There are two types of crime fiction the books that explore who did it and the books that explore why the who did it Of the interrogative pronouns, why is forever and always the most compelling Tell me what, tell me who, tell me when, tell me how, but I will not be satisfied until I know why And so, I m condemned to eternal dissatisfaction because that pesky why is often unanswerable Think of all the minute actions you take in the course of a day can you say why you acted in that precise way Maybe But can you say why with certainty Jennifer DuBois tries to discover the whys in the aftermath of a murder committed in the most extreme of circumstances 21 year old American foreign exchange student Lily Hayes is accused of killing fellow and altogetherblond and beautiful American foreign exchange student in Buenos Aires Why did Lily kiss her boyfriend mere hours after discovering her roommate dead Why did Lily do a cartwheel after a grueling police interrogation Why does Lily refuse a lawyer, why does Lily s boyfriend remain free, why does the media analyze her Facebook like an undergrad analyzes Ulysses, why does the prosecutor believe her guilty nearly instantly If you are a true crime buff and followed the Amanda Knox case, you are probably howling to the moon right now because it is these questions that we wanted answered It s fiction but it feels accurate The success of a psychological novel is gauged by the empathy you are compelled to feel for the characters As I read I could see a part of myself in every character the na vet of Lily, the loneliness of her boyfriend Sebastian, the no nonsenseness of her murdered roommate Katy, the resolve of her parents, the vigilante spirit of her prosecutor Ever since the domination of capitalism and Western individualistic ideologies, people prefer to emphasize the differences between humans rather than to discuss our similarities But when reduced to our base materials, we are of the same atoms, the same cells, the same decision motivating chemicals We are of the same species and DuBois excellently captures how alike we are even in such an incredible situation.I don t know if we ever learn why in Cartwheel We learn about the whys we tell ourselves and the whys we tell others, but the true ultimate why Indefinable And that s why mystery novels and crime reporting are so enduring Murder happens to people like us and murder is done by people like us, and when we recognize all of humanity s proximity to that darkness, we must ask we must know why. My road to finding and becoming interested in CARTWHEEL was longIn 2008, I read a book called The Monster of Florence about Il Mostro a serial killer linked to 16 murders which took place in Florence Italy between 1968 and 1985 and also watched numerous documentaries about the killings Douglas Preston was one of the authors of The Monster of Florence, and was also in the forefront of my favorite documentaries on the case I found him very credible and also knew he wrote The Relic which I loved as a movie.I was flipping around the channels on my TV and saw him being interviewed for something unrelated which turned out to be the Amanda Knox case I was curious to why he would be involved, so I left the program on and was instantly hooked As it turns out the prosecutor in the Amanda Knox case is the same man who made Preston s life and many others such a nightmare That man is Giuliano Mignini who I think is the epitome of evil He is a man who sees satanic conspiracies everywhere he looks crazy people have no place in positions of power, and he is a whole lot of crazy I normally stay away from watching, highly publicized trials like Knox s , but because of my prior knowledge, it kind of sucked me in When I read a few articles on Cartwheel a book loosely based on her case I knew I would have to read it Setting and time period Buenos Aires January, February, March, and May Character POVs Lily a pretty, bright, somewhat odd, and naive young girl who s studying abroad when her roommate Katy dies under mysterious circumstances Andrew Father of three girls Janie who died very young , Lily Andrew s favorite and Anna the invisible child Andrew is a professor of international relations, and is divorced from the children s mother Maureen although they are still friends Sebastien Lily s boyfriend Sebastien is a wealthy reclusive young man, who lost his parents in a plane crash He lives next door to the Carrizos Lily and Katy s landlords Eduardo The man in charge of solving Katy s murder Eduardo takes an instant dislike to Lily and her American ways he also sees similarities between Lily and his flighty on again off again wife, Maria which doesn t do Lily any favors.Plot CARTWHEEL is told from four different POV, and flips back and forth the majority of the time from three different time periods January, February, and March The story opens when Andrew Hayes arrives in Argentina to help his daughter Lily, who was studying abroad, but has now been arrested for the murder of her roommate, Katy something Andrew is sure she didn t do Andrew and his ex wife, Maureen, lost their first daughter to a rare disease when she was a toddlerthey can