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3.25  ·  Rating Details ·  6,635 Ratings  ·  1,023 Reviews
Written with the riveting storytelling and moral seriousness of authors like Emma Donoghue, Adam Johnson, Ann Patchett, and Curtis Sittenfeld, Cartwheel is a suspenseful and haunting novel of an American foreign exchange student arrested for murder, and a father trying to hold his family together.

When Lily Hayes arrives in Buenos Aires for her semester abroad, she is ench
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published September 24th 2013 by Random House
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Jun 23, 2014 karen rated it it was amazing
it's so rare that i review a book that is actually out, what with all my netgalleying and ARC-hoarding. but this one has been out for ages and i am only just now getting around to the ARC i hoarded last year. but this means i can say to you - go and get this now!! you don't have to wait 4 months for me to float my review and remind you that you wanted to read it.

because i loved it, and i feel like it has been so long since i truly loved a book that i want to crow and dance and maybe… do a cartw
Dec 04, 2013 kari rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2013
This book is not a compelling read. I feel like the author is too busy showing me she is smart(perhaps like Lily) instead of attempting to involve me in the story. I don't like that. At. All.
Proving to readers that you have an extensive and yet overblown vocabulary with which you are insistent on impressing them isn't good writing, in my opinion.
It is also difficult to keep the thread of dialogue going as every single character would have these pages long musings involving the past, or their fe
switterbug (Betsey)
Sep 02, 2013 switterbug (Betsey) rated it it was amazing
Although there's been discussion that this novel is based on the Amanda Knox story, it is more accurate to say that it is inspired by it, and I think that if you go into it with that approach, you won't be comparing for authenticity. DuBois has taken many liberties with the familiar Knox chronicle, so that it is a decidedly different story. It reads like a mosaic of a family and a haunting labyrinth of mirrors.

American exchange student Lily Hayes, on the verge of 21, travels to Buenos Aires to s
Oct 25, 2013 Carol rated it did not like it
This book was supposed to be "loosely based" on the Amanda Knox story. "Loosely"? Change the names, change the city, and it was regurgitated from the news practically word for word except, of course for the author's pretentious word choices throughout the book -- phloem, ingots, scherzo, atavistic, ungulate, syllogism, sybaritic, dictum, mirabile, pentimento, quotidian, caesura, decretory, etc., etc. The writing is pretentious and ostentatious "faint crepitation of a leaf against the window". Oh ...more
Nov 15, 2013 Delee rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, own, reviewed, arc
My road to finding and becoming interested in CARTWHEEL was long...

In 2008, I read a book called The Monster of Florence ( about Il Mostro- a serial killer linked to 16 murders which took place in Florence Italy between 1968 and 1985)...and also watched numerous documentaries about the killings. Douglas Preston was one of the authors of The Monster of Florence, and was also in the forefront of my favorite documentaries on the case. I found him very credible and also knew he wrote The Relic- whic
Patrice Hoffman
Oct 21, 2013 Patrice Hoffman rated it liked it
Shelves: publisher-invite
Sure Cartwheel will be compared to the true events in the life and trial of Amanda Knox. Jennifer DuBois stated that Cartwheel is inspired by that true crime. After finishing Cartwheel I decided to familiaize myself with that news story since I'd never really followed it or watched the movies based on Amanda Knox. I wasn't constantly comparing the book to the real events which is definitely a plus. Because I was seeing this with fresh eyes so to speak, I could appreciate that Jennifer DuBois' de ...more
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

‘Although the themes of this book were loosely inspired by the story of Amanda Knox, this is entirely a work of fiction. None of the characters are real. None of the events ever happened. Nothing in the book should be read as a factual statement about real-life events or people.’

‘Loosely inspired’ would imply that a subject was taken and adapted and molded to fit into a new version of the story. Cartwheel is an echo, a reflection and lacks in any true substantive differe
Oct 10, 2013 Jill rated it really liked it
There are two types of crime fiction: the books that explore who did it and the books that explore why the who did it. Of the interrogative pronouns, why is forever and always the most compelling. Tell me what, tell me who, tell me when, tell me how, but I will not be satisfied until I know why. And so, I’m condemned to eternal dissatisfaction because that pesky why is often unanswerable. Think of all the minute actions you take in the course of a day: can you say why you acted in that precise w ...more
Jul 20, 2013 Miranda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the smartest books I've had the honor of reading in recent memory. Really captivating - a great look at the psyche of a number of characters in an Amanda Knox-style tale. Structurally similar to Rashomon, with some Dickensian characters at the fringes of this gripping murder story. There were times I didn't want to finish it, knowing I'd never be able to grasp that "first-time read" feeling with a second perusal. An absolute must-read.
Review originally published at Learn This Phrase.

First up, and as you may already know, Cartwheel is a novel based on the Meredith Kercher/Amanda Knox case. The initial set-up is exactly the same as the real-life case, except the setting is Argentina, not Italy, and the Kercher character, Katy Kellers, is American, not British. The details of the murder (what is known about it, at least) and crime scene are identical. The behaviour of the characters after the murder is, if not exactly the same a
Oct 14, 2013 Nicole~ rated it really liked it
It ...was...a...split!

