Cover Image: Tell Me Everything

Tell Me Everything

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Member Reviews

A version of this review previously appeared in Shelf Awareness and is republished here with permission.

"Pretend." Malin Ahlberg's father whispers this instruction in her ear as her parents drop her at Hawthorne College, a small liberal arts school in the Maine backwoods. For the next four years, from that first day through the tragedies that befall her friends on Senior Day in 2011, Malin takes his directive to heart.

Cambria Brockman's debut, Tell Me Everything, ultimately does tell all; yet, in line with psychologically twisted college clique tales, not before putting the reader through a maddeningly enjoyable wringer. Malin is patently unreliable, but in a wonderfully fresh, clear-headed way. She is not influenced by drugs or alcohol; quite the opposite, in fact. Malin is about control, with an unknown but definite method to her madness.

Coming from Texas, as something of a fish-out-of-water, Malin surprisingly finds herself part of an intimate yet disparate group of six friends. Living together in a house purchased by one set of wealthy parents gives Malin constant access to and insights into their secrets, changing dynamics and intimacies.

Weaving through three main timelines--Malin's childhood, freshman year and senior year--Brockman slowly exposes the meaning behind Malin's father's whispered instruction and her ongoing manipulations. Some minor plot points and discrepancies in the character depth of the six friends create minor hiccups in the flow, but Brockman has turned in a compelling slow burn with focus justly on its furtive protagonist. Malin's retelling of each period in her life is fraught with competing control and unease that make for a dynamite combination.

STREET SENSE:  I went into this one blind and really kind of dug it. If you're a sucker for multiple timelines and manipulative narrators with shady pasts, you might find it in your wheelhouse as well.

A FAVORITE PASSAGE:  My father saw potential in me, so he taught me how to be normal. I don’t think he realized it made me more dangerous, to know how to appear like I cared.

(But really, this is the best one: "Responding to people was so taxing." Man, I feel you, sister.)

COVER NERD SAYS: I like this cover. It's a bit "bright" for a book that is really more dark, but the pool has symbolism that I like and the ripples are a pretty cool effect and somewhat metaphorical. Clean, uncluttered, nice palette, good balance, no distracting blurbs or extraneous writing. This would catch my eye on a shelf for sure.
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In her first weeks at Hawthorne College, Malin is swept up into a tight-knit circle that will stick together through all four years. There’s Gemma, an insecure theater major from London; John, a tall, handsome, wealthy New Englander; Max, John’s cousin, a shy pre-med major; Khaled, a wisecracking prince from Abu Dhabi; and Ruby, a beautiful art history major. But Malin isn’t like the rest of her friends. She’s an expert at hiding her troubled past. She acts as if she shares the preoccupations of those around her—dating, partying—all while using her extraordinary insight to detect their deepest vulnerabilities and weaknesses.

By Senior Day, on the cusp of graduation, Malin’s secrets—and those of her friends—are revealed. While she scrambles to maintain her artfully curated image, her missteps set in motion a devastating chain of events that ends in a murder. And as fragile relationships hang in the balance and close alliances shift, Malin must test the limits of what she’s capable of to stop the truth from coming out.

Oh my gosh, the betrayal with these friends was insane!! This was a great story that I highly recommend to anyone.

#TellMeEverything #NetGalley
Pub Date: 16 Jul 2019
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Thank you to Netgalley, the publisher, and the author for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

I went into this book not knowing much about the story except that it was about a group of friends in college and that a mystery element was involved. I kept seeing positive reviews from people I follow so I requested the book on Netgalley.

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. For a debut novel, Brockman did an excellent job fleshing out a relatable and intriguing story. The characters were all written in a way that made me care about them and feel for them as the story progressed. This is a definitely a character driven novel, so if that is your thing, you will definitely like this story a lot! The mystery element of the story was excellent, I was trying to figure out exactly what happened in our narrator Malin's past and what was to come. I was close to figuring out the ending but a surprise threw me off at the end, increasing my rating to a 4.5. Overall, an excellent mystery that I recommend for any book lover. I will definitely be checking out more of Cambria Brockman's work in the future.
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i really enjoyed this debut book from Ms Brockman 

to label it as a "suspense" is not exactly accurate. it reminded me of the Liz Nugent novel Unraveling Oliver and that's a good thing. 

Tell Me Everything was a study of the players in this novel more than anything. it also jumps around from present/past (out of order ). both of these are highly effective in making this a chilling and compelling read - and for me someone who can usually call it right away in suspense/thriller/mystery type novels, Ms Brockman managed to surprise me
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If I were reviewing this book as to how it kept my attention, I would give it a 4.5.  If my criteria was how much I liked the characters, it would be a 1.  I suppose the only one who seemed like a good person was Max; the rest were flawed and though realistic, just not likable!

