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What Has Become of You    by Jan Elizabeth Watson order for
What Has Become of You
by Jan Elizabeth Watson
Order:  USA  Can
Dutton, 2014 (2014)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Jan Elizabeth Watson's What Has Become of You is a slow paced psychological mystery set in Dorset, Maine. It stars Vera Lundy who substitutes for a private school English teacher on maternity leave, to teach students about The Catcher in the Rye. And themes from that classic thread throughout this novel.

Vera seems emotionally vulnerable. A tragedy during her teens - when a sophomore from her high school was murdered - has left her with an obsession (one that seems unhealthy to others) with true-crime books - she even plans to write one herself. And she is her own worst enemy in other ways, drinking too much on her own time and indulging in rather dangerous relationships.

Vera immediately feels a connection with one of her new students, fifteen-year-old Jensen Willard. Jensen's journal entries fascinate her teacher, and she reminds her of herself at that age, during 'the worst years of her life'. Jensen shares everything in her journals, from her feelings about her fellow students to her relationships with her parents and her boyfriend.

Echoing the tragedy in Vera's childhood, there was a murder in Dorset the month before the story begins - the dean's niece was strangled and there is some question as to whether the man jailed for the killing actually did it. Then one of Vera's students is killed and she's the one who finds the body on the way home after one of her evenings out.

When Jensen seems suicidal, Vera reaches out to her and tries to help. When Jensen disappears soon afterwards (and police believe she might be another victim), Vera does not reveal what she knows, concerned about how it would look. This gets her into trouble when the facts do come out, and she decides that she must find out what happened to Jensen herself, heading to New York to track down the girl's elusive boyfriend.

Vera does eventually get her answers, though they are disturbing ones, about an 'unhappy being who had long lived in the land of monsters.' I can't honestly say that I enjoyed What Has Become of You, but it did hold my attention.

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