Review · Young Adult

This Is Our Story by Ashley Elston

this-is-our-story-by-ashley-elstonPublisher: Hyperion

Pub. Date: 2016

Genre: Contemporary Realistic Fiction, Mystery, YA

Pages: 312

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

No one knows what happened at River Point. Of the five boys who went hunting, only four came back. Grant Perkins was killed by his Remington, and everyone had handled that gun. Kate Marino, who interns at the DA’s office, wants justice for Grant, despite the DA wanting to sweep it under the rug. Was it an accident or was it murder? That’s what Kate hopes to find out. This Is Our Story, by Ashley Elston, is a mystery, involving love, a photographer’s eye, and careful combing through the evidence.

Because I am taking a course on legal writing this semester, I thought this book would be relevant to the overall theme of my course in the way that watching Legally Blonde (2001) or The Firm (1993) would be. Kate is involved on the law side more than she should be because the attorney relies on her observations. She describes how each suspect and witness behaves in their interviews and takes careful pictures of anything that could be relevant to the case. It simultaneously gives subjective and fairly objective views of the case at hand. I do not read a lot of mysteries, but I have never read a mystery written in this fashion.

Facts of the case: One boy, Grant, is dead. One of his best friends shot him, but we do not know if it was accidental or intentional. We have the gun, but we do not know who used it to kill him.

It was strange to read a novel with three narrators: two in first-person and one in third as interview transcripts. They kept up the tension of the story and the confusion over the case. It made it all the more intriguing. I kept going back over the transcripts as I got further along in the book, trying to figure out “whodunnit.” There have not been many YA novels where I have repeatedly returned to earlier parts of the book while I finish it. It felt like a book version of Law & Order set in high school and more interactive. Elston kept me guessing about who actually killed Grant all the way until the end. The only thing that disappointed me about this book was that I knew that one specific character would be redeemed. Happily ever after.

I feel the characters are all well-developed. They seem like real people, though I only saw three of the change over the course of the novel. Kate, of course, changes her perception of the law and of the River Point Boys. She also puts her logic skills to the test. The boy of the text messages changes in trust of his friends. Then we have the anonymous guilty party. He changes but not for the better. We see as the case drags out how his thoughts became so twisted.

Themes encompassed in the book are ethics, identity and beauty found in contrast. There are many ethical issues involved in the murder and in the DA’s handling of the murder case. There is the question of who murdered Grant, but identity comes into play with how the River Point Boys behaved in the days, leading up to the murder. The boys and their friendship were changing. Kate dreams of being a photojournalist, and she finds beauty in contrasting things. She even thinks artistically as she examines and researches the case.

On a minor note, I love the cover. It represents the hunting camp and Grant with the deer head pasted over his head. Then there are the four other boys who are suspects.

If you are interested in the law or like reading mysteries, This Is Our Story is an excellent book to read. It kept me guessing and pondering over the case. I recommend this novel.

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