The story is well told with hints of what happened in the past contained in alternating chapters.  I had guessed pretty much all of the 'secrets' by the time they were revealed which made me sort of sorry I'd spent so much time reading the book.  I was disappointed the author chose to include a few scenes in the book that will tug at the hearts of animal-lovers.  As I read, I just knew what would happen but hoped in vain it wouldn't

I was disappointed in some of the aspects of this book but I think the author is talented and I look forward to her next effort.
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Thanks to Netgalley for supplying me with a complimentary early copy. Up until the very last chapters I thought my rating would be four stars, but I was disappointed with the ending. I do think this author is one to watch because the writing was compelling and very atmospheric. The storylines were interesting and it was an absorbing read.
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The premise of this one got me right from the start. Set in a New England college campus, Malin meets a group of friends on her first day of Freshman year. The groups grows very close over the years and their secrets and pasts are slowly revealed.

The book alternates timelines between Senior Day, Freshman year, and parts of Malin’s childhood. I felt some Cruel Intention-type vibes with this one. The varying personalities in the group of friends kept it interesting and I was looking forward to the drama that would no doubt come from a co-ed group of college friends. There was plenty of drama as allegiances formed and romantic feelings came to the surface. But I kept waiting for the big secrets and pasts to come out so I could understand Malin’s motives. There are some twists and turns, however they appeared a little too late to really keep my interest. The flashbacks to Malin’s childhood were the more dark and twisted parts of the book and I found myself looking forward to that story the most. Thought I felt a little impatient with wanting to know the characters' secrets and unknown pasts, this was a fun, slow-burn campus novel with some dark secrets and unexpected twists.
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2.5 stars
Kept me interested throughout to find out exactly what the "big secret" was...and when I found out I was underwhelmed. I had pretty much figured it all out anyway, and I felt like the author spent way too long getting to the point. 
The jumpy timeline worked sometimes, and other times it just served to muddle the story. I thought a few less jumps and less foreshadowing, and more revelation would have helped the pace move more quickly.
Also, this is an anal quibble, but no one has ever accused me of letting things go...
Very little of the "college experience" was accurately described. It felt almost like a boarding school story than real people working towards their degrees (not diplomas as stated in the book). Colleges don't have valedictorians, you can't compare different types of degrees in that way. Malin is going to law school? And Harvard at that? Did she even take the LSAT? Wasn't even mentioned at all. Malin and Max went to class, but rarely did anyone else seem to go to classes. Every wrong detail pulled me out of the story.
Overall, this is a fair story, decently written, but too laggy and not fast paced enough. If you're in the mood for more of a character-driven tale rather than a plot-driven one, this one might appeal.
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I am struggling to write something that will not give too much away about this book.  You spend the entire book knowing that terrible things are coming.  A group of friends is finishing up their undergraduate years and someone will not make it to the end.  You know that right away.  Malin tells you right up front.  Then you go back and forth between the fateful day and the beginning of freshman year.  Sprinkled in are details about Malin's own childhood.  You always know that it was not a good childhood.  So, you spend the entire thing working toward the horribleness that is coming in the past and the present.  There is not a moment in which you feel comfortable or think that this is going to end well.  The end feels like the beginning of another story.
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Many thanks to NetGalley, Ballantine Books, and Cambria Brockman for the opportunity to read and review her debut novel - I loved it!

We know from the opening chapter of this book that among a close group of friends at an elite college in Maine one person will not live to graduate.  The story is told from the viewpoint of Marin and is told in 3 different time periods - during her childhood in Texas, their freshman year, and then their senior year.  Marin's group of friends consists of her best friend, Ruby (an art major); John (rich and entitled); John's cousin, Max; Khaled, a prince from Abu Dhabi, and Gemma, who just wants to fit in.  Marin is the quiet outsider who sees all and plans accordingly.

This is a slow burn of a book - I loved getting glimpses of the different timelines to better understand the characters and their motivations.  The setting and atmosphere of this book were perfect - you felt you were in college in Maine.  I raced to see what was going to happen and I can't wait to read more from this author.  Highly recommended debut book!
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Tell Me Everything is billed as a thriller/murder mystery and reading the first few chapters, it feels like it’s being set up that way. Then, after initially introducing the idea that there will be a murder and everyone has mysterious secrets, it goes back to regular college and the predictable insecurities of our six characters. 

