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. Something I always think about when somebody commits a crime and they go back into their past and find some small brutality or something is that only in retrospect would this appear to be a horrifying prophecy or omen.

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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.

How does our American blitheness, the growing sexual confidence of some of our young women, the openness of speech and behavior, operate out of context?

And how is a parent implicated by a child who commits such a crime? Take the character of Andrew Hayes, the beleaguered father who flies to Buenos Aires in the opening pages to try to help his daughter. Riki Blanco Lily herself, when we get to her, has her own barbs for her family and its milieu. But she tramples even on this sacred memory, tired of the space the baby and her loss have consumed.

He is portrayed as a repressed man prosecuting Lily with an almost absurd level of self-deception, his essential motive being to work out his anger at his inconstant wife. Neither does Campos, nor any aspect of the novel, feel particularly Argentine. As it turns out, there are a number of schools of thought dedicated to the Amanda Knox case. All that is interesting, but in the end, the case is really just a shame.

One promising young woman is dead; another is lost. DuBois hits that larger sadness just right and dispenses with all the salacious details you can readily find elsewhere. In fact, I would have liked to see her part ways with her seed story even more. Why follow the exact machinations of the given legal case false accusation of a bar owner, DNA on a bra clasp when something yet more fictionally explosive was easily in the reach of a writer as talented as DuBois?

And talented she is. The novel is engrossing, and its portraiture hits delightfully and necessarily close to home.


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.


Jennifer duBois

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.


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When Lily Hayes arrives in Buenos Aires for her semester abroad, she is enchanted by everything she encounters: the colorful buildings, the street food, the handsome, elusive man 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 alternately sinister and guileless through the eyes of those around her: the media, her family, the man who loves her and the man who seeks her conviction. With mordant wit and keen emotional insight, "Cartwheel" offers a prismatic investigation of the ways we decide what to see--and to believe--in one another and ourselves.


Review: 'Cartwheel' by Jennifer duBois

Length: 20 hrs and 24 mins Unabridged 4 out of 5 stars 13, Performance 4. But on this evening, three children do not return. When the police arrive, they find only one of them. He is gripping a tree trunk, wearing blood-filled sneakers and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours. Twenty years later, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective. When a girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox must investigate a case chillingly similar to the unsolved mystery. Traversing this lonely territory is Makina, a young woman who knows only too well how to survive in a violent, macho world.

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