“Fans of Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl will devour this fast-paced story.”—InStyle
"Readers drawn to this compelling psychological thriller because of its shared elements with Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl (2012) will be pleasantly surprised to discover that Mejia’s confident storytelling pulls those themes into an altogether different exploration of manipulation and identity.” —Booklist (starred review)
2017’s Best Fiction Books —Bustle
12 Books Gone Girl Fans Should Have on Their Wish List —BookBub
No one knows who she really is…
Hattie Hoffman has spent her whole life playing many parts: the good student, the good daughter, the good girlfriend. But Hattie wants something more, something bigger, and ultimately something that turns out to be exceedingly dangerous. When she’s found brutally stabbed to death, the tragedy rips right through the fabric of her small-town community.
It soon comes to light that Hattie was engaged in a highly compromising and potentially explosive secret online relationship. The question is: Did anyone else know? And to what lengths might they have gone to end it? Hattie’s boyfriend seems distraught over her death, but had he fallen so deeply in love with her that she had become an obsession? Or did Hattie’s impulsive, daredevil nature simply put her in the wrong place at the wrong time, leading her to a violent death at the hands of a stranger?
Full of twists and turns, Everything You Want Me to Be reconstructs a year in the life of a dangerously mesmerizing young woman, during which a small town’s darkest secrets come to the forefront…and she inches closer and closer to death.
Evocative and razor-sharp, Everything You Want Me to Be challenges you to test the lines between innocence and culpability, identity and deception. Does love lead to self-discovery—or destruction?
This reading group guide for Everything You Want Me to Beincludes discussion questions and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book
Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. Mindy Mejia grew up in Minnesota and knows its landscape well. How do her descriptions of the natural world and the change of seasons reflect the internal states of the characters?
2. Although the “curse of Macbeth” didn’t kill Hattie, as her classmate suggests early on, the play’s themes, such as the price of unchecked ambition and the difference between appearance and reality, do run throughout Mindy Mejia’s novel. How do the play’s themes resonate in the book?
3. Macbeth isn’t the only famous work woven into Everything You Want Me to Be. Hattie and Peter originally bond over Jane Eyre, which is similarly focused on hidden identities, deception, and unconventional women. How is Hattie similar to Jane? Do you think she has anything in common with Bertha Mason?
4. In what ways does Hattie move from an affinity with Jane at the beginning of the book to an affinity with Lady Macbeth at the end?
5. One of the book’s themes is identity and self-actualization. Compare and contrast Hattie and Mary in terms of the evolution of their identities and ambitions.
6. A taboo is something that is banned for reasons of morality or taste, or that which constitutes an unacceptable level of risk. One of the most significant relationships in the book is a taboo relationship. Discuss the typical reasons this type of relationship is considered transgressive and whether those reasons hold true here.
7. Hattie thinks of herself as more mature and sophisticated than her peers (and most adults in her hometown), but when and how is her naiveté revealed?
8. How is obsession portrayed throughout the novel? In particular, discuss the obsessions of the three narrators, Hattie, Peter, and Del.
9. Our three main characters each hold a certain kind of power, whether formally recognized, such as Del’s job, or simply understood, like Hattie’s popularity. Analyze what types of power each of them wields and where the power comes from. How do they use their power and influence in positive ways? In negative ways?
10. Describe each member of the Hoffman family. How are they similar? In what ways do their personalities diverge? How have Hattie’s conflicting personas, the good daughter and the rebel, been shaped by her family?
11. Discuss Mary and Peter’s relationship. How have their personalities, and not just their circumstances, led them to this rupture in their marriage?
12. Toward the end of the novel, Del meditates on the justice of Hattie’s case. “There was no time to think it through. No time to wonder about the morality of a man’s actions, whether he owed more to a friend or to the law and the country that depended on that law, no time to sift through the dozens of questions that would haunt me in the middle of the night for years to come . . . feeling like I had no right to wear a badge, that I had failed the institution I’d given my life to and not even knowing what that meant.” What roles do loyalty and duty play in Everything You Want Me to Be? How do they positively and negatively affect the characters?
13. If Hattie hadn’t been killed, what do you think her future would have been?
14. There are several suspects in Hattie’s murder, with a significant twist at the end. Were you shocked by who actually killed her and how it happened?
15. There are many sacrifices made in the name of love, whether familial love, romantic love, or love for an idea or goal. Which of the sacrifices do you think are truly made in the spirit of love, and which do the characters simply think are made in its name? Of the latter, what do you think the real motivating force is?
16. When Peter asks Hattie why she’s dating Tommy, she tells him it’s “just acting” (173). He recounts, “I took a step closer to myself, compelling beyond reason toward this girl who kept shedding masks like a matryoshka doll, each one more audacious than the last, a psychological striptease that racked me with the need to tear her apart until I found out who or what she was inside” (173). While most teenagers’ personalities fluctuate frequently, Hattie’s personas are more extreme, and certainly more destructive. Consider the title: did Hattie live up to its promise? Do you think anyone fully knew Hattie?
Enhance Your Book Club
1. Consider watching a live or filmed production of Macbeth with your book club. Discuss what parallels you see between the book’s main characters and the play’s. How does your viewing of the play enrich your understanding of the novel?
2. Read another mystery set in the Midwest, such as William Kent Krueger’s Iron Lake, and discuss how the personality of the Midwest is depicted in these novels. What about the people, landscape, and traditions seem to most intrigue Mindy Mejia and the other author who you’ve chosen?
3. To learn more about Mindy Mejia, read more about her other writings, and connect with her online, visit her official website at mindymejia.com.
