Book Report: Our highly scientific analysis of a book, from the characters to the writing style to the swoon. See More...

Let’s Not Road Trip to Friendship, Wisconsin

Mandy C.’s investigation into the small town murder in Kathleen Hale’s No One Else Can Have You has her coming face-to-face with awkward teenagers, small-minded law enforcement officials and ineffective parents.

Let’s Not Road Trip to Friendship, Wisconsin

BOOK REPORT for No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale

Cover Story: Fair Isle Murder
BFF Charm: Meh
Swoonworthy Scale: 5
Talky Talk: First Name, Last Name
Bonus Factor: Small Town
Anti-Bonus Factor: Terribad Name
Relationship Status: Nokeydokey

Cover Story: Fair Isle Murder

This cover design would make a particularly fetching sweater for a cheeky Goth forced to be festive at a family Christmas party.

The Deal:

Kippy Bushman has spent her whole life in the tiny town of Friendship, Wisconsin, population 688. Friendship is the kind of town where everyone knows everyone and nothing interesting ever happens. Until one night when Kippy’s best friend Ruth Fried is found murdered, strung up in a cornfield and stuffed with straw like a macabre scarecrow.

When the local sheriff announces the top suspect for the murder—Ruth’s douchey but essentially harmless boyfriend, Colt Widdecombe—Kippy is unconvinced. And so, with the help of Ruth’s PTSD-afflicted older brother Davey, she starts her own investigation, one that leads them to discover the seedy underbelly of the town (and friend/sister) they thought they knew so well.

BFF Charm: Meh

Kippy, in addition to having a seriously ridiculous name, is a very quirky girl. And not entirely in a good way; in a “I had to go to anger management meetings when I was a kid because I tackled my principal and bit his ankles” kind of way. She’s also the kind of young woman who wears a utility belt unironically. If Kathleen Hale had created a stronger, more self-confident Kippy, I would have loved her for her quirks. But even when she’s going up against Friendship’s incompetent sheriff, Kippy is whiny, has eye-rollingly low self-esteem and is a bit of an idiot. I wanted to like her, I really did.

Swoonworthy Scale: 5

Until the investigation starts, Kippy hasn’t even kissed a boy. After she does, all she can think about is doing it again. It even begins to affect her investigation. I understand the all-consuming effect a good kiss can have on someone, particularly someone who’s never been kissed before, but it doesn’t make for the most appealing of reads when it’s mostly talk and little action.

Talky Talk: First Name, Last Name

In Friendship, everyone calls everyone by both their first and last name when they’re greeting each other. The residents of the town also say things like “ya’ know?”, “skedaddle,” “oof” and “okeydokey” in everyday conversation. These unusual speech patterns and jargon terms could have come across as forced and jarring, but, thankfully, Hale is from Wisconsin, and therefore knows how to make them believable.

Bonus Factor: Small Town

Although the small town-ness of Friendship can be frustratingly backwater, which adds to the believability of the story, but also makes for a sometimes annoying read, Hale has created a place that feels real and cohesive. It makes complete sense that Kippy would know who the sheriff’s daughter had been hooking up with—there are, after all, only so many teenagers in a town of 688 people—and, in turn, that the sheriff would be mistrusting of a girl (Kippy) with such a questionable history of making sound decisions.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Terribad Name

I read the premise for this book and thought to myself, “That sounds terrible. I mean, Kippy? KIPPY!? That is the worst name. I can’t read a book with a main character named Kippy. ... Or can I? It might be fun to read solely for the fact that I could make fun of the name in my review …”

Although I strive to be, I’m not an entirely non-judgemental person, you guys.

Casting Call:

Mackenzie Davis as Kippy

Josh Young as Davey

Chris Zylka as Colt

Relationship Status: Nokeydokey

I really didn’t expect much from you, Book, sad to say. Although you were better than I expected, I don’t foresee myself wanting to hang out any time soon. Even if you call me Mandy Curtis and ask me to skedaddle, okeydokey?

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a free review copy from HarperTeen. I received neither Voodoo Doughnuts nor money for this review. No One Else Can Have You is available now.

Mandy Curtis's photo About the Author: Mandy is a small town girl living in a nerdy world, or—if you want to get literal—an editor/writer living in Austin, TX. In addition to yearning for YA books—the more dystopian or fantastical, the better—she can also be found swooning over superheroes, dreaming of The Doctor and grinning at GIFs.
K