Throughout the book, Malin keeps talking about everyone’s big secrets. Not only do we not learn most of the secrets, but those that are revealed are not the life-altering secrets they are built up to be. Malin’s secret is probably the only one that is that big a deal, and it’s fairly obvious what her secret is after the first couple chapters. 

As for the murder itself, if you pay attention, you can probably figure out exactly what will happen within the first few chapters. I really found myself reading to the end to find out if my prediction was right. It was…
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Great read. The author wrote a story that was interesting and moved at a pace that kept me engaged. The characters were easy to invest in.
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Interesting thriller/murder mystery set on an Ivy League type college campus in Maine.  It focuses on a close group of friends and all the secrets they hide from each other.   The book jumps back and forth in time between their freshmen and senior years, and when the main character, Malin, is a child back in Texas.  Initially, Malin (the narrator) seems like she has a lot going on and not good things, scheming and planning and hiding a big secret (as the others are all hiding things as well).  Much tension builds between the group of friends throughout college and especially during senior year with lots of surrounding drama culminating in Senior Day.  I thought that the murder would occur earlier in the book but it didn't so it was not really billed right in the initial book blurb.  Regardless, this is a well-written and interesting story with actually a quite unexpected ending.  Intriguing story.  Great summer reading!!!
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I could not put this book down! Tell Me Everything is a compelling suspense thriller. It will make you question how well you know your friends. 

A group of six students meet during their Freshman year at Hawthorne College and remain friends through graduation. The story is told in alternating timelines, with flashbacks by the narrator, Malin, a very complicated and unsettled protagonist. I loved the characters and the dynamics between each friendship kept me turning the pages well into night. 

Rumor is this book has been picked up to become a series on Netflix! Well deserved! 

Cambria Brockman’s Tell Me Everything is everything! I cannot wait to read her next book!

Thank you to NetGalley and Ballantine for my advance copy!
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I love a mysterious book that follows a group of tight knit friends, and for bonus points this was set in a New England college town, which is always a plus for me! While I did think this would be a bit more thrillerish than it was I was still really into the mystery at play here and overall enjoyed this one.

This is told solely from Malin’s viewpoint but it does have a few timelines. First is during her and her friends senior year, next is their freshman year when they all meet and lastly is in the late nineties when she was a child. This wasn’t a page turner in the typical way as it was a character driven story with no big shocks, however it was still pretty dang engrossing even without a bunch of crazy twists and turns and I liked that it didn’t rely only on shock value to keep me engaged.

The best way I can describe this one without ruining anything is to say that it’s a slow and deliberate unraveling of a group of very close friends that is very well written and surprisingly pacey for such a slow burn. Definitely recommended by me if you like a sophisticated feeling mystery!
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This was a page turner! I couldn’t stop reading it because I had to know what happened. I’ve dying for a great mystery/thriller and this one did not disappoint. I really enjoyed it.
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An interesting take on the friend-group-at-college-over-the-years plot. A bit predictable and lacking enough depth to really get much from all but the main character, Malin. I guessed Malin’s past/childhood issue from the start (which was quite a bit “We Need to Talk About Kevin”) and quickly began skipping most of these sections as I can’t handle animal deaths. I didn’t guess Malin’s specific *thing*, so that’s was interesting. All in all, a bit surface-level, but a fine and quick read for this kind of book. More of a “meh” than a “wow!”
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Imagine being 8 years old and your brother is a psychopath. Your parents don’t pay attention to you and don’t believe that he could be a threat. 

Fast forward to going to college and having to live a certain way and be a certain person. It’s all about pretending. 

I have it three stars because I felt like the story should’ve have more depth to it. For being a great story line, there were areas that should’ve had more detail or just more emotion to it. There were also sections that were predictable and that puts a damper on the excitement of reading it.
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TELL ME EVERYTHING is an intriguing novel about a group of friends attending a small private liberal arts college in Maine (think Bates).  The novel is a mystery (what happened to Malin's brother) as well a thought-provoking story about the friendships we form when we are in our very malleable post-adolescents.  How do we recognize the people who are good for us and those who glitter like gold but are really just pretty poison?  It made me reflect on the person I was at that age and the fascinating story rang true for me.  It will no doubt be compared to Donna Tartt's SECRET HISTORY, which is an excellent read, but I liked TELL ME EVERYTHING a bit better.
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This was an interesting read about friends at a university.  It was written well with good character development.  There were some surprises which is always good.  Overall it was a good story.  
Many thanks to Random House Publishing and to NetGalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.
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