RIP Eliza Hart

Eliza Hart is dead, found at the bottom of the cliffs near her exclusive Big Sur boarding school. What happened to her? Was she pushed? And what’s up with the girl that everyone says was stalking her? RIP Eliza Hart explores mental illness set against the backdrop of an idyllic forest boarding school and while the mystery evaporates pretty quickly, the impact of the message remains.

Eliza Hart was the IT girl at Ventana Boarding School, so when she turns up dead, everyone is shocked. Including Ellie, who was Eliza’s best friend in kindergarten and first grade before moving away to NYC. Now, Ellie’s a social pariah at Ventana because of Eliza’s rumors about her, but no one knows that Ellie actually has crippling claustrophobia and only her roommate, Sam knows. So when Eliza Hart ends up dead at the bottom of the cliffs, a lot of suspicion turns on Ellie, who must defend herself without exposing herself and also get to the bottom of what happened to Eliza Hart, both as a child and as a young woman.

What Ellie discovers will change the way she understands Eliza Hart and her own mental illness. This book has suspicious men in the woods, police officers lurking at every corner, parents with secrets of their own and a string of therapists. The mystery of who killed Eliza Hart evaporates pretty quickly as you get chapters from Eliza’s point of view, but I still enjoying following Ellie’s journey into her and Eliza’s past and discovering what made her tick.

I love boarding school novels and this one was very unique, being set in the California forest instead of some East Coast castle. I didn’t want to go there all of a sudden and I wish we saw more of the school’s culture, but it was a great introduction.

I’m excited for Alyssa Sheinmel’s next book, A Danger To Herself and Others, coming out in 2018. Here’s the blurb for that book!

Four walls. One window. No way to escape.

Hannah knows there’s been a mistake, She doesn’t need to be institutionalized. What happened to her roommate at that summer program was an accident. As soon as the doctor and judge figure out that she isn’t a danger to herself or others, she can go home to start her senior year. Those college applications aren’t going to write themselves. Until then, she’s determined to win over the staff and earn some privileges so she doesn’t lose her mind to boredom.

Then Lucy arrives. Lucy has her own baggage, and she’s the perfect project to keep Hannah’s focus off all she is missing at home. But Lucy may be the one person who can get Hannah to confront the secrets she’s avoiding-and the dangerous games that landed her in confinement in the first place.

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