The story of Amanda Knox reminds me vividly of Joe McGinniss' true crime bestseller Fatal Vision, the 1970 case of Jeff MacDonald- ex -Green Beret surgeon accused of killing his family in "Manson-style" at his Fort Bragg military based home (it was suggested that MacDonald murdered in a drug-induced fit of rage; he is still serving concurrent life sentences).
Similarly, it recalls to mind, Truman Capote's true crime classic In Cold Blood - the gruesome Kansas killin
Diane S ☔
Jan 26, 2014 Diane S ☔ rated it it was ok
Had quite a while to consider my rating on this book and why so much of it just did not gel with me. I never paid much in depth attention to the Amanda Knox story, so my knowledge of said story is just bare bones. So while this is being compared to that case or said to be the trigger for this novel, I have no way of knowing. What I know is that there were two women, college exchange students and one somewhat hunky neighbor, having relationships with both and than of course there is the murder of ...more
Jun 13, 2013 eb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
About halfway through the first chapter of CARTWHEEL, I said, "Oh my God," out loud. It's just so good, so exciting, so literary, so incredibly fun to read. It tells a fictionalized version of the Amanda Knox story from the point of view of several key players, including the boyfriend, the Amanda character, and the Amanda's-dad character. The writing is sickeningly good, and somehow, even though you know exactly how the story will unfold if you pay passing attention to the news, it's riveting.
Sep 05, 2013 Jill rated it it was amazing
Last year when I read A Partial History of Lost Causes, I was convinced that Jennifer DuBois was a writer to watch. After turning the last page of Cartwheel, I am sure of it. This is an exceptional novel: poised, confident, filled with strong prose and fully fleshed-out characters.

There’s no getting around the fact that the book is inspired by the highly publicized Amanda Knox case. Instead of Italy, the setting is Buenos Aires. But Lily Hayes, like Amanda, is studying abroad when her roommate,
Kindle Gal
Review posted on Kindles & Wine

Cartwheel starts with a disclaimer saying: “Although the themes of this book were loosely inspired by the story of Amanda Knox, this is entirely a work of fiction.” I only mention this because it seems to be a bone of contention with people who have read it—those who love the novel feel they need to defend the uniqueness of duBois’s story, and those who don’t like it note how it’s essentially a retelling of the Knox story. I DON’T CARE ABOUT ANY OF THAT. For me
Jan 28, 2015 Leanne rated it it was amazing
Whether you had passing interest in the Amanda Knox case, completely avoided any mention of it in the press, or devoured every detail, it won't matter, because Cartwheel is fantastic from any perspective. It may appear that DuBois was trying to do something gimmicky and catchy by basing her story on such a controversial real-life case, but instead the background fades away and the book stands completely on its own - its inspiration merely makes it even more intriguing.

At its heart, it shows us h
Aug 18, 2013 Joseph rated it liked it
Shelves: american-recent
Cartwheel: A Novel by Jennifer Dubois is her second novel. Dubios has a BA in political science and philosophy from Tufts University. She has also earned her MFA in fiction from Iowa Writer's Work shop. Her work has been published in several publications and her first novel was selected for Five Under Thirty-Five program from the National Book Foundation. Currently, Dubios teaches in the MFA program at Texas State University in San Marcos.

Contemporary fiction is not usually my first choice to r
Oct 19, 2013 Amy rated it it was ok
I was REALLY not impressed with this novel. It was one of those books that I had to force myself to finish. I think perhaps it was a book that I needed to read in 5 years instead of now. The Amanda Knox situation may just be too close for me to appreciate a fictionalized account of a very similar situation. I found the novel to be actively annoying and frustrating. And repetitive since it basically is the Amanda Knox story with small tweaks to the details. Although it was well written, I just do ...more
I finished this book several days ago and have been trying to figure out what to say about it. I try to live in a little bit of a bubble, I don't watch much TV, very rarely do I watch the news, so I actually hadn't heard about the Amanda Knox story. When I chose this book I knew it was based on Amanda's experience. Reading along I didn't have any idea how much of Jennifer Dubois's supposedly fictionalized story was in alignment with what actually happened to Amanda Knox.

I thought the writing in
Sep 01, 2013 Nicole rated it it was amazing
One might think that this story could write itself. After all, the story of Amanda Knox is laid out on the internet in extensive detail. But this isn't the story of Amanda Knox, it's the story of Lily Hayes, and it's exquisitely and carefully written.

