Book Review: No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale

Posted January 27, 2014 by Kara in book review, Kara / 13 Comments

Book Review: No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen HaleNo One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale
Published by Harper Teen on 2014-01-07
Genres: mystery-thriller, young adult
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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three-stars

The Pretty Little Liars series by Sara Shepard meets the cult-classic film Fargo in this gripping and darkly humorous murder mystery by debut author Kathleen Hale.A quiet town like Friendship, Wisconsin, keeps most of its secrets buried . . . but when local teen Ruth Fried is found murdered in a cornfield, her best friend, Kippy Bushman, decides to uncover the truth and catch the killer. Since the police aren't much help, Kippy looks to her idol, journalist Diane Sawyer, for tips on how to conduct her investigation. But Kippy soon discovers, if you want to dig up the truth, your hands have to get a little dirty, don'tcha know.In this riveting young adult novel, Kathleen Hale creates an intricately plotted murder mystery that will keep readers guessing, laughing, and cringing until the surprising final pages.

You’ve probably read the reviews and heard the complaints. Clearly, No One Else Can Have You is a book that a lot of readers are talking about. Going into reading this, I was aware of how polarizing it was. I wondered which side I would fall on, if any, and how I would respond to the alleged offensive content and the tone of the book. I am happy, and a bit shocked to say, that for the most part, my response is good. 


Here’s the thing. If you don’t connect to Kippy, the protagonist, if you aren’t feeling the tone of the book and the humor, I think you ARE going to be offended. But make no mistake. This book is definitely not politically correct. And though I’m stating that I did not have a problem with the content, there is some language here that I could have done with out. 

Examples? 3 instances of the R word. Things described as “so gay” twice. Yeah, a character even used the F word (that word we NEVER, EVER call gay people). I wasn’t happy. The characters using these words were unlikable and supposed to be that way, but I still think the author could have made them plenty unlikable without using language that pisses off a large portion of the population. I also have to mention the scene where Kippy and Davey sneak into a support group masquerading as a couple dealing with domestic violence. I didn’t like it and it kinda pissed me off. It’s just not right to make light of domestic violence that way. It’s not something to pretend or joke about. I imagine that if I was someone who had been abused by a significant other and I read this, I would be incredibly upset. And it just wasn’t necessary in the larger scheme of the plot.

I told myself before I started this book that I was going to go into it with an open mind. That I was going to think for myself and form my own opinions. I wanted to read past the offensive content and analyze it for readers who might not be bothered by the previous paragraph. It is not my place to judge what people are/are not offended by, so that is what I did. And that’s where we get into the good stuff.

I absolutely adored the characterizations. I thought they were brilliantly rendered. I loved Kippy. I thought she was ignorant and naive, but she was also precious and quirky. I loved her internalizations and I loved her voice. I loved her descriptions of small-town life in Wisconsin, and though this book was a caricature of what that was really like (and the humor really proves that as well), I still found it realistic and relatable. That’s a really hard thing for a book to do. And aside from the offensive content, I really LOVED the writing too. The rest of the characters were well-developed and loaded with personality. From Kippy’s dad (she calls him Dom) who is an eccentric high school counselor to their family friend across the street who is obsessed with video games and collecting random crap, I found the characters detailed and a lot of fun to read. 

This is a book loaded with humor (some of it very crude) and I found myself laughing out loud on various occasions. But this is why I say I get that this book is not for everyone. If you aren’t relating to the tone as you go along (and honestly, I would say you will know this after the first ten pages), the book is probably not going to work for you. Some people found it forced and unfunny while I felt the complete opposite. I laughed a lot and I couldn’t put this book down. There is a lot of talk of hunting and taxidermy and hitting animals with your car with humor related to that, and that’s not something everyone is going to laugh about, and I get it. Maybe I was just in the right mood at the right time and I was ready to read this after waiting to be in the right frame of mind. It’s a satire, a black comedy, but it also covers some very serious issues. Obviously I am only rating it three stars (it’s more of a 3.5) and a lot of that is due to the content I had an issue with (I have to take off for that–personal ethics and all that), but aside from that, I totally adored this book. I do recommend it but I do think you should try a sample first if you can as it is not for everyone.

Reading is subjective. And that’s the great thing about books. They can make us feel different things and reach us in various ways. This book happened to connect with me and hit on a lot of things I love. The humor was totally my thing. Kippy was someone I would have been friends with in high school. I was a misfit. Her behavior is out there and she’s insecure, very real, and definitely not perfect. The characters were all flawed in believable ways. This book worked for me. And that’s all I can say.

13 responses to “Book Review: No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale

  1. The first review I read for this one was scathing, and I was pretty set on avoiding it, but you have me reconsidering things. I think I might try No One Else Can Have You and if I’m not into the tone/writing, I’ll stop from the start. Reading is subjective and sometimes I am into that kind of humour. Glad you enjoyed it!

    -P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

  2. This is a great review! It’s really changed my mind on this book; how, I don’t know yet, but it has, and it’s made a difference. It was so informative and well written, it’s really helped. Thank you Kara, and I’m glad you enjoyed this enough for it to be worth it 😀

    Amanda
    Book Badger

  3. Great review Kara! It would have convinced me to give the book a try had the author not tweeted about it like she did. Too bad. I was looking forward to a dark humor book. We have the same sick sense of humor.

  4. I think this is a really well done review, Kara. I remember talking to you just days ago about how I was happy that another positive review had come from one of my close friends because I was feeling alone in my love for this book. I completely agree that it isn’t for everyone and will probably offend a LOT of readers. I think you pointed out all the right stuff so that only the people who can tolerate the stuff that you mentioned will go into it which would probably bring it more positive reviews and less negative ones in the long run.

    I’m so sad 🙁

  5. MJ

    Interesting. I am really on the fence about this one. I am looking for a decent YA contemporary that has a mystery plot, but I really don’t know if I handle this one from what I read. Possible snark bait though, sure. Guess I’ll have to wait and see if they have it at the library.

  6. I’ve read such a wide range of reviews for this book, but without reading it myself, I do appreciate the fact that the publisher took a chance and left in the offensive bits. After all it’s most likely the characters that are being offensive and not the author. I don’t care for those terms either, but the truth is people use them, and the author has simply shown us a slice of life.

    • I can’t say I agree with that statement. After the drama that went down with the author yesterday, I’m not so sure I believe what you are saying. She WAS offensive. She was rude, and I have lost any respect I had for her based on her own behavior. I am actually really disappointed that you left me this comment, Tammy. I had a lot of respect for you and your blog. As for the language used in the book, until you have read it for yourself and assessed the tone and characterizations, you really don’t know whether it’s offensive or not. The fact remains that I tried to remain as objective as possible while writing this review. I marked down the offensive content and reserved my judgement for other readers to decide. I did my job as a reviewer. I’m incredibly sensitive about this review after what happened yesterday, and I do NOT appreciate this comment.

  7. Glad you liked it overall, Kara. I was so not in the mood for the type of comedic/satire story this was so I DNFed it. So you’re right it really depends what mood you’re in and I knew within a few pages this was not going well lol. I expected a serious thriller you know. The small town thing annoyed me bc I’m from an equally small town (2000 pop lol) and it’s not like that at all so I couldn’t relate to it. It all seemed very out there and ridiculous. Which was the point though. I never got to any of the offensive words though I quit pretty early in. But like Jenni said the book kind of laughs at itself and it will be a hit or miss. If I was in the mood for the type of crudely humoristic read this is I would probably have enjoyed it.

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