I received a free digital copy of this book from the publishers through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Seventeen-year-old Hattie Hoffman is a talented actress, loved by everyone in her Minnesotan hometown. So when she’s found stabbed to death on the opening night of her school play, the tragedy rips through the fabric of the community.
Local sheriff Del Goodman, a good friend of Hattie’s dad, vows to find her killer, but the investigation yields more secrets than answers; it turns out Hattie played as many parts offstage as on. Told from three perspectives: Del’s, Hattie’s high school English teacher and Hattie herself, The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman tells the story of the real Hattie, and what happened that final year of school when she dreamed of leaving her small town behind . . .
Hattie Hoffman is a seventeen-year-old high school student intent on moving to New York City following her graduation in order to make big on her dreams to become an actor. Her whole life has been one long play, acting out each role that she needs to play to satisfy the needs of those around her. In amongst all of her characters is the real Hattie Hoffman, lost within the multiple personalities and the need to perform. Towards the end of her final year, Hattie Hoffman is murdered on the opening night of Macbeth in an abandoned barn. No-one knows who the killer is. We are told the story of Hattie Hoffman’s final year through three perspectives: Hattie’s, Del Goodman the sheriff, and her English teacher. Each provides crucial and important information in seeking out her killer and identifying the true Hattie Hoffman.
This novel was truly gripping as almost every person that Hattie has interacted with has some motive for killing her, or getting her out of the picture. The novel takes its time getting to the details, providing an interesting backstory that is full of love, scandal, and betrayal. As the novel unravels, you begin to question the motives of those closest to her searching through the scenes provided for any hint as to why they might want to kill her. It doesn’t help that Hattie alters her personality and mannerisms to each person, building upon her acting skills in preparation for her big break. Underneath all of that, is a sadness to Hattie as a person; she is a person lost and confused, trying to find her true identity. It is through her online connections and friends that she is able to come remotely close to finding her true self, able to truly express herself and her emotions without fear of people questioning this change in attitude.
Mindy Mejia focuses on the importance of understanding the dangers of meeting people online, as the truth of their identities begins to unravel resulting in the eventual scandal that sets everything off. The situation between Hattie and the person she meets online is an all too common occurrence happening in this day and age but truly highlights the freedom that having online friends gives. However, it results in the question of innocence and responsibility. Furthermore, not only is Hattie trying to identify herself, but so are those around her as their lives drastically change in ways they had never imagined, or hoped for.
The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman is gripping, mysterious, and full of tragedy and left me stuck to the pages throughout. It is a novel full of suspense, twists and turns. You believe you have found the killer only for new evidence to point in an altogether different direction. I was hooked as soon as I read the synopsis, and this was a novel that didn’t disappoint.