Thursday, May 26, 2016

ARC Review: The Underdogs by Sarah Hammel

The Underdogs
Author: Sara Hammel
Publication: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (May 31, 2016)

Description: Who killed Annabel Harper?

When a popular teen beauty’s body is discovered by the pool at an elite tennis club, the regulars are shocked―especially twelve-year-old Evie and her best friend, Chelsea. While everyone else is haunted by the teen’s death, Evie and Chelsea jump on the case, dogging the footsteps of the lead detective as he investigates. As temperatures soar over the summer, tensions rise, fingers are pointed, and a heroic act sets in motion a chain of events readers will never see coming.

In the tradition of The Westing Game comes this debut mystery with a breathtaking twist.

My Thoughts: Well, we were told twice in the book description that a twist was coming. Even so, this twist took me by surprise and had me looking back through the book for clues.

It begins with a murder. Popular teen Annabel Harper is found dead by the pool of the athletic club. Twelve-year-old Evie and her friend Chelsea hang out at the club every day. Chelsea's mom mans the reception desk and Evie's dad is one of the teaching tennis pros. Both are easily overlooked. Chelsea is accepted by everyone but Evie has a harder time. Her mom dropped her off like an unwanted parcel with the father who didn't know she existed. He is at a loss about what to do with her. His parenting style seems to be a combination of benign neglect spiced with careless, hurtful remarks. Evie is a little overweight and self-conscious about it. It doesn't help that one of the tennis campers has made her his victim of choice for constant harassment.

When Annabel is murdered, Evie and Chelsea begin to follow the detective around and spend a lot of time listening in on conversations they shouldn't be hearing. There are plenty of suspects. Is it the jealous girl who has lost numerous boys to Annabel? Is it one of Annabel's admirers? The lifeguard who has watched her from afar? One of the two boys who are best friends and elite tennis players whose friendship is threatened when they both fall for her?

Chelsea is the narrator of the story and we gather bits and pieces of her story. She has recently been adopted after escaping a very abusive situation - a situation that has left her with physical injuries that are permanent. Her abusers have never been caught. But despite her past, she is happy with her new mother and has a surprisingly upbeat attitude. Her main worries are for her friend Evie.

This story was exciting and fast-paced. And that final twist... Read it and find out!

Favorite Quote:
The expression on Patrick's face as he watched Annabel disappear into the locker room was indescribable, but I will try: picture love, plus anger, plus longing, plus sadness, plus ... a dash of hatred. In that order.
I got this ARC from NetGalley.  You can buy your copy here.

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