THIS IS OUR STORY by ASHLEY ELSTON
A REVIEW BY ALEXA DUNCAN
Gather ’round, dear readers, for a tale of mystery and suspense by author Ashley Elston in This Is Our Story. TIOS is Elston’s debut novel published in 2016, and while I’d seen many people in bookish spheres talk about it since then, I didn’t pick it up until now. Why now? I read 10 Blind Dates by Ms. Elston, that’s why. I read it over the holidays–seeing as 10 Blind Dates revolves mainly around Christmas–and loved it. Naturally, I wanted to read Elston’s other novels.
Enter This Is Our Story, a YA mystery set in small town Louisiana. Our main character, Kate, is a talented photographer who works for a lawyer while juggling high school and everything that comes with it. When one of the most popular boys in her town’s prestigious prep school winds up dead, the boy’s four best friends–known collectively as the River Point Boys–are suspected of his murder. The only problem? No one’s talking. Kate is determined to find out why.
Now I’ve always said that I love mysteries and thrillers in movies and television shows, just not in books. They’re typically not my thing. This Is Our Story was my thing I was hooked from the very first page, an aside from the point of view of the killer interspersed throughout the novel. I wanted to know who was narrating. I wanted to know how they killed their supposed best friend. Most of all, I wanted to know why. Thus begins our story. Not the killer’s. Not yet, anyway.
Kate was a fun protagonist to root for. She was stubborn and cerebral and wanted nothing more than to crack the River Point Boys’ case. The rest of the book’s characters are fine–Mr. Stone, her lawyer boss with a degenerative eye disease is a standout–but they’re not why we read mysteries. We read mysteries for, well, their mystery. These books live and doie by their plot twists and TIOS had them in spades.
Throughout the course of the novel, Kate follows the River Point Boys, taking pictures of them, determined to find out the truth. Between the killer’s monologues and the actual story, we get a few pages of interview transcripts with body language commentary by Kate herself. This mixed-media element made me enjoy the story that much more.
TIOS moves at a quick pace, which is nice considering its slim page length, and the plot always keeps you guessing. Who actually killed the boy in the woods? What does an egregious photo have to do anything? Who is the killer in italics? You can’t know until you read the entire book.
If This is Our Story sounds like your cup of tea, be sure to look for it at the Oreana Library soon!