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“Any one of us could be made to look a monster with selective readings of our history, but for every photograph he shows you out of context, I can show you another side to the defendant: a caring, thoughtful, intelligent young woman who has bravely faced tragic loss before in her life, with the death of her mother,” Gates. –I’ll Never Tell
I’ll Never Tell
by Abigail Haas
AR Test, LGBTQ
Friends for life. Or death. Spring break. Aruba.
Swimming, sunshine, and golden beaches. It was supposed to be the best time of Anna’s life. Paradise. But then the unthinkable happens. Anna’s best friend is found brutally murdered. And when the local police begin to investigate the gruesome crime, suspicion falls on one person—Anna.
They think she’s dangerous, and they’re determined to prove her guilt. With the police and media sparking a witch-hunt against her, Anna is running out of time to prove her innocence. But as she digs deeper into her friend’s final moments, she finds a tangled web of secrets, lies, and betrayal.
Will she clear her name in time? When the truth is finally revealed, it’s more shocking than anyone could have imagined.
Originally published as Dangerous Girls in 2013, I’ll Never Tell portrays a group of friends as partying rich kids, who spend their free time drinking, doing drugs, and having sex. The story is told through Anna’s point of view and jumps to various timeframes including when Anna meets her best friend Elise, a trip to Aruba during spring break, various points of the investigation, and Anna’s current experiences in jail. The shifting time periods are not confusing because they are clearly labeled, however, the format doesn’t allow any of the supporting characters to be well developed. As a result, it’s hard to sympathize with any of the characters, including Elise who is murdered.
Even though the story is a mystery, a large portion of the plot focuses on Anna’s jail experiences and explores how the wealthy escape the arms of the law. While this story thread is interesting, it is not well-developed, and in the end, none of the rich suspects are guilty of the crime. Another flaw in the story is the conclusion, which has several inconsistencies that take away from the murder reveal. When the murderer finally is uncovered, there is little shock value, but plenty of confusion.
In a world full of good books, readers can find engaging mysteries without the over-the-top partying and gratuitous sexual content. Unfortunately, I’ll Never Tell falls short in both mystery and entertainment. Readers looking for an excellent mystery should read Six Months Later by Natalie D. Richards, Heartwood Box by Ann Aguirre, and the Jess Tennant Mysteries Series by Jane Casey.
- While at a bar, Chelsea tries to get a boy to dance with her. “She grinds above him like a lap dancer, laughing, until he finally catches her around the waist and follows her into the dark, one hand draped possessively across her shoulder.”
- Anna and her boyfriend, Tate, kiss often. For example, Anna reaches up “to kiss him, and this time, there’s no tension, just a familiar low heat building, and Tate’s hands sliding along the edge of my shirt—”
- Anna, Tate, and Elise dance. “Tate brings me (Anna) tight against him, and then it’s the three of us, me and Elise dancing up close to him and spinning away. . . Tate laughs between us, his hands linger on Elise’s waist as she grinds against him. . . I grab his hand away from her, pulling him wordlessly to the edge of the dance floor, my back finding some surface, his hands finding the curve of my hips, his lips finding mine.” The scene is described over two pages.
- Elise says Tate is a “man-whore. He’s already dated four different girls this year.”
- On Halloween, Tate likes Anna’s “sexy costume. . . His lips press against my neck again, but this time he bites down softly, playfully. . . he’s pulled me around so I’m facing him, his lips hard and searching on mine. . .” The scene is described over a page.
- Elise says she dumped a guy because “he had a two-inch dick and no idea what to do with it.”
- Elise and Tate plan their first time having sex. “He grinned, trailing his hand lower, down my throat, and across the sensitive skin of my breast. I felt my stomach flip over. . . Tate dipped his head, following the path of his hand with his lips now, kissing a winding trail down my body, while the other hand gently stroked, lower, in a slow rhythm that left me gasping.”
