I became a fan of Sheinmel last year, so I snagged a few of her paperbacks, and have been working my way through her back catalog. I had more issues with this book than some of her other work because I didn’t care for the main character, Ellie. I usually can deal with unlikeable characters, but there were things about Ellie that just grated on me. Those things had nothing to do with her claustrophobia but with her constant “poor me” state. Ellie was a flat character who was only her claustrophobia when she could have been so much more. She had a less than stellar mother who made Ellie’s illness her own fault. I would have liked her roommate Sam, but he is another flat character who is more of a supporting character than anything.
I also had a few continuity issues. For example, Ellie says she hadn’t talked to Eliza’s father since she was 7, but she spoke to him when Eliza moved into the dorm. The drama towards the end felt contrived. It lasted for two paragraphs.
Aside from that, I always appreciate that Sheinmel includes mental health in her books, and she researches what she’s writing about. The slow unveiling of Eliza’s chapters helped to tell the complete story and was thoughtfully done.
About the Book:
When Eliza Hart, the most popular girl at Ventana Ranch boarding school, is found dead, Ellie Sokoloff is determined to figure out what happened to her. After all, Eliza was Ellie’s childhood best friend.
Never mind that ever since Ellie arrived at school Eliza has spread terrible rumors about her, calling her a liar and a stalker, when all Ellie wanted to do was rekindle their old friendship. Or that Ellie’s claustrophobia limits where she can go and what she can do. Or that Ellie’s suitemate, Sam, is the only one who will help her . . . because to everyone else, Ellie looks like the top suspect.
Can Ellie clear her name and solve the mystery behind Eliza’s death? Her hunt for the truth will uncover secrets she never imagined, sending her deep into her own memories of her childhood with Eliza Hart.