Published by HarperTeen on January 7, 2014
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.