- Elise has sex with several boys that she just met. Because of Elise, Anna realizes, “I could kiss a boy, breathless against the back wall of some club, and then just walk away not even knowing his name. Or, like Elise, do more. Do whatever we wanted.”
- Elise and Anna have a sexual relationship, but their kisses are the only thing described.
- While in Aruba, Tate and Anna share a room. One morning, “He pulls me back up, kissing me hard as he rolls over and crushes me in his embrace. . . then the kiss deepens, his hands reaching impatiently for the flesh of my thighs, easing them apart. I feel him harden against me.” When Anna asks Tate to wait, he decides to go for a run.
- After hooking up with a boy, Elise complains about him. “You know he did this weird role-playing thing. . .He got off on the whole domination thing, you know, holding me down, trying to make me beg. I mean, I like getting thrown around as much as the next girl, but this was different.” Later, the boy tried to spike Elise’s drink with liquid Ecstasy.
- While in jail, an inmate attacks Anna. “The girl lunges at me. I barely have time to get my hands up in defense before her body is on mine and she’s tearing at my hair, clawing at my face. . .The girl drives her elbow into my stomach, making me gulp for air. Her face is lit up, breathless and bright, nose bloody from one of my desperate blocks.” The fight is broken up when Anna is pulled off the inmate. Someone gives Anna a syringe that makes everything go black.
- Elise and Anna get into an argument. Anna keeps “holding tight, until she shoves me away hard enough to send me flying to the ground among the shattered glass. . . there’s a dull pain in the back of my head, where it cracked against the floor.”
- Elise slept with Niklas once. Later, he goes to see Anna in prison. Niklas says, “Found yourself a prison bitch yet? Some action in the shower?”
Drugs and Alcohol
- Anna, Elise, and a group of friends go to Aruba over spring break. They drink beer, vodka, and other alcohol excessively throughout the trip.
- During a trial, an attorney tries to “establish Miss Chevalier’s normal partying routine” by showing a picture of her and her friends drinking. Anna says, “We all drank. Just some wine, or vodka with mixers, you know? The guys had beer.”
- During the trial, Anna’s attorney tells her that the prosecutor will “ask about the weed and the pills. About my mom’s Xanax, and the times Elise tried her dad’s Percocet, about the cocaine Melanie saw Elise try over Christmas break, and the liquid X Niklas tried to feed her in the club that night.”
- Anna thinks the lawyers are trying to say “[she] led Elise astray. . . that [Anna] coerced her into skipping school, and staying out too late, and drinking dollar shots in dive bars until she screwed strange guys in the bathroom of clubs that should have never let [them] in.”
- Elise and Anna go to a restaurant and “sip cocktails from sugar-rimmed glasses.”
- Tate meets Anna at a college party where they both drink beer. Later, they “do lime Jell-O-shots together.”
- Anna and her friends go to each other’s “big, empty houses, sneaking liquor and smoking weed.”
- After Elise is murdered, one of her friends “spends most of the day curled up in his room with the blinds drawn, woozy on anti-anxiety meds.”
- Elise takes prescription pills “sometimes. When I don’t’ want to deal with . . . feeling, like this.”
- After Elise is murdered, Tate “was having panic attacks. . . so they put him on a bunch of meds. He was pretty out of it.”
- While in prison, Anna is given sleeping pills.
- “Oh my God”, “God” and “Jesus” are used as explanations occasionally.
- Profanity is used often. Profanity includes: ass, asshole, bitch, bastard, bullshit, dykes, hell, pissed, and shit.
- When Elise ignores Anna at school, Anna thinks, “What was she going to do? Tell her friends to go fuck themselves, cast herself out of their world, all alone?”
- Elise tells a girl she is a “skanky bitch with no soul.”
- One of Anna’s friend’s posts, “So hungry, could murder a fucking rhino” on his social media account.
- Elise flirts with a young vendor and then upsets him. He yells, “Fucking Americans! You are whores!”
- Someone calls Anna a pussy.