From rising star Jessica Goodman, author of They Wish They Were Us, comes a new fast-paced thriller about two sisters vying for the top spot on their cross-country team–the only way out of their stifling small town. But their dreams are suddenly thrown into peril when a new girl threatens to take away everything they’ve worked for… until she disappears.
Stella and Ellie Steckler are only a year apart, but their different personalities make their relationship complicated. Stella is single-minded, driven, and she keeps to herself. Cross-country running is her life and she won’t let anything get in the way of being the best. Her sister Ellie is a talented runner too, but she also lets herself have fun. She has friends. She goes to parties. She has a life off the course.
The sisters do have one thing in common, though: the new girl, Mila Keene. Both Stecklers’ lives are upended when Mila comes to town. Mila was the top runner on her team back home and at first, Ellie and Stella view her as a threat. But soon Ellie can’t help but be drawn to her warm, charming personality. After her best friend moved away and her first boyfriend betrayed her, Ellie’s been looking for a friend. In a moment of weakness, she even shares her darkest secret with Mila. For her part, Stella finds herself noticing the ways she and Mila are similar. Mila is smart and strong–she’s someone Stella can finally connect with. As the two get closer, Stella becomes something she vowed she’d never be: distracted.
With regionals approaching and college scouts taking notice, the pressure is on. Each girl has their future on the line and they won’t let friendships get in their way. But then, suddenly, Mila goes out on a training run and never returns. No one knows what happened, but all eyes are on the Steckler sisters.
This was a fantastic read for me. Because the chapters were brief, it was one of those books where I’d read a huge portion in one sitting without even realising it. Aside from the murder mystery, there’s enough drama to keep the reader interested in numerous narratives.
And if you’ve read any of my evaluations, you’ll see that I’m a big fan of female intellectualism. They’ll Never Catch Us is a film with strong female protagonists and a strong feminist message…without actually discussing feminism. Goodman discusses female sports and competitiveness, women’s body autonomy, and the positive and negative roles sisters play in each other’s lives.
The constant mention of cross country was something I couldn’t stand. I normally don’t have trouble reading books about sports I’ve never engaged in (well, I’ve never really participated in any sports…yay for being completely unathletic!) because I find that if the book has a good balance of sports talk and, well, anything else, it can keep my attention. However, I frequently found myself thinking, “Oh, look, the girls are fleeing somewhere…again,” while reading They’ll Never Catch Us. If you like cross country, you’ll probably relate to this book better than I did.
Fans of Pretty Little Liars will love this. Overall, this is a fantastic YA thriller.
About the Author
She is the former op-ed editor at Cosmopolitan magazine, and was part of the 2017 team that won a National Magazine Award in personal service. She has also held editorial positions at Entertainment Weekly and HuffPost, and her work has been published in publications like Glamour, Condé Nast Traveler, Elle, and Catapult.