#ReadWithMC Readers Thought ‘Everyone Who Can Forgive Me Is Dead’ Was a Witty, Twisty Page-Turner

“A dark and delicious whodunnit that will haunt you anytime you dare to pause reading.”

Jenny Hollander and "Everyone Who Can Forgive Me Is Dead"
(Image credit: Minotaur Books/Emily Geraghty)

With a title like Everyone Who Can Forgive Me Is Dead, it was easy for our #ReadWithMC book club members to pick up Jenny Hollander’s debut novel. That said, a title alone doesn’t keep a reader invested for 304 pages—but plenty in Hollander’s first novel did just that. #ReadWithMC readers said that the psychological thriller—and newly minted USA Today bestseller—was so engrossing that they either put their lives temporarily on hold to finish it or went about their day thinking of the moment they could return to Charlie Colbert and her story.

Charlie, the editor-in-chief of C magazine, has rebuilt her life following nightmarish events at her elite graduate school on Christmas Eve nine years prior—events known to the public as “Scarlet Christmas.” The press and the police called Charlie a “witness,” but Charlie knows she’s so much more than that. In the midst of her impeccably well-crafted life, a buzzy film made by one of Charlie’s former classmates threatens to shatter everything she’s worked for—and Charlie is determined not to let anything, even the people she once loved most, get in her way.

Readers agreed that Hollander was skilled at revealing just enough to keep them hooked, but not too much so that it ruined the buildup of suspense; they noted that the characters’ depth felt realistic, and their flaws felt multi-layered. Readers also commented on the flashbacks in the book, done mostly through therapy sessions, as a strong way to take readers to the past without interrupting the present flow of the story. 

For better or worse, readers connected with Charlie deeply, even if they didn’t always agree with her decisions. Everyone Who Can Forgive Me Is Dead is a book all its own, but many readers specifically drew comparisons to Ruth Ware’s The It Girl and Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll.

Each month, we gather up the reviews of our virtual book club members so that anyone else looking for their next great read has a collection of recommendations. Here’s what #ReadWithMC members had to say about Everyone Who Can Forgive Me Is Dead

Everyone Who Can Forgive Me Is Dead was such a remarkable debut! This book was incredibly immersive, haunting, and suspenseful, all at once. I was quickly swept up in the storyline and by the time I got to the second half of the novel, I was stealing little moments to read because I NEEDED to know how it all ended! While all of the characters were great, Charlie completely stole my heart. She was a total girl boss and knew her worth, but she was also super vulnerable. She made some really questionable decisions, but I couldn’t help but root for her anyway. I loved the usage of a dual timeline in this novel. The past timeline focused on Charlie’s life as a young graduate student and the events leading up to Scarlet Christmas, which was one of my favorite parts of the book. It lagged a tad in the middle but surpassed my expectations overall. Jenny Hollander is definitely on my watch list and I’m excited to see what she puts out next!” — @whats.amy.reading

“The flashbacks helped to make Charlie seem more relatable which aided in her overall likability as a character, even when she was making choices I did not necessarily agree with. The humor that you get glimpses of with the flashbacks of Charlie and her classmates was something I wasn’t expecting to come across but found it to be a great addition. The beginning and middle pacing of this book was so great, making this a page turner for sure. Reading the tiny sprinkling of clues throughout the story was also so satisfying especially once you get to the reveal. Overall this was an exciting thriller and I can most definitely see Hollander going far with her writing and becoming a must read thriller author.” — @literaryland_livin

Everyone Who Can Forgive Me Is Dead is bringing the dark academia vibes with an utterly absorbing and impossible to look away from plot that will have you questioning everything you think you know until the very last pages. Give me well-built stories about a mysterious traumatic event and a lead character fighting to regain her memories of that night to finally know the truth of what happened any day. This book does it all exceeding well—complicated and sometimes unlikable characters, interwoven through present day and what-happened-then flashbacks, bite-sized reveals of increasingly incriminating evidence, and gasp out loud twists that upend the steady thread you think is building. Each chapter has you dying to know what’s next, and the ending comes to serve. No spoilers of course, but with flavors of Luckiest Girl Alive, this must read this spring for thriller and dark academia lovers alike. A dark and delicious whodunnit that will haunt you anytime you dare to pause reading. Many thanks to Jenny Hollander for keeping me up well past my bedtime so I could finally know the unknowable secrets of Scarlet Christmas.” — @candice_reads

"The author did an amazing job at only revealing just enough info to keep me hooked but not too much that it ruined the suspense. I was hooked from the beginning, dying to figure out what happened and who did it. I found my mind wandering to this book throughout my day and itching to get a few minutes to read it. You would never know this was the author's debut. The characters are all realistic and flawed which made it feel more real. The way the author implemented the flashbacks, mostly through therapy sessions, was ingenious. It didn't make it feel like the flashbacks were ripping me away from the main story like some flashbacks do, it made the story flow better. I would definitely recommend this book to thriller lovers." — @deathh_by_tbr

Everyone Who Can Forgive Me Is Dead by Jenny Hollander is a slow burn mystery debut that hooked me in from the start! Alternating from past to present via the means of a therapist kept me on my toes and really added to the slow unfolding of the story from a reader’s perspective. I was intrigued by the secrets and the interactions among the characters, which made this one super easy to devour! The end was maybe a bit lackluster considering all of the buildup, but a great debut regardless!” — @reading_under_covers

“Yes, I downloaded it at midnight and have already finished it…I could not put this down; told in past and present and let me tell you I just wanted to give Charlie a cup of hot cocoa and a hug. The story is fast paced and the ending left me super surprised. I highly recommend.” — @silveryquills

“This psychological thriller had me on my toes from the very first chapter. I really liked that there were twists throughout the entire book, not just the late middle/end. Not only that, but it had a very satisfying ending. The setting and main character in this book reminded me of The It Girl by Ruth Ware (another book I loved). If you’re a fan of unreliable narrators and a story told through chapters in the past and present, be sure to check this one out!” — @hauntsandhardcovers

Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.