Near the end of her senior year of high school, Jill Charron wakes up in a hospital bed with no memory of the events that led her there. She learns that the trip to Italy she was longing for has already happened, that she was in a horrible car accident there and that her best friend, Simone, died at the scene. Reeling from the news, Jill slowly comes to realize that Italian authorities believe she caused the crash intentionally and want to try her for murder. As she recovers from her physical injuries, Jill also fights to regain her memories of the past six weeks, hoping they will confirm what she knows in her heart—she would never harm her best friend.
Told from Jill’s perspective but punctuated with police evidence and articles from blogs and travel books, With Malice unravels the notion that young women can be easily categorized. As the media rushes to vilify Jill and sanctify Simone, the readers will instinctively defend the protagonist—but are we, too, jumping to conclusions about a character? Veteran YA author Eileen Cook (Remember) uses snippets of testimony from other characters to deepen the mystery and nudge readers further into uncertainty. Cook creates a disturbing portrait of female friendship and doesn’t shy away from dark, complex characters despite the age of her readership. Readers paying close attention won’t be as shocked by the ending as the marketing suggests, but Cook has still delivered a solid summer thriller for the teen set.