Books contemporary Crime fiction mystery suspense thriller Young Adult

People make mistakes in Karen M. McManus’ “You’ll Be the Death of Me”

I always get excited when I hear that Karen M. McManus is releasing a new book – she is such an incredible writer. All of her stories are incredibly unique and fast paced. One thing I enjoy most about them though is that they’re really clever, and she reminds us that not all young adult stories are romance-led. McManus creates suspense with her mysteries and keeps us guessing on what’s coming next.

And her latest book, You’ll Be the Death of Me, which came out in December last year, is no different. It’s riveting and addictive – you won’t want to put it down.

Ivy, Mateo, and Cal used to be close. Back in middle school they were best friends. So, when Cal pulls into campus late for class, and runs into Ivy and Mateo, it seems like the perfect opportunity to turn a bad day around. They’ll ditch school and go into the city. Just the three of them, like old times. Why did they stop hanging out, anyway?

As soon as they pull out of the parking lot Cal knows why. Ivy’s already freaking out about missing class, and heartthrob Mateo is asleep in the backseat, too cool to even pretend like he wants to be there. The truth is they have nothing in common anymore.

At least they don’t until they run into the fourth student ditching school that day. Brian “Boney” Mahoney is supposed to be accepting his newly won office of class president. Which is why Ivy follows him into an empty building, only to walk into the middle of a murder scene. Cal, Ivy, and Mateo all know the person lying on the ground of that building, and now they need to come clean. They’re all hiding something. And maybe their chance reconnection wasn’t by chance after all.

You’ll Be the Death of Me is a pulse-pounding thriller – McManus reminds us that we shouldn’t underestimate a good young adult novel with this epic story where three old friends re-live an old ditch from school which turns deadly wrong.

What makes this tory really addictive though, is that it takes place over the course of one day, and just as you think it can’t get any worse for three main characters, something else happens. And it leaves you wanting to know what happens next at the end of each chapter.

And each of the characters have their own secrets and backstory too – which makes it even more compelling because you, as the reader, know that each character has their own secrets but the other characters don’t and they question their motives. You feel like jumping into the story yourself and filling them in when you read the chapters from their point of view knowing that they don’t know what’s coming.

I whipped through You’ll Be the Death of Me in a couple of days and I definitely enjoyed the chaos element, but more than that I enjoyed the complex themes and ideas MacManus tackles in her story.

In this novel, she takes a look at inappropriate relationships, drugs, people who are in love being easily led, manipulation, low quality and shoddy journalism, rumours and perfectionism.

It’s not easy to tackle these types of issues – even more so in a young adult book where you need to be more wary of you construe them. But McManus has proved herself to be a master of that art.

But the main thing I loved about You’ll Be the Death of Me is the message I felt McManus was trying to teach her readers, which is this: people make mistakes, nobody is perfect, and sometimes when we make a decision or decide to do something, we have no idea what’s going to happen afterwards.

Near the end of the novel, Ivy offers some advice. She says:

“We all make mistakes, right? And almost never see the fallout coming.”

– Karen M. McManus, You’ll Be the Death of Me

Every single character in You’ll Be the Death of Me makes some sort of mistake which leads to the major incident or outcome in the book (or if not the main incident it leads to some of the side-line incidents).

But the point McManus makes is that if they knew what that repercussions of those decisions would lead to, there’s no way they would have made the same choice. Sometimes we don’t know what effect our decisions have until it’s too late.

But that’s what makes them mistakes – no one is perfect, and most people really are good at heart and have the best intentions.

So we should try our best to forgive others for their mistakes and wrongdoings, and forgive ourselves for them too. Because some people are worth forgiving, and worth giving a second chance to.

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