This is the story that Evie can’t bear to speak a word of. Actually, this story was supposed to be about her. How she had no friends; hadn’t made one in years. A story about her crush on college dropout Jonah Luks and how she stretches the truth to her classmates about their relationship.
That’s not the story you’re going to find in these pages, however; because when Evie’s childhood friend is found murdered in the woods, a little white lie at the victim’s funeral changes Evie’s life forever. She is suddenly cast into an odd friendship with the dead girl’s father and best friend that soon leads to Evie’s involvement in tracking down a murderer.
I’m not sure how to get started on my review of The Space Between Trees by Katie Williams because I can’t decide exactly how I feel about it. It’s a well-written piece that keeps you turning the pages, but it is disturbing in spades.
Evie is a loner who has a crush on an older boy. She dawdles during her paper route just to get a chance to talk with Jonah Luks, who has dropped out of college and works cleaning up dead animals from the woods for Jefferson Wildlife Control. When Jonah discovers the body of Elizabeth (known to everyone as Zabet) in the woods, her relationship with Jonah becomes even stranger.
While attending Zabet’s funeral, she stumbles upon the dead girl’s father and pretends she was best friends with her. Suddenly the girl’s father is inviting Evie over for supper to learn more about his daughter and her friends. Problem is, Hadley, Zabet’s real best friend isn’t too thrilled about it. Evie is pulled into a toxic friendship with Hadley, which leads to Hadley deciding the police are inept and the two girls need to investigate Zabet’s murder and figure out who killed her.
In some ways, The Space Between Trees reminds me of Beautiful Malice by Rebecca James. The latter is a psychological thriller that also involves a toxic friendship. The difference, though, is that James’ book is geared toward adults. The content was perhaps even more disturbing, but I found that to be a page-turner as well. I’m not certain this type of book is the best choice for the YA market.
The Space Between Trees is not really a murder mystery, in my mind, because the friendship between Hadley and Evie begins to develop prior to Hadley’s decision that they need to track down Zabet’s murderer. While some of the girls’ actions are driven by uncovering what happened to Zabet, primarily their developing friendship is what propels the story forward. Figuring out who murdered Zabet is just one aspect of that friendship. Besides, the identity of the killer really isn’t all that important to the storyline.
What Katie Williams did very well in this novel is create main characters who weren’t the most popular in school or the most beautiful girls to bring this story to life. In addition, though Hadley is not a very likeable character most of the time, the way in which Williams develops her storyline, the details she provides to the reader about Hadley’s life, as seen through Evie’s eyes, make her a sympathetic character versus one you could possibly despise.
I don’t believe this is a book that will relate to everyone, but it does a good job of showing how one’s actions can impact people outside of themselves. It’s filled with teenage angst, which will be popular with certain markets. I tend to think of this book as Dawson’s Creek meets Silence of the Lambs.
Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Bookmark & Share