t bare to lose another one.For those who watched the Amanda Knox trial this will be something I am sure that you will want to read For those who didn t there are enough differences from the true life story to keep you wanting to know what happens to Lily in the end Advanced Readers Copy Written With The Riveting Storytelling And Moral Seriousness Of Authors Like Emma Donoghue, Adam Johnson, Ann Patchett, And Curtis Sittenfeld, 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 Didn T Come To Argentina To Hang Out With Other Americans Five Weeks Later, Katy Is Found Brutally Murdered In Their Shared Home, And Lily Is The Prime Suspect But Who Is Lily Hayes It Depends On Who S Asking 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 With Mordant Wit And Keen Emotional Insight, Cartwheel Offers A Prismatic Investigation Of The Ways We Decide What To See And To Believe In One Another And Ourselves Jennifer DuBois S Debut Novel, A Partial History Of Lost Causes, Was A Finalist For The PEN Hemingway Award For Debut Fiction And Was Honored By The National Book Foundation SUnderProgram In Cartwheel, DuBois Delivers A Novel Of Propulsive Psychological Suspense And Rare Moral Nuance Who Is Lily Hayes What Happened To Her Roommate No Two Readers Will Agree Cartwheel Will Keep You Guessing Until The Final Page, And Its Questions About How Much We Really Know About Ourselves Will Linger Well Beyond This book was supposed to be loosely based on the Amanda Knox story Loosely Change the names, change the city, and it was regurgitated from the news practically word for word except, of course for the author s pretentious word choices throughout the book phloem, ingots, scherzo, atavistic, ungulate, syllogism, sybaritic, dictum, mirabile, pentimento, quotidian, caesura, decretory, etc., etc The writing is pretentious and ostentatious faint crepitation of a leaf against the window Oh, dear.It is also hard to believe the author has ever really been in Buenos Aries Her descriptions are of a run down, third world city and Buenos Aries is anything but that She also mentioned that it would be unsafe for a young girl to run in the streets because she would probably be attacked Buenos Aries is a beautiful, modern, European looking city that is clean and perfectly safe in most areas as any American city is One of the characters mentioned that there is probably no metro system It has a metro systemthorough than any US city except for maybe New York.There was no way to read this book without constantly comparing it to the news of Amanda s ordeal in Italy, so that I always knew what would happen on the next page It was like filling in the blanks Total waste of time for me The true story was a better story Yep 5 stars for me, although I ve been putting this book off for months It s gotten some bum reviews, and when I saw it was supposedly a sort of a Lifetime Movie version of the Amanda Knox case the gal who was accused, convicted, then released on charges of murdering her roommate in Italy meh I didn t wanna While I felt bad for the real girl that was murdered and was mildly curious about Amanda Knox, it was not something I followed or paid attention to Call me oblivious, but until reading this novel, I had zero idea why it was entitled Cartwheel But I m so glad I did read this First off, the language here is intellectual and stimulating So many popular books today particularly those with college aged characters have a fifth grade reading level check Accelerated Reader or Scholastic websites you ll see that I was pleased to find a brighter, wittier syntax for once.We get an in depth purview into the feelings and attitude of the prosecuting attorney here, and it makes one wonder how the personal lives of key governmental officials influence those in the legal system The prosecutor here has a gorgeous, younger wife who is erratic and has left him once While he cannot believe that she ever married him in the first place, lovely as she is, she can also be scathing and remote He transfers some of his beliefs about his wife s neuroses or possibly her personality disorder, as suggested by his friends onto the accused young lady While there is direct evidence scads of it that show the crime scene full of DNA of a fellow she worked with, the prosecutor is intent on taking circumstantial evidence to also accuse the young woman named Lily Is punishing the young American woman an unconscious punishment of his strange young wife or is he just doing his job The reader will wonder.The author also lets us walk in the shoes of one of the accused s parents, and we see the life of her boyfriend clinically depressed over the death of his parents some years before We meet her younger sister as well, and between them all, there is a mosaic constructed of their combined perspectives of Lily the accused murderer, supposed wielder of knife Instead of filling in the blanks with a book report here, I will say that each of the characters in the story seem to be locked in to a certain mindset by past events that were beyond their control From the host family whose home is the scene of the girls murder to the younger sister who sees herself as merely