This book review is coming at a good time since Jessica Goodman's latest novel, "The Counselors" will be out in a few weeks. This was the first novel I've read by Goodman and it did not disappoint. I've been wanting to read "They Wish They Were Us" for a long time and finally got around to it a little over a month ago, and it was everything and more.

It was a really nice mix of YA (I do think it is classified as YA but felt more mature), Gossip Girl and true crime. It felt very reminiscent of "The Good Girl's Guide to Murder" which is similar to another book I recently read and will review soon.

I enjoyed this book so much that I immediately purchased Goodman's 2nd novel, "They'll Never Catch Us"  but I am still holding out hope for a sequel to this novel. 

Let's get into the review...

Publisher's Summary

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 vows to find out, but digging deeper could mean putting her friendships, and her future, in jeopardy.

My Thoughts

Gold Coast is the perfect depiction of a wealthy Long Island town, in my New York native opinion. It felt very much like a place that could exist out on the island and it was interesting to see it play out.

As I mentioned above, this had a very Gossip girl-esque vibe to it, mixed with a dash of Pretty Little Liars since a bunch of teenagers were trying to figure out the murder of one of their own. Throughout the entirety of the novel, you knew something was not quite right. Why would a young boy confess to murder? Why would he be maintaining his innocence despite his confession? Why was no one willing to look closely at the case?

With all of that being said, Jill is the one who takes charge, much to her dismay, and tries to find out the truth about her best friend.

Shaila was very reminiscent of Ali from Pretty Little Liars and all the other 'good villains' in pop culture. She had an 'it girl air about her but was nice enough to those around her that they viewed her as their god. It's always interesting when characters are positioned that way because I don't think I've ever met someone in real life who has that effect on me. 

I'm getting off track here... 

The story was excellent; it kept me interested, on my toes, and was perfectly paced. There wasn't a ton of filler but a subplot or two never hurt. Jill's friendship with the other players, especially Adam who has since graduated made for a lot of angst which I love. 

It was slightly predictable but truthfully I didn't mind because getting to the reveal was half the fun. The characters had great chemistry and were all pretty likable (even if they weren't supposed to be) and the themes woven throughout the book were excellent; friendship, peer pressure, societal differences, young love, and power imbalances, it made for a very fun, interesting read.

The ending, after the climax, I thought was super sweet. It tied everything together nicely and you saw people come together in a way that wasn't there before. I enjoyed it so much.

Jessica Goodman has a new reader in me and I can't wait to continue this journey with her!

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