Ilana Panich-Linsman, Random House There are passages of observation so closely controlled and beautiful in "Cartwheel," the second novel by Jennifer duBois, that what she describes seems as if it will stay described for good. Of a Boston train station, she writes that "the clean sheets of light falling through the window always felt somehow Atlantic, oceanic, and the ashen seagulls outside made smudges against the concrete and sky. John Updike, though in many respects his reputation has gone into eclipse, has in this regard never been more influential. Such skillfulness here will convince many readers that "Cartwheel" is a good novel; alas, it is not. The second is Eduardo Campos, an Argentine prosecutor with a rigid sense of criminal guilt.

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Disclosure: If you click a link in this post and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. A desperate father determined to win her freedom. The brilliant lawyer tasked with her prosecution. And the sphinx-like young man who happens to be her only alibi. When Lily Hayes arrives in Buenos Aires for her semester abroad, she is enchanted by everything she encounters: the colourful buildings, the street food, the elusive guy next door. Five weeks later, Katy is found brutally murdered in their shared home, and Lily is the prime suspect.

But who is Lily Hayes? As the case takes shape — revealing deceptions, secrets, and suspicious DNA — Lily appears alternatively sinister and guileless through the eyes of those around her. With mordant wit and keen emotional insight, Jennifer duBois delivers a novel of propulsive psychological suspense and rare moral nuance.

It featured in my Best Books of list. So it was with much anticipation and very high expectations that I embarked upon her second offering Cartwheel. Katy retreated down the steps. This almost brutal approach to storytelling heightens its resonance and impact on the reader — one cannot simply sit on the sidelines; one must consider what their own reactions would be in such circumstances, and more broadly how their everyday actions might be perceived should they ever be put under scrutiny to such a degree.

Everything he really needed to know was in the pictures. In the pictures, the ease with which Lily Hayes floated through the universe was ruinously apparent; there simply was not a frisson of friction between her desires and their arrival.

Arise, world! Part, seas! Reveal yourself, Buenos Aires, and let me take your picture! On the camera was a picture of a woman with a blood-coloured lesion on her face, clearly taken on the sly. There was a picture of a tiny pants-less boy. There was a picture of Lily Hayes herself, giving an exaggerated thumbs-up as she points to her bug bites. Here, Eduardo saw, was a person without humility.

And Eduardo believed that humility, more than anything, was the basis for morality. I felt little connection to either the accused or the victim I wonder what that says about my character? Cartwheel is a chilling introspective psychological thriller that will quietly haunt you long after the final page.


CARTWHEEL by Jennifer duBois, Book Review

By Amity Gaige Oct. The cartwheel in question — performed during an interrogation in a Buenos Aires police station — is so amazingly tone-deaf it ends up casting Lily as the killer of her beautiful American roommate, Katy Kellers, stabbed to death while Lily was navel-gazing in the night without a solid alibi. Readers will immediately recognize the outlines of the Amanda Knox story here. Knox is, of course, the American arrested in the murder of her fellow study-abroad student Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy; her circuslike case has stretched on for six years, straining international relations and selling millions of tabloids, largely because both women were young, pretty and sexually active. Events in the novel are not recounted as newsworthy in themselves, best delivered untouched; rather, DuBois wrings them for that which is universally or at least culturally meaningful.


Foreign Indiscretions

DuBois hits [the] larger sadness just right and dispenses with all the salacious details you can readily find elsewhere. The writing in Cartwheel is a pleasure-electric, fine-tuned, intelligent, conflicted. The novel is engrossing, and its portraiture hits delightfully and necessarily close to home. The story plays out in all its well-told complexity.


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DuBois, who is 29, and her husband, novelist Justin Perry, met in a writing workshop at Stanford, where both were Stegner Fellows, married almost exactly one year ago, and recently moved to Austin, where she teaches creative writing. Beyond that, in all the dialogue, in every scene, nothing at all corresponds to the reality. And I realized that these reactions and the certainty with which people were feeling them were influenced and inflected by broader issues. This case unfolded at the nexus of a lot of countervailing factors, in terms of class and race and gender and religion and, I think, a kind of cultural misapprehension as well. The novel unfolds through multiple, shifting points of view.

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