Do you remember your best friend from high school?  Do you remember being inseparable? What if you were in an accident that caused the death of your best friend since elementary? I’m excited today to share with you the  young adult book With Malice written by Eileen Cook.  This book will take you into the life of a teenage girl and the problems that arise through friendships, social media and a traumatic accident.  It will make you think about how we define ourselves when faced with trauma and the mistakes that can change our lives forever.  This is no historical romance.  This book is relevant to their lives today.

With Malice by Eileen Cook Young Adult book

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I was captivated right from the start. How does one begin to know the exact details of events when 1 person involved is dead and the other has no memory of the event.  It is a fairly fast read and the ending will leave you wondering and questioning.  Central themes in this book are friendships, what comes after high school, social media & cyberbullying, the role of media in the news, basic human nature, does the end justify the means.

What is the book about?

It’s senior year and the school organizes a school trip to Italy.  The main character, Jill, is so excited to go on the trip as she feels like it is a trip that will change her life.  We open the book to find Jill in a American hospital suffering from amnesia and injuries suffered from a fatal car crash in Italy.  A crash in which her best friend since elementary, Simone, is killed.  Only Jill doesn’t remember being in Italy, or the car crash.  We discover that her father who has money whisked her out of Italy to the US to recover and get treatment but also to shield her from the suspicions that she caused the car accident on purpose and possibly killed her best friend on purpose.

We learn about the events of the accident and the characters themselves through police report interviews, blog post comments, and the bits and pieces Jill remembers.  Her parents keep her in the dark about everything preferring her to work on her rehab and not to be upset by what she reads on the internet. In the beginning everyone seems to think she did it. Was she actually capable of this?

It is clear that Jill and her friend had a fight.  Most of her friends from school seem to believe it was over a boy and at one point I did think maybe the Italian boy did have more to do with accident as he lost his job because of the girls, he lied and withheld information.  Perhaps he wanted to get back at the silly American girls.  So what happened?

Part of the story is told through a blog titled ‘Justice for Simone‘ and as the reader we are only given what is written in the blog posts as well as the blog comments to help us unravel the mystery of what happened.  We do not know who is the writer of the blog. The role of the media is key as well.  The media fills in the blanks with this high profile news story.  The internet goes crazy with all the possible scenarios of what happened.  Readers of the blog and consumers of the media are left to chose sides.  They do not have the truth from Simone because she died and Jill because she does not remember.

We find out that Jill had her own blog a year prior to the accident but had to shut it down because of vicious comments from an unknown source.  The Italian investigation crumbles as Jill’s lawyer uses the media to spin the story in Jill’s favour. It may have just been an accident.  A horrible, life ending and changing accident.

Once you complete the book as reader you will have to decide what you believe might have happened.  Do you believe what Jill remembers?

Don’t worry I won’t give it away.  You will have to read it for yourself and decide.

This book has so many different topics to discuss with young adults, here are a few journaling prompts one could use to get students writing and thinking in a classroom:


  •  Reflect on the last time you can remember when the media influenced you to buy or to do something.
  • How has the internet or social media changed how we view the world?
  • List the qualities you believe a good friend should have?  What qualities do you have that make you a good friend? What would you consider to be deal breakers to your friendship?
  • How would you respond to this saying?

One stupid mistake can change everything.

  • Forgiveness can difficult and hard.  Reflect on the last time you forgave someone for something they did.

With Malice book review young adult psychological thriller

*Disclosure: I was provided this book from Raincoast Books to facilitate a review.  All opinions are my own and I only post reviews of books I have enjoyed, my kids have enjoyed or books I believe my readers might enjoy. You can read my Full Disclosure Policy Here. 

I loved the book and I hope you do too.

Happy reading and cheers everyone,

Bonnie in Gold glitter

Bonnie Dani

Educator, Writer, Blogger, Mom

Contact Me: bonniedani@adalinc.org