Rain Donovan goes to an exclusive school in New York City and has a mother who is famous as an opera singer. But those perks don’t help her to fit in; she has a cleft palate and for a long time wasn’t very good at pronouncing certain letters and words. So she stays to herself, keeps quiet, and listens. When her onetime close friend, Wendy, who made a point of stealing “mean girls’” boyfriends and acting mostly like a slut at parties, is found dead in a park, Rain finds she can’t just go along with everyone else’s opinions about what happened and move on with her life. She starts quietly asking around to try to put the pieces together about what Wendy really did the night of the party right before she was killed.
The Girl in the Park is part murder mystery, part YA novel about kids who don’t fit in because they’re different. Fredericks crafts a fairly interesting mystery (which I “solved” about halfway through, but no matter) and also does a nice job delving into the familiar territory of how difficult it can be to get through high school if you can’t blend in, let alone be popular. Rain is a believable character who is able to grow because of the events in the story, and even Wendy, who did so much to make herself unlikable, becomes a character the reader feel empathy for and wishes more for.
A pretty good book, particularly nice for a quick read without being simply fluff.
Rated: Moderate, for some mild and moderate language and some crude but brief references to sexual activity, as well as frequent but non-detailed references to teen drinking and sex.