an accessory a playmate birthed for the accused Lily, nearly everyone feels that life is a bit unfair.I really enjoy books with psychological insights and with unusual burdens that the story s characters must manage Life is never predictable, and how you or I react to it might vary according to whatever else is going on in our own lives I cannot imagine stabbing anyone to death, but in the eyes of a prosecutor and in the right, albeit bizarre circumstances, who knows what he or she would concoct and convince others of Ignore the correlative story of poor young Meredith Kercher, killed back in 2007 in Italy It is offensive to tie fiction to her tragic death But if you re up for reading how an oddly motivated prosecutor and some unusual circumstances line up, this character study will not disappoint.Wishing peace and acceptance to the families of victims every where And good reading to you all. Cartwheel is very loosely based on the framework of facts from the Amanda Knox case, but that doesn t mean it s a crime thriller or murder mystery It starts off as a deep dive into the psyches of a few important characters Lily Hayes the Knox alter ego , Lily s father Andrew, the prosecutor Eduardo, and Lily s sometime boyfriend Sebastien I assumed Cartwheel would provide no definite answers I was wrong about that, I think and that any conclusions the reader could draw would be based on knowing these characters very, very well, so I welcomed this opportunity It was fascinating for while and then seemed less so all this character development meant the story moved at a snail s pace Plus, the two characters I found most fascinating Katy and Anna never had a chance to speak for themselves, and Eduardo was just unrealistic he belonged in a different novel from the one everyone else was in TheI ponder the book, though, theI realize that just about every character was intriguing in his her own way, including minor characters like Beatriz and the creepy Ignacio That s a difficult thing for a writer to pull off I also cannot deny that as the book neared its end, the feelings of dread and powerlessness it engendered were almost unbearable I m sure this was Jennifer duBois s intent, and that element of the book was wholly successful.I ve now read both of Jennifer duBois s novels, and my overall feeling is that her writing is extremely impressive but hard to love I admired both A Partial History of Lost Causes and Cartwheel but cannot honestly say I enjoyed them Maybe I m not really meant to duBois chooses difficult, heavy subjects, and perhaps the best compliment I can pay is that she definitely does them justice. My rating 2.5 of 5 starsAlthough the themes of this book were loosely inspired by the story of Amanda Knox, this is entirely a work of fiction None of the characters are real None of the events ever happened Nothing in the book should be read as a factual statement about real life events or peopleLoosely inspired would imply that a subject was taken and adapted and molded to fit into a new version of the story Cartwheel is an echo, a reflection and lacks in any true substantive differences from the headlines other than the location Italy vs Argentina I know next to nothing about the Amanda Knox case as I never followed closely along with the court proceedings, however, even with the paltry details I have gathered I see no true differentiation that would warrant the term loosely inspired Cartwheel is at heart a character study but ultimately lacks in creative elements.The writing style was well written yet extremely tedious and I found myself setting my print copy aside and opting for the audio version The excessive use of prose was an obvious intent to place this novel solidly in the realm of literary but it gave the story an overstated and exaggerated feel that didharm than good The story was told from the point of view of several individuals such as Lily s dad, her sister Anna, the prosecutor and Lily s boyfriend Sebastian Each character is extensively detailed but I felt Lily herself was drawn vaguely in a possible attempt to retain the mystery behind her guilt innocence The details from the point of view of the prosecutor were informative but the details regarding his estranged wife felt ultimately unessential and detracted from the story.The ending was the most underwhelming of all as questions remained unanswered and just like the actual Amanda Knox story, we re left to decide whether or not to believe in her innocence The examination of individuals involved was in depth and detailed yet there was an emotional disconnect So many pages were spent delving into the intricate details of Lily s actions and how even minor actions transformed others opinions and perceptions of her It all felt very superfluous compared to the amount of time spent on the trial itself though and the ending was extremely rushed compared to the slower pace we became accustomed to The fact that so much of Lily s case was based on those perceptions vs actual concrete evidence was interesting but made for a very ponderous read The ultimate duplication of a big news story seems solely as a means for the author to showcase her obvious