hbatHanging by a Thread by Sophie Littlefield
Release Date: September 11, 2012
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Source: NetGalley
Rating: starstarstarblank_starblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Summer is the best part of the year in Winston, California, and the Fourth of July is the highlight of the season. But the perfect town Clare remembers has changed, and everyone is praying that this summer will be different from the last two—that this year’s Fourth of July festival won’t see one of their own vanish without a trace, leaving no leads and no suspects. The media are in a frenzy predicting a third disappearance, but the town depends on tourist dollars, so the residents of Winston are trying desperately to pretend nothing’s wrong.

And they’re not the only ones hiding something.

Clare, a seamstress who redesigns vintage clothing, has been blessed—or perhaps cursed—with a gift: she can see people’s pasts when she touches their clothes. When she stumbles across a denim jacket that once belonged to Amanda Stavros, last year’s Fourth of July victim, Clare sees her perfect town begin to come apart at the seams.

In a town where appearance means everything, how deep beneath the surface will Clare dig to uncover a murderer?

I liked this one a lot more than I thought I would. I like fashion, but fashion to me is more like Forever 21 and Macy’s as opposed to sewing machines and thrift stores. Clare was interesting and so was her power, even though I couldn’t remember her name for the first third of the novel. The mystery was really engaging and I found myself sucked right into this story. I like a popular girl with a secret, and I like a female protag with female friends. I guessed a lot of things, but I still found myself intrigued by the mystery (which I didn’t get until the end) and even by the romance, a little. There were some problems, in my opinion, with the way Clare thought about Jack, but all in all, this one was the right amount of fun mixed with the right amount of mystery. I liked it a lot, actually, and think if you want a quick read with a mystery and slight paranormal activity, it wouldn’t hurt to pick this one up.

There are mysteries everywhere in Winston, but the top two are the mysterious deaths of Dillon Granger and Amanda Stavros. That’s the overarching mystery in this novel, the one Clare concentrates all her psychometry on to solve. There’s also the mystery of Rachel, Clare’s best friend, and why she parties so much, why she didn’t get into the prestigious Golden Key in ninth grade, and what secrets she might be keeping from Clare. I liked Clare and Rachel’s relationship, along with the peripheral girls, Victoria and Giselle. Too many books follow heroines who have no platonic friends and spend all their time with their romantic interest. Another mystery in Winston is why Clare’s mother is so angry with Clare’s grandmother, but this one is kind of an easy one. Even Clare admits she knew all along, but didn’t want to admit it to herself.

And then there’s Jack. Jack is fine. He’s a teenage guy who’s gone through a lot, as they do in YA, and he has some anger issues. I liked their little romance for the most part, especially when Clare reveals her gift to him. That scene was very sweet. My main problem with the Jack/Clare pairing was how very aware Clare was of Jack’s anger, of the possibility of Jack causing violence, but she thinks “he’d never do that to me.” I know it’s supposed to be intuitive, that she just knows he’s safe to her, but that is classic victim-abuser thinking. How many articles in women’s magazines are about women being abused, when they started out thinking “he loves me, he’d never do that to me.” They’re almost always wrong when they think that, and I don’t think we should perpetuate this kind of thing with teens. It’s kind of scary. So that’s why this book got three stars instead of four.

Despite my misgivings, as I mentioned above I still liked this one. It was quick and interesting, with Clare confronting a lot of issues teens might face (moving, new school, trying to fit in with new friends, dealing with partying, friends keeping secrets, family interaction, etc). As I said, I liked Clare’s friendships, but I also liked how her relationship with her mother grew over the course of the novel. It was nice to see a parent who wasn’t completely absent in a YA novel. So I think this one is one to read, especially for all the female bonding happening throughout.