Already when he was a child, Marcus envied his cousins, the Goldmans from Baltimore. He himself is part of the Goldmans from Montclair, but in Baltimore, so much more was happening and he was only part of the gang during the holidays that he spent in Baltimore. The Baltimores adopted Woody, a sports prodigy and best friend of Hillel who was a frequent victim of bullying when he was a child. When they grow up and become teenagers, the friends turn into competitors for the first time: all the three of them fall in love with Alexandra, the girl from next door. School is over and college is calling. Star athlete Woody will have it easy, just as Hillel who is highly intelligent. But things turn out other than planned and only many years after the catastrophe Marcus manages to fully understand what happened.
Just like in “The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair”, Joel Dicker narrates his family saga in a discontinuous way but springs back and forward in time. Piece by piece is added to the story and it only integrates into a whole picture at the end. His tone is calm and relaxed, interrupted by the present time and thus creating breaks and delays which increase the tension and the readers’ interest to find out what happened.
Strongest in this novel are definitely the characters. None of the three is just the average boy with an average life. They all have their flaws and weaknesses which makes them quite interesting but not that singular that you could not imagine them in reality. Their friendship is deconstructed piece by piece thus shading a different light on what young Marcus perceived and felt.