writing skills but only puts a spotlight on her complete lack of creativity. Sure Cartwheel will be compared to the true events in the life and trial of Amanda Knox Jennifer DuBois stated that Cartwheel is inspired by that true crime After finishing Cartwheel I decided to familiaize myself with that news story since I d never really followed it or watched the movies based on Amanda Knox I wasn t constantly comparing the book to the real events which is definitely a plus Because I was seeing this with fresh eyes so to speak, I could appreciate that Jennifer DuBois debut novel Cartwheel means so much .Lily Hayes is studying abroad in Beunos Aires when she is accused of killing her housemate Katy Kellers There s no murder weapon to suggest Lily is guilty of the crime besides cleverly placed red herrings Red herrings such as her impassive appearance following the murder, bloodstained lips, and an irrational cartwheel done while in police holding A few other instances are thrown in about the novel in order to sway the minds of readers one way or the other This is essentially the point How can we know for sure if she did it or not Jennifer DuBois challenges us to put aside what we want to believe and what we should believe to accept the truth that no one will ever actually know what happened that dreadful night unless we were there What or how should a killer act How or should an innocent person behave Is there a diffrence Lily is either so cold that she s able to do a cartwheel bizarre , but not calculated enough to know that she should have asked for a lawyer once it was obvious she was under suspicion By way of richly drawn characters, and a plot that s ripped from the headlines, Jennifer DuBois takes readers on an exploration into the many mysteries in life including human behavior, the complexities fo truth, and what we choose to accept is real in the shades of grey We watch each character struggle with their belief in Lily s innocence or her guilt I was left unable to decide which side of the fence I fell on In ending, Cartwheel is a must read by a promising new voice in the literary world I challenge any reader to choose a side and then end this novel not wantingclosure Closure which is so ambiguous to true life. This book is not a compelling read I feel like the author is too busy showing me she is smart perhaps like Lily instead of attempting to involve me in the story I don t like that At All.Proving to readers that you have an extensive and yet overblown vocabulary with which you are insistent on impressing them isn t good writing, in my opinion It is also difficult to keep the thread of dialogue going as every single character would have these pages long musings involving the past, or their feelings, or the way the light looks filtered through the window, in the middle of conversations I would get to the end of dialogue and have to go back and re read the pages without the ponderings just to wrap my head around what is actually being said I do not think people actually talk in this way, with huge pauses while they go over things in their head and the other person just sits there static, doing nothing until they get done ruminating and deign to speak.This should be a book that I d really enjoy, something of a mystery, but it is told in such a way that I simply don t know any of the characters by the end of the story They are all still murky and nebulous and lacking definition.They are all complex with different problems and world views, but it still adds up to a lot of nothing for me.There are bits that seem to me to be plot holes or else sloppy writing which would seem odd since this author would appear to select each word after excessive consideration and the assistance of a thesaurus.At one point Lily is fired for supposedly causing a scene at her workplace, but she had a discussion in a ladies room, hardly what one would call a scene There was no screaming or yelling, just a discussion which I wouldn t consider a scene, particularly since it took place in aprivate location And that seems careless.There are hints and bits that are simply left swaying in the breeze There are so many viewpoints, but one of them should have been Katy At least to let us know who she was as she didn t seem to be what everyone thought she was For me, there was an undertone of her not actually being very nice or perhaps it would becorrect to say she was hiding her true self while Lily was being herself, but that, as much of the book, went nowhere.Having said all that, and the reason this does just barely get two stars instead of one is that I was still affected by the story and felt such anguish and disgust over what was happening to Lily.Even though the author tried, I never quite understood why the prosecutor would try to implicate someone for a crime they obviously didn t commit It made no sense and the author didn t manage to make it make sense The stuff about his weird ex wife didn t clarify anything for me and made me think he was merely evil.The ending is abrupt with no closure for anyone The trial is barely mentioned I don t even know exactly what story the author was trying to tell me There are far too