Review: No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale

January 19, 2014 Mystery, Reviews 11 ★★★★

No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale
Published by HarperTeen on January 7, 2014
Genres: Mystery/Thriller
Pages: 380
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
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.

When you’re a teenager, and your best (and only) friend is brutally murdered, it’s likely you might become a but unhinged.  For Kippy, still grieving the loss of her mother, Ruth’s death hits her extra hard.  Kippy’s father, Dom, a high school guidance counselor, was already overprotective, but now he worries about Kippy even more.  No One Else Can Have You begins to show its flashes of black humor when Kippy is asked to give a eulogy at Ruth’s funeral.  Ruth’s mother gives Kippy Ruth’s journal to assist with the eulogy.  She also asks Kippy to go through the journal and censor the “sex parts,” so that Ruth’s family can read it when they’re ready.  Kippy does find information on Ruth’s sexual exploits, but she is more surprised over the vicious things Ruth writes: about how pathetic, boring, and smothering Kippy is.  Sheesh – if this is what Kippy’s best friend thinks, I’d hate to know how her enemies view her.  Ruth is now stuck having to eulogize someone who seemed to hate her, or possibly barely tolerated her, at best.

Not surprisingly, the eulogy was disastrous…and hilarious.  This humor might not be for everyone, but I laughed at the image of Kippy with her “arms spread like some kind of preacher,” discussing the town motto and quoting the high school principal while the crowd stares at her in disbelief.  Funerals kind of scare me because I have occasionally had this weird fear I might burst into completely unprovoked and totally inappropriate hysterical laughter in the middle of one, so I loved the awful awkwardness of this scene.

The cops in Kippy’s tiny town of Friendship, Wisconsin don’t normally have a lot to do, as we learn when she relays the story of how the entire squad showed up with the Jaws of Life to rescue her when she got her arm stuck in a tampon dispenser.  (I’m going to note this moment, because I’m positive this is the first time I’ve ever written “tampon” in a review.)  The cops, led by their bumbling idiot of a sheriff quickly arrest Ruth’s douchebag of a boyfriend, Colt, despite any real evidence.  In another outlandish scene, the sheriff allows Colt’s many scorned exes to go to his jail cell to berate him.  Because Colt is SO despicable, and because he’s identified as the suspect very early on, we, as well as Kippy, know he can’t possibly be guilty.  But the cops refuse to investigate, and so Kippy, with Ruth’s journal to guide her, sets out to try to find the real killer.

Even with the awfulness of Ruth’s murder, the tone at the beginning of the story was lifted by this dark humor.  But as it progresses, much of the humor is replaced by a sense of danger as Kippy wanders into one scary predicament after another.  Her mental health becomes more precarious as it is increasingly difficult to tell if she is delusional or if she is truly getting closer to identifying Ruth’s killer.  Her weird obsession with Diane Sawyer doesn’t help.  The ending of the book plays out like a straight-up mystery, right up to the point of the unsurprising reveal.  The identity of the killer almost seemed besides the point, as the real question is whether Kippy’s investigatory journey will be vindicated, or whether those who questioned her sanity will be proven right.  I wish the humor had carried through to the ending, but with earlier lines like, “That’s so gay.  Not like gay gay – I’m not a bigot or anything – I mean like retarded gay,” there was more than enough to tide me over.

Note: I received this ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


11 Responses to “Review: No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale”

  1. Pili

    I have seen so many reviews both for and against this book… that I am convinced that I need to give it a try by myself, and see what I think of it!
    Thanks for a great, honest review!
    Pili recently posted…Showcase Sunday #22!!My Profile

    • Stephanie

      I’m always a little nervous about mixed reviews, but I’m glad this one worked for me, and I does for you, too, Pili!

    • Stephanie

      I think the cover was a great representation for the story inside. Hope you like it, Greg.

  2. Kay @ It's a Book Life

    I have to tell you, I’ve seen a good amount of negative reviews on this book and only a few positive ones. I was always going to read it either way because I just can’t get over the awesome sweater on the cover of this book! Then I read your review…OMG it sounds hilarious and intense and I’m going to read it asap. I hope I like it like you did. Great review!

    Kay @ It’s a Book Life
    Kay @ It’s a Book Life recently posted…The Bookish ReportMy Profile

    • Stephanie

      I can certainly see how this story won’t be for everyone, but I have a weird sense of humor, so it worked for me. 🙂

    • Stephanie

      Kippy doesn’t even know that she’s a source of humor. She’s incredibly awkward, but I loved that.

  3. Kristen@My Friends Are Fiction

    I love reading reviews for books like this one since they are so mixed. I know from reading the summary that this one wouldn’t have been for me but so happy you enjoyed it. I’ve still not watched Fargo–I know you told me to but not had the time. I’ve never been a big fan of dark humor so I guess that’s why I skipped it to begin with. Great review Stephanie 🙂
    Kristen@My Friends Are Fiction recently posted…The Unbound Blog Tour-Lego ArtMy Profile

    • Stephanie

      Fargo is SO dark. After reading this story, though, I don’t really get the comparison to Fargo. But they both have their own unique charms. 🙂

  4. Kim

    I’m glad I read this review. I can honestly say that this is one of those books I would have never even looked twice at because of the cover. It just looks so … meh. But the way you describe this book it sounds great. I would have never thought a murder was involved from that cover.

    Great review 🙂
    Kim recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday: My Reading WishlistMy Profile

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