2014 · 4 stars · mystery · thriller · ya

No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale

Title: No One Else Can Have You
Author: Kathleen Hale
Pub. Date: January 7, 2014
Source: e-ARC via EW & ARC via publisher (thank you, HarperTeen!)
Summary: Small towns are nothing if not friendly. Friendship, Wisconsin (population: 689 688) is no different. Around here, everyone wears a smile. And no one ever locks their doors. Until, that is, high school sweetheart Ruth Fried is found murdered. Strung up like a scarecrow in the middle of a cornfield.

Unfortunately, Friendship’s police are more adept at looking for lost pets than catching killers. So Ruth’s best friend, Kippy Bushman, armed with only her tenacious Midwestern spirit and Ruth’s secret diary (which Ruth’s mother had asked her to read in order to redact any, you know, sex parts), sets out to find the murderer. But in a quiet town like Friendship—where no one is a suspect—anyone could be the killer.
Genre: YA, Mystery

I didn’t read No One Else Can Have You until just a few days before its release partly because I was a little hesitant to begin. Reviews started coming out and they weren’t good. At all. There were even a few bloggers who share a very similar taste in books with me that couldn’t stand this debut – some couldn’t even finish it! Despite the reviews declaring this novel weird and odd I was still curious. Anyone who follows Kathleen on twitter can easily get a feel for her sense of humor; I personally love both it and her, so in true Leah fashion, I ignored the naysayers and dove in.

And you know what? No One Else Can Have You is weird. It is odd. But it worked beautifully to create an overwhelming sense of unease that was PERFECT for a murder mystery. For a good portion of this novel I felt extremely uncomfortable and I loved it. Hats off to you, Ms. Hale!

There was a time when the tiny Wisconsin town of Friendship lived up to its name. Everyone knew everyone by name, families stretched back for generations, and no one locked their doors. One night – and one girl – changed everything. When Ruth never showed up at Kippy’s house, Kippy thought she bailed on their sleepover. It wasn’t until the following morning that the truth came out: Ruth had been brutally murdered – suffocated with straw – and posed to look like a scarecrow in a cornfield. Fingers immediately start pointing to Ruth’s boyfriend, but Kippy isn’t completely convinced he’s responsible. Armed with Ruth’s diary (Ruth’s mother asked Kippy to read it first and Sharpie out all the sex parts) Kippy sets out to uncover the truth behind her best friend’s death.

Kippy, with her wardrobe full of turtleneck sweaters, was far too awkward for me to connect with, but that only made her more intriguing. There were many scenes where she seemed very young both emotionally and mentally and her voice came across as strange. Also, for a good chunk of the book I was under the impression that Kippy had been in love with Ruth. It’s not a stretch at all to say Kippy was obsessed with her best friend – and for a while I entertained the thought that perhaps Kippy had been the murderer.

I will admit this book definitely is NOT going to be for everyone. One of the main characters, Ruth’s brother, has recently returned from Afghanistan minus a finger and suffers from PTSD. There’s talk of domestic violence and abusive relationships. At one point Kippy is sent to an institution and the characters there are all shown for comedic effect.

Readers looking for an eerie, character-driven thriller will find just that in No One Else Can Have You. There’s certainly no lack of deeply flawed townsfolk in Friendship, Wisconsin. While this novel may not be for everyone, the readers who enjoy it will really enjoy it. It’s gruesome and dark and I couldn’t get enough. Also: if that cover was an actual sweater I would be all over it.


4 thoughts on “No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale

  1. I totally agree, this isn’t the book for everyone–I just finished it earlier today, and I have weirdly mixed feelings about it. I really liked the first half (like you, I was wary because of the many negative reviews), but I thought the book was a little too long and all the mannerisms started wearing me down a bit, hah.

    I do think it’s really clever satire, though, and had it been shorter and maybe better plotted mystery-wise, I would have enjoyed it a bit more. I bet this would make a REALLY fun movie, too! I think we’re a little most used to seeing “quirky” on screen than in books, and it’s a little easier to pull off.

    But anyway, I’m glad you enjoyed it. And I’m glad that books like this are being published. I would totally get that sweater, too.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

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