What Happened to Cass McBride? by Gail Giles (Little Brown, 2006). Kyle blames pretty and popular Cass for the suicide of his brother and decides to punish her by burying her alive. Thus begins a conversation–a mind game played both ways–where the stakes are death and life, blame and innocence. A riveting, unrelenting, compulsive read. Ages 14-up.
At the time, she said of What Happened to Cass McBride? “It’s psychological suspense and a head game. I think it’s also a real look at what makes us a person and learning to accept that we act on our insecurities. But it should scare the socks off you while you’re thinking deep. At least I’m hoping so.”
As to her inspiration, Gail went on to explain, “Now, there’s nothing about snow in the book, but my last winter in Anchorage, Alaska, was a record year of snow. Over 18 feet. I’d look out the window and see snow over my head. I felt buried alive, claustrophobic. It all started there. That–and something said offhand that had stopped my writing for months before–made me think about the power of words, how we harm each other with words. How withholding words can do harm just as easily. About manipulation by using another person’s insecurities against him. All of that began rolling around and made its way into a character who started her story.”
I read the novel in my 1920s Arts-and-Crafts home with ten-foot ceilings and a flowing floor plan and, with the turn of each page, felt like the walls were closing in on me. For years, I’ve heard Gail refer to this story, shorthand, as “girl in a box” and, as I sank into the novel, I felt like I was that girl.
Recs for Healthy Reading: lights on, chilled water bottle, large room, high ceilings, comfy mattress or cushions, pillow, massage gloves.
Recs for Masochistic Reading: unfinished closet, dehydration, flashlight. Where’s your shrink’s phone number?