by Meredith Adamo

Publisher: Bloomsbury, 2024

Publisher’s blurb

Cheats. Liars. Fakes. Friends? A breathtaking contemporary YA thriller – serious questions and hot romance in an irresistible twisty mystery. Perfect for fans of One of Us is Lying, We Were Liars and A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder.
Jo used to be the perfect high-school girl – class president, popular, bright and successful. But when nude photos of her were leaked to the entire school, her grades plummeted, her friends fell away and now she’s a reckless, difficult social outcast. The girl who ‘deserved’ it.
Then her former best friend Maddie disappears. Everyone else assumes Maddie has just run away but that doesn’t add up to Jo. To discover the truth, Jo needs to get back in with the group of classmates who have shut her out: the boys who betrayed her and the clique of girls who whisper behind her back. And she has to make it look as if she wants to be there.
The only way back in is through Hudson. An old fling with his own reasons for finding Maddie, he persuades Jo to fake date him. And it works. But as the truth about Maddie’s disappearance comes to light, so do long-hidden secrets from Jo’s past. Who is Jo really trying to find – Maddie, or the girl she herself used to be?


by Ashleigh Meikle

When Maddie Price disappears suddenly, rumours swirl about what happened. Yet Jo-Lynn knows things don’t add up or fit. Despite failing school and with her own life falling apart, Jo-Lynn uses the Senior Experience, fake dating a boy, and managing to get in with Maddie’s former friends. Jo-Lynn sets out to uncover the truth in this gripping and teen-driven mystery. But everyone is too busy keeping secrets and using rumours and information against each other to stop the truth from being told.

The mystery slowly unravels throughout the book. The conventional police investigation is mostly background to the story as the media storm swirls around the disappearance, and people dig around to find the story, even If it means a sinister truth. Jo-Lynn is caught between it all as she grapples with memories of what happened to her two years ago that set her on the path of not having friends or anyone she can trust. It seems nobody has ever been interested in her side of things. Now, they’re all interested in Maddie’s story. But the questions that intrigues the reader are: why everyone is either interested or indifferent, why are so many people are unravelling? And why was Maddie determined to work with Tess Spradlin? 

I think I trusted Jo-Lynn more than anyone else. I felt like she was never lying to me in a sinister way, but just trying to come to terms with what was going on, and what had happened to her. Whenever she talked about it, I could feel that something was missing, and there was a sense that nobody was listening to her. She was blamed, and labelled as ‘a girl like that’ who did things that a good girl like Maddie would never do. It became about protecting whoever had done the wrong thing, so their reputation wasn’t damaged. In the end, with everything that happens, it is Jo-Lynn’s palpable determination uncover the truth that comes through strongly, and I wanted to urge Jo-Lynn to tell the truth about what happened to her, which was also a crime and mystery that needed to be solved. In my opinion, more serious than the crime Jo-Lynn stumbled upon in her quest to find Maddie.

As the plot unfolds, we learn things about uncomfortable subjects like cheating, sexual assault, and revenge porn; about what people will do for power, success and to hold something over people or get exactly what they want. Everyone had different motives that drove this story and the author drew out the hidden agendas, the secrets that sometimes means sacrificing people who don’t deserve it. I also liked that the teenagers who solved the mystery weren’t as reliant on social media as they could have been – it was as low-tech as possible. As a result, I enjoyed seeing how Jo-Lynn used her ingenuity to solve the crime whilst still keeping to a contemporary and modern story that young adult readers will find intriguing and relatable.