rain was cruelly mocked by her classmates at the exclusive Alcott School, but after years of speech therapy, her speech has greatly improved. Even so, in her junior year, not talking is still a habit. One friend, Wendy, encouraged Rain: You're brilliant. So give up the silence. But the teens grew apart after Wendy became the school's wild girl. Then Wendy's strangled body is found in a park, and headlines and school gossip paint her as a slut whose behavior led to her random killing. Rain remembers Wendy's kindness, though, and as she realizes that facts aren't adding up, she recognizes that she is going to have to speak up. Fredericks has constructed a taut, suspenseful mystery with convincing characters whose actions and motives propel the plot. Rain is an unusual, compelling protagonist, a watcher who must step reluctantly out of her comfort zone. Observant readers will likely suspect the culprit before Rain, but they will find as much satisfaction in observing Rain's personal growth as in the solving of the intriguing mystery.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2012, American Library Association.)

  • "As in her previous novels, Fredericks paints a perceptive picture of teens and their struggles with social pressures. Rain is an interesting protagonist to follow as she tries to overcome her own issues in order to defend her friend who can no longer speak for herself. Fredericks creates believable adult characters as well, which is too often not the case in teen novels. The very real mystery of the story is a riveting background for Rain's self-struggle, and the plot twists make this a true page-turner. This book will find a ready audience in fans of Sarah Dessen and Deb Caletti who are looking for something a bit edgier."

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