Townspeople try to figure out who did it when teenager Hattie Hoffman is murdered.
Hattie Hoffman is an enigma.
She is many people at once. Perfect daughter. Loyal friend. Attentive student. Promising actor. Seductress. Heartbreaker. Dreamer of dreams. Naive teenager.
Through the telling of this story, we follow three main characters. Hattie is a high school senior in a small town who dreams of something bigger. Her teacher, Peter, is a recent transplant, saddled with an inattentive and increasingly distant wife and a longing for the metropolitan life they had. Del is the long-suffering sheriff, investigating Hattie’s murder.
Del could have walked right off the set of any cop movie, filling the stereotypical shoes of the solitary sheriff, living his life through his cases. His investigations are his family. Stoic loneliness and quiet indignation at the attoricites of his fellow man his only two emotions.
For Del, the case is more personal, though, Hattie’s dad is his best friend. Hattie was like a cherished family member. Heâ€™s shocked to find these different facets to the innocent girl he thought he knew.
Hattie’s character is an interesting one.
For the those who have lost her, she represents the lost hope and potential and yearning and uncertainty of youth.
But she’s incredibly flawed. Hattie plays with people’s emotions without taking care of their fragility. People are pawns, and she acts the part she thinks they want her to be to move them accordingly. It’s a dangerous game to play with high schoolers, and perhaps a deadly one to play with adults.
There’s just one problem with that approach: Hattie doesn’t quite know who she is. She’s been so busy playing these roles, that the real Hattie was never fully developed.
“…acting is becoming someone else, changing your thoughts and needs until you don’t remember your own anymore. You let the other person invade everything you are and then you turn yourself inside out, spilling their identity onto the stage like a kind of bloodletting.”
Everything You Want Me to Be is a wistful look at what could have been.
…With perhaps too much sympathy and humanization for Peter, even though the author is careful to show us the selfishness and ridiculous justifications of his inner thoughts. But that’s a whole other spoilery issue I won’t even touch.