Mindy Mejia received her MFA from Hamline University. Her debut novel, The Dragon Keeper, was published by Ashland Creek Press in 2012. She lives in the Twin Cities with her husband and two children. She is the author of Everything You Want Me to Be and Leave No Trace.
"A suspenseful and heart-wrenching thriller about ambition, obsession, and what happens when the lies we tell about ourselves become indistinguishable from the truth."
– Robin Wasserman, author of GIRLS ON FIRE
"For fans of Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train, and Big Little Lies."
– Book Riot
"An excellent book full of surprises, fans will be thrilled to find that this is one tale that falls into that very slim category of rare 'one-day' reads."
– Suspense Magazine
"Engaging . . . Readers will look forward to further work from this talented author."
– Publishers Weekly
"Readers will surely find this unsettling, character-driven descent into secret desires and hidden faces everything they wanted to see from a talented writer and then some."
– Shelf Awareness
"Twisty . . . a page-turner, and compelling."
– Minneapolis Star-Tribune
"A haunting story with suffocating tension that will crawl deep beneath your skin without you realizing until it's over. Highly recommended to the fans of a well done psychological thriller; I'm not sure if I should consider this one of my top reads of 2016 or 2017—maybe both!"
– The Suspense is Thrilling Me
"Everything You Want Me to Be is a fast read with a bright, clean style. The ending should launch some ferocious debates."
– New York Journal of Books
“As the suspense piles up with each passing page, readers will race to the finish line where Mindy Mejia saves her best twist for the end. Everything You Want Me To Be is a mesmerizing psychological thriller that is, in fact, everything you want it to be.”
– The Real Book Spy
"A story of misplaced affection, human frailties and ferocities, and the dark corners that all of those pinwheel emotions can take us to in the name of love."
– Generation G Books
“In all honesty this is one of the best books I’ve read all year of any genre.”
– Goodreads, 5 Stars
“Absolutely the number one book for 2017 . . . Trust me, you don’t want to miss this amazing story.”
– Goodreads, 5 Stars
“I loved this book! I now understand the term book crack! This book was utterly addicting.”
– Goodreads, 5 Stars
“I read this book in less than 5 hours which must give you a clue how fast paced & fantastic of a read it is! So many emotions, thoughts, characters, ideas all rolled up into one fascinating book! Loved it!”
– Goodreads, 5 Stars
“WOW. Just WOW. The cover lured me in, but the story kept me up all night and into the morning . . . Tremendous, and 5 stars, easy.”
“A haunting story with suffocating tension . . . Highly recommended to the fans of a well done psychological thriller; I’m not sure if I should consider this one of my top reads of 2016 or 2017—or maybe both!”
“Start 2017 with this five star read.”
“If you’re looking for the next captivating thriller that everyone will be comparing to Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train, this is it!”
“Mindy is a master at keeping you riveted to your seat with an ending that is impossible to predict. Totally believable characters and a great mystery make this a thriller you won’t want to miss!”
“I finished Everything You Want Me to Be well over two weeks ago and have been tongue-tied as to accurately describe just how much I LOVE this book.”
“SO good. So dark and twisty with such nuanced characters and flexible definitions of good, evil, and passion.”
“What a wonderful read . . . Challenging and entertaining and very, very difficult to put down.”
"This book was perfection . . . you just can't look away . . . ALL THE STARS!"
– NetGalley, 5 Stars
"This story is also an expertly-crafted whodunit, a mystery that grips the reader and won't let go . . . Brilliantly plotted, perfectly executed, this novel rates 5 1/2 stars."
"I have not read anything as addicting in a very long time."
– NetGalley, 5 Stars
"A one sitting read with a completely thrilling twist! Highly recommend!"
– Goodreads, 5 Stars
"Once I reached the 60% mark in this book, give or take a percentage point or two, there was no way I was going to stop until I reached the end. Yeah, folks, it's that good."
– NetGalley, 5 Stars
"Mejia's novel is full of suspense, intrigue and twists at every turn. The reader is transported into three different worlds as they try to figure out who committed a horrendous crime. Told from three different perspectives, this is a fantastic read that wastes no time in drawing the reader into the story."
– RT Book Reviews
"5 out of 5 stars . . . Completely startling thriller . . . an unputdownable whodunit."
– Lollipops Books
"Take Gone Girl with Girl on the Train and mix in a little teen angst from Dare You by Megan Abbott and you have this one wrapped up in a nutshell."
– Fluff, Smut, & Murder
"Wow, What a roller coaster ride this one was! I'm really excited about this book and I predict that it will be a standout in 2017. . . The ending is explosive, shocking and completely unpredictable and oh so satisfying. Rating: 5/5."
"Holy cow! What a book! Easily one of my top 5 books this year! You will not be able to put this one down."
– LaLa Life
"EVERYTHING YOU WANT ME TO BE is in all sense of the word a page-turner. I couldn't put this book down. If it wasn't for work and personal obligations, I would have read this book from start to finish without eating."
– Reading Books Like A Boss Blog
"This is damn good . . . . This is definitely one to check out if you're into character-driven mystery stories or if you are in the mood for a psychologically-rich story with lots of seeeecrets."
– Goodreads, 4 Stars
"Everything You Want Me to Be (Emily Bestler Books) by Mindy Mejia grabbed me by the throat and didn’t let go until I finished the book. It was the quickest three-hundred-plus pages I think I’ve ever read!"
– Write On Cindy
"Terrific . . . If even a 10th of the thrillers published in 2017 are as good as EVERYTHING YOU WANT ME TO BE, we're in for some great reading."
– Pioneer Press
"Overall, EVERYTHING YOU WANT ME TO BE is an addicting page-turning tale about innocence, culpability, and manipulation. It’s a surprisingly quick read with a share of twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the final chapters."