Rain, the compelling narrator if Mariah Fredericks’ YA mystery, The Girl in the Park, attends the prestigious Alcott School in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. “At our school,” she says. “everybody is the child of a somebody.” Rain’s somebody is her mom, an opera singer and “if you’re into opera, you probably know her.”
Rain is a watcher, a listener. Mostly it’s because she was born with a cleft palate, and although speech therapy has smoothed out some of the T’s and S’s, Rain’s still self-conscious. She hates how she sounds, “mushmouthed and nasal.” That is, until Wendy starts school and tells her “Big deal. Okay, maybe you sound a little funny. But you need to forget about that and speak up girl.”
Wendy is larger than life. Although she’s rich, she comes from Long Island and doesn’t have the right kind of money or pedigree. The students at Alcott are snobbish and clique-ish, but that doesn’t stop Wendy from trying to make inroads. It’s when Rain tells her that she’s approaching it all wrong that the two girls become friends.
We only ever really see Wendy through Rain’s eyes because when the novel begins, Rain discovers that her friend has been found dead in Central Park. At this point, Rain and Wendy were friendly but no longer really friends. Wendy’s blatant disregard for the prep school rules and her reputation as a “skank” have caused Rain to distance herself from the girl who once told her that “You. Other the other hand. Listen. And you think. So when you do speak? You’re brilliant. So, give up the silence, okay”
Rain can’t stand the thought that something so horrible has happened to Wendy. Worse, the night it happened Rain was at the same party as Wendy and she feels she may have seen something that could help the police – she just doesn’t know what it is.
The Girl in the Park is a fast-paced mystery with enough suspects to keep readers engaged and guessing whodunit. It’s also a story that peers into the nasty, and sometimes heartbreaking, world of teenagers. I couldn’t put it down.