I didn't really know anything about this book when I selected to review it, and I didn't know anything about Amanda Knox. I had some vague Jodi Arias recollection of hearing her name before. But after reading this story, I know a lot more about her
Dec 08, 2013 Snotchocheez rated it really liked it
As I lay here idly in the hospital, having just read Ms. Dubois' latest novel Cartwheel, the word viscous keeps coming to mind (for a few reasons): the immediacy of my situation that put me here (the viscous blood clots in my leg, and pulmonary embolism), the blood flowing out of "Katy Kellers" (Ms. Dubois' victim in Cartwheel), and Ms. Dubois' skilled storytelling (at times beautiful, but sticky; run-on sentences and thoughtful, sometimes overly-wrought ideas abound, adhere to the reader's atte ...more
Oct 31, 2013 Judy rated it liked it

Right up front I have to say that I did not like this as much as her first novel, A Partial History of Lost Causes. I had signed up to discuss Cartwheel as part of an on-line book discussion so possibly I pushed myself to read it at a time not ideal for me. I felt annoyed while reading it.

I think that generally fictionalized accounts of real life events are not my favorite novels. Some are better than others but I can usually feel a certain constraint affecting authors I otherwise enjoy. Cartwhe
Something about this seemed off to me and it never really clicked. I'm not sure if it's the characters and the fact that I never really engaged with them, or if it was the writing style, which seemed strangely passive. The only characters I really felt I gained any understanding about were Lily and Sebastien, while the motives and characteristics of the others felt a lot more vague, which is strange considering the novel was told through multiple points of views. Lily and Sebastien are both very ...more
Roger Brunyate
Aug 24, 2016 Roger Brunyate rated it liked it
Shelves: mysteries-kinda
Well-written, but fatally compromised

I must be one of the few people in America not to know about the Amanda Knox case, except that she was tried for the murder of her roommate, a fellow exchange student at the University of Perugia. Which ought to have been helpful, since Jennifer Dubois writes: "Although the themes of this book were loosely inspired by the story of Amanda Knox, this is entirely a work of fiction." So I was prepared to enjoy, unfettered, a story about another American exchange
Oct 14, 2013 Julie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley, e-book
Cartwheel is a 2013 Random House publication, written by Jennifer duBois.

Andrew and Maureen lost their first child, Janie to anemia. Now divorced, the couple face another horror involving one of their children. Lily had traveled to Buenos Aires as a college exchange student. After only a month and a half, she is sitting in a jail accused of murdering her roommate, Katy.

As Andrew travels to Buenos Aires with his youngest daughter, Anna, he faces his feelings about Anna, his marriage, his current
Aug 29, 2013 Linda rated it it was ok
I received an advanced copy of Cartwheel by Jennifer Dubois from in exchange for my honest review.

Before Cartwheel even began, there was a disclaimer inserted that stated, "Although the themes of this book were loosely inspired by the story of Amanda Knox, this is entirely a work of fiction...." The word "loosely inspired by" would suggest to this reader that there were mild similarities, underlying feelings, lessons learned or themes of this story that remotely resembled, those
Cartwheel by Jennifer duBois opens with a disclaimer:

Although the themes of this book were loosely inspired by the story of Amanda Knox, this is entirely a work of fiction. None of the characters are real. None of the events ever happened. Nothing in the book should be read as a factual statement about real life events or people.

Lily Hayes, a 20-year-old college student at Middlebury College in Vermont, is spending a semester abroad in Buenos Aires. She is immediately taken by her new surroundi
Aug 09, 2013 Denise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.0 out of 5 stars - What is the truth? And how can there be justice if no one ever knows the truth?

It's likely that you have heard the Amanda Knox story. If not, you might want to go to a trusted news source and read about her, her trial, and all the sensationalistic coverage of her case. There's a lot!

Then, get a copy of this book and read it. The parallels are noticeable, but this is a work of fiction with a disclaimer of course. Regardless, this character-driven literary novel will hold you
Jenn Frederick
Feb 17, 2016 Jenn Frederick rated it really liked it
This book was inspired by the Amanda Knox story, but not based on it. It's about an American college student, Lily, who travels to Buenos Aires as an exchange student and the events leading up to and after the murder of Lily's roommate (and fellow American exchange student), Katy. The story alternates between before and after the murder, as well as between characters -- Lily, herself; Lily's father; Sebastian, the man (boy) who loved Lily, and the prosecutor. It was an interesting book. Frankly, ...more
Shelleyrae at Book'd Out

The parallels between the real life case of a young American student (Amanda Knox) accused of the murder of her British flatmate in Italy, and Jennifer DuBois' novel, Cartwheel, are strong, despite the fictionalizsation of characters and details.

Five weeks after arriving in Buenos Aires on a study abroad program, nineteen year old Lily Hayes is arrested and charged with the brutal slaying of her roommate, Katy Kellers. Painted as a remorseless monster in the media, condemned by her own thoughtle
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Jennifer duBois is the recipient of a 2013 Whiting Writer’s Award and a 2012 National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 award. Her debut novel, A Partial History of Lost Causes, was the winner of the California Book Award for First Fiction and the Northern California Book Award for Fiction, and was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Prize for Debut Fiction. Jennifer earned a B.A. in political science and p ...more
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