Book Review: “They Wish They Were Us”

They Wish They Were Us” by Jessica Goodman

Source: PenguinTeen in exchange for an honest review

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Mystery


In Gold Coast, Long Island, everything from the expensive downtown shops to the manicured beaches, to the pressed uniforms of Jill Newman and her friends, looks perfect. But as Jill found out three years ago, nothing is as it seems.

Freshman year Jill’s best friend, the brilliant, dazzling Shaila Arnold, was killed by her boyfriend. After that dark night on the beach, Graham confessed, the case was closed, and Jill tried to move on.

Now, it’s Jill’s senior year and she’s determined to make it her best yet. After all, she’s a senior and a Player–a member of Gold Coast Prep’s exclusive, not-so-secret secret society. Senior Players have the best parties, highest grades and the admiration of the entire school. This is going to be Jill’s year. She’s sure of it.

But when Jill starts getting texts proclaiming Graham’s innocence, her dreams of the perfect senior year start to crumble. If Graham didn’t kill Shaila, who did? Jill is vows to find out, but digging deeper could mean putting her friendships, and her future, in jeopardy.

They Wish They Were Us reminds me how much I hated high school. Sure, I never was a part of a group like the Players. I never went to a school like Gold Coast Prep. Goodman was able to perfectly set up the stage so I felt like a student at Gold Coast Prep and was able to feel the pressure of what was at stake. Heck, there were parts where I felt my chest constrict because I could relate the anxiety of trying and trying and trying and still not feeling like it’s enough. I love being able to slip into a book like that.

The lies, secrets, and deceit are deliciously juicy to watch play out. Maybe it’s this world is so far removed from anything I’ve ever know but I did have to suspend quite a bit of disbelief for things to play out. I’m sure rich kids get away with a lot but maybe not quite this much. That said it was still fun to read about this world and the scandalous things going on.

My biggest complaint is the story focused too much on drama involving the Players. I was really hoping for a bigger focus on the murder mystery. Yes, the later half of the book shifts the focus to more of a mystery but it’s not quite enough for my taste. Plus the summary puts a pretty heavy emphasis on the mystery.

Recommended more for fans of Gossip Girl than One of Us Is Lying.

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