Nov 1, 2013

Book Review: CARTWHEEL by Jennifer DuBois

My comments: I was eager to see how this book would conform to the real life story of Amanda Knox, who was accused of complicity in the murder of her student roommate in Italy. The author acknowledges that Cartwheel is "loosely inspired" by the Knox case but states that none of the characters are real and that her book should not be seen as statements about the real life case.

In any event, the book's accused Lily Hayes is as shadowy and vague a figure as the real life character when it comes to blame or motive or guilt. Written with extraordinary depth, the novel probes into the minds of all the people involved in the murder investigation of exchange student Kathy Kellers - Lily the accused, her parents, the Buenos Aires investigator, and Lily's boyfriend. An excellent psychological novel of suspense whose players will keep you engrossed and guessing.

Title: Cartwheel: A Novel by Jennifer DuBois
Published September 24, 2013; Random House
Genre: psychological suspense
Objective rating: 4.5/5

Synopsis: "Cartwheel is a suspenseful and haunting novel of an American foreign exchange student arrested for murder, and a father trying to hold his family together.

 When Lily Hayes arrives in Buenos Aires for her semester abroad, she is enchanted by everything she encounters: the colorful buildings, the street food, the handsome, elusive man next door. Her studious roommate Katy is a bit of a bore, but Lily did not come to Argentina to hang out with other Americans. Five weeks later, Katy is found brutally murdered in their shared home, and Lily is a suspect.

As the case takes shape—revealing deceptions, secrets, and suspicious DNA—Lily appears alternately sinister and guileless through the eyes of those around her: the media, her family, the man who loves her and the man who seeks her conviction.

No two readers will agree who Lily is and what happened to her roommate. Cartwheel will keep you guessing until the final page, and its questions about how well we really know ourselves will linger well beyond." (publisher)

Jennifer duBois’s A Partial History of Lost Causes was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction, winner of the California Book Award for First Fiction and the Northern California Book Award for Fiction, and O: The Oprah Magazine chose it as one of the ten best books of the year. DuBois was also named one of the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 authors. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, duBois recently completed a Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University. She lives in Texas. Visit her at

For more reviews of Cartwheel, visit the book tour schedule hosted by TLC Book Tours. Thanks to TLC and the publisher for providing a review ARC of this book. 

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  1. This sounds engrossing and haunting, Harvee!

  2. Harvee,
    Enjoyed your blog, as usual. "Cartwheel" sounds like a book I'd be interested in and will add it to my list.
    I'm having a good day but the side effects of the chemotherapy meds make the day uncomfortable at times.
    Thanks for stopping by at my blog, please stop back again soon.

  3. I'm just reading this one! Can't wait to see how it turns out. Hoping to interview Jennifer... I thought your review was very good!

  4. It guess that it is fairly common, though it still seems unusual to me, to use real life current events as plot elements in fiction. I guess that I worry that folks will draw conclusions about the real life case based on the fiction. Either way this sounds interesting.

  5. I passed on this one, but now I am a bit curious.

  6. I remember this case and this book sounds like an interesting one.


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