The Cutting Room Floor
A Junior Library Guild Selection and #1 Bestseller in Mysteries
"A distinctive thriller that is most successful in its nuanced exploration of a young man's obsession and a young woman's journey to self-knowledge." -Kirkus Reviews
"I LOVED this book. This is a debut you want to read." -Kelsey Sutton, Author of SOME QUIET PLACE
"The evolving relationship between Dez and Riley will hold the reader's attention until the final credits roll." -Booklist
DEZ: If my life were a movie, this would be the pivotal scene: a guy peering through his bedroom window at a beautiful girl. I'm the guy, seventeen, somewhat troubled, watching the girl sit on her porch step, crying. The camera closes in on the guy's face, tighter and tighter. He smiles, but it's not sweet. It's…odd. The kind of smile that gives the viewer that prickly feeling deep in their gut.
Yeah, I do this a lot—watch my life through the eyes of a director. Maybe because I want to be that one person in charge. I wish I didn't crave control. But I do . . . badly. And though I might not be able to control Riley, I can help get her to where she needs to be. Convince. Persuade. Protect. I'll make Riley love me, even if it means I have to play the villain.
RILEY: I won't let this destroy me. I'll just keep my head up, ears closed, and try not to look at their faces at school tomorrow. I should be used to it by now. This is just how it goes around here. One wrong move, one bad rumor, one mistake, and it's social death row. I'm the latest to be sentenced. Move out of the way, everyone.
Dead girl walking.
Thank God I have Dez. Sometimes I feel like he's the only person who understands…
If Dez's life were a romantic movie, by the end he would find a way to win over Riley, his neighbor, best friend, and secret crush. But as film fanatic Dez knows all too well, his life is the kind of movie "that would make the viewer uncomfortable." That's because Dez has been manipulating Riley's life to ensure that her romantic relationships (with both guys and girls) never develop. The film he's directing and she's starring in is going to be their ticket to college and out of their depressed Minneapolis suburb; all Riley has to do is realize that Dez is the one. Meanwhile, Riley has been unceremoniously outed, and she's consumed by suspicions about the unsolved murder of her favorite teacher. Debut author Klehr effectively uses Dez's and Riley's alternating voices to tell the central story (Dez's chapters include screenplay-style filming notes), but there are too many complications, loose ends, and inconsistencies surrounding it, and she over-relies on the murder to darken a tale that's already plenty dark and interesting on its own. Ages 13 up.