many points of view and none of them bring much to the story I don t believe I would ever read this author again. Although there s been discussion that this novel is based on the Amanda Knox story, it isaccurate to say that it is inspired by it, and I think that if you go into it with that approach, you won t be comparing for authenticity DuBois has taken many liberties with the familiar Knox chronicle, so that it is a decidedly different story It reads like a mosaic of a family and a haunting labyrinth of mirrors.American exchange student Lily Hayes, on the verge of 21, travels to Buenos Aires to study abroad for a semester She plans to immerse herself in the culture, improve her Spanish, and re define herself As it is, she feels that her parents perceive her as an afterthought Tragedy struck the family before she was born Her parents lost a 2 year old daughter, Janie, to a blood dyscrasia, and now, she and her younger sister, Anna, feel like props in their parents lives, a consolation prize to the sacred and forever 2 year old sister.Lily and her roommate, Katy Kellers, live with a host family, and Lily feels the prickliness of being poorly appraised by the family, and is always getting in trouble with them, due to her guileless na vet She begins a romance with the mercurial neighbor, Sebastien LeCompte, another fall out of tragedy His parents, who were spies, died in a plane crash, leaving him a young millionaire in an old, crumbling house next door to Lily and Katy Five weeks later, Katy is found brutally murdered Lily is the prime suspect These details and events are all revealed very early in the novel, and set up the meat of the story s riddle.The novel unfolds gradually, even leisurely, as DuBois takes the time to pause and dig deeply into each character The chapters alternate between characters and time periods, and the reader sees circumstances and events through a prism of different eyes and sensibilities and prejudices, and through the personal histories of Lily, her parents, the prosecutor, Sebastien, and Anna There is tragedy or fierce rejection abandonment in everyone s past, and how that affects each one s judgment and awareness is germane to the evolution of the story.As Lily says of her parents, Andrew and Maureen, about their divorce when it finally came, after years of existing in a collective state of medicated and vacant life tolerance, they merely drifted off into separate ethers, and that was that And the death of Janie life was shortyes, a terrible thing had happenedlong, long ago and one day everyone would be dead and nobody would get any extra points for having hated life so much Because Andrew and Maureen did hate life, really they were just always very polite about it.CARTWHEEL does not fit the mold of genre crime fiction If you are looking for a pulse pounding, propulsive, cat and mouse thriller, this likely won t satisfy that desire Dubois novel progresses at a dilatory pace it is a psychological character study and a penetrating reflection of what it is to face the impossible odds of life How do you reconcile the immutable past with the unreliable present I don t think that Lily s guilt or innocence is even central to DuBois purpose in writing the story More importantly, it s about Lily as seen through a spectrum of various observers for example, her inappropriate behaviors a cartwheel, a kiss, a cold reaction to murder The fact of Lily s guilt or innocence is not the apogee of this novel at all Rather, it is built on the question of perception How do we perceive others, and how do others perceive us How much of that is determined by how we see ourselves In the hands of the prosecutor, Eduardo Campos, he has the power to force his will on others In the case of Lily, her carelessness and reckless free spiritedness could destroy her life She is powerless against the forces of a foreign country or the capricious media s thirst for tawdry scandal.As Eduardo imagines saying to Lily We must act as though our understanding, as limited as it might be, is the most panoramic and complete understanding possible We must act as though everything in this life counts as though we only have one shot to get things right We must act as though nobody would see the truth if we did not see the truth There s a set of facts and there s forensic evidence, and then there is the truth Do the facts support the truth Or are they two different organisms CARTWHEEL weighs facts that reflect remembrance, and evasions that simulate lies to safeguard the truth This compelling book, throughout, ponders the uncertainty that dwells within us, and contemplates how we ache for merciful hope against the most ruthless odds.
Jennifer duBois is the recipient of a 2013 Whiting Writer s Award and a 2012 National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 award Her debut novel, A Partial History of Lost Causes, was the winner of the California Book Award for First Fiction and the Northern California Book Award for Fiction, and was a finalist for the PEN Hemingway Prize for Debut Fiction Jennifer earned a B.A in political science and p
- 416 pages
- Jennifer duBois
- 01 February 2019 Jennifer duBois