Reviews for Cartwheel : A Novel

Booklist Reviews 2013 September #1
*Starred Review* Lily Hayes, 21, is a study-abroad student in Buenos Aires. Her life seems fairly unexceptional until her roommate, Katy, is brutally murdered, and Lily, charged with the crime, is remanded to prison pending her trial. But is she guilty, and who is Lily, really? To find answers to these questions, the novel is told from multiple points of view--not only that of Lily but also that of her family; of sardonic Sebastien, the boy with whom she has been having an affair; and of the prosecutor in the case. In the process, it raises even more questions. What possible motive could Lily have had? Why, left momentarily alone after her first interrogation, did she turn a cartwheel? And has she, as her sister asserts, always been weird? In her skillful examination of these matters, the author does an excellent job of creating and maintaining a pervasive feeling of foreboding and suspense. Sometimes bleak, duBois' ambitious second novel is an acute psychological study of character that rises to the level of the philosophical, specifically the existential. In this it may not be for every reader, but fans of character-driven literary fiction will welcome its challenges. Though inspired by the Amanda Knox case, Cartwheel is very much its own individual work of the author's creative imagination. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2013 September #2
A young, white American woman studying overseas is accused of murdering her roommate. She is seen through different prisms in this second novel from duBois (A Partial History of Lost Causes, 2012). According to the author, "the themes of this book were loosely inspired by the story of Amanda Knox." The first link is the title, which appropriates Amanda's notorious cartwheel while in police custody in Italy. The cartwheeler here is 20-year-old Lily Hayes. She has come to Buenos Aires, ostensibly, to further her studies. Her roommate is bland, beautiful Katy Kellers from Los Angeles. Their neighbor, who lives by himself in a decaying mansion, is the ridiculously rich American Sebastien LeCompte. The young, lonely, epicene Sebastien, who hides his true self under layers of affectation, belongs in Capote country. He would seem an improbable boyfriend for either of the women, yet he and Lily begin a relationship, with Lily calling the shots. The horror comes one night when Lily finds Katy stabbed to death. The state investigator, Eduardo Campos, is convinced of Lily's guilt. The novel begins with Lily's professor father, Andrew, visiting her in a holding cell. It cycles through four viewpoints (Andrew, Lily, Sebastien, Eduardo) and moves between the buildup to the murder and its aftermath. The author may have been hoping to combine a crime novel with a novel of character. Neither one works. The awkward construction means suspense is minimal. Attempts to cannibalize Amanda's story, such as Lily's fingering of her black boss at the club where she worked weekends, fall flat. Lily herself is a not very interesting addition to those thousands of young Americans looking to spread their wings in an exotic locale. Readers are meant to presume her innocence while retaining a tiny sliver of doubt, reinforced by that ballyhooed, albeit irrelevant, cartwheel. So what really went down? The dubious confession of the killer is the only clue. A tangled tale that leaves protagonist Lily, and the crime, unilluminated. Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews 2013 September #2

Bound for Buenos Aires, Prof. Andrew Hayes is on his way to try to help save his daughter Lily from life in a foreign prison. Just arrested for the murder of her foreign exchange roommate, Lily has declined having a public defender present during questioning and seems blithely unaware of her precarious legal standing. As the days surrounding the murder are unveiled, Lily's actions are viewed through the eyes of the media, her father, her boyfriend, and the prosecutor, as well as through her own eyes. Doubts arise as to whether she is innocent of this hideous crime. VERDICT With a nod to the real life case of Amanda Knox, duBois's (A Partial History of Lost Causes) novel is a character study in the oblivious young adult abroad and a family in crisis mode. While her book is cleverly written, duBois never builds any sympathy for her characters, taking a detached clinical view rather than engaging the emotions. [See Prepub Alert, 6/24/13.]--Joy Gunn, Paseo Verde Lib., Henderson, NV

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 July #2

Taking themes that were "loosely inspired by the story of Amanda Knox," Cartwheel follows American exchange student Lily Hayes, who has been accused of murdering her roommate, Katy Kellers, in Argentina. Like Knox, Lily's troublesome lack of anguish, as reportedly evidenced by canoodling with her boyfriend the day after the murder, causes an uproar in the media. Like Knox, Lily seems to have been completely normal--so normal, in fact, that her disbelief at her predicament leads to some bad choices. While duBois (A Partial History of Lost Causes) clearly has the authorial chops to illustrate complex characters, Cartwheel remains flat partly because she seems more focused on avoiding right answers or easy sympathy than creating characters who are more than moral specimens. While muddying the waters of right and wrong is almost always a valiant cause in literature, this novel reads more like an intellectual exercise in examining all the different angles rather than an emotional engagement with human beings. Agent: Henry Dunow, Dunow, Carlson & Lerner. (Oct. 1)

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