This book was a page-turner for me, which I attribute largely to its organization. I thought it was interesting that she chose to place the murder-suicide in the middle of the novel. This structure allowed her to address at length the effects of murder and suicide on a small college campus, so the book became much more than a narrative about the crime. It is about a community's response to it. After reading the murder-suicide that early on, I was left wondering how she would conclude the novel, but the organization makes sense given her ability to shed light on the bigger picture and larger issues. She zooms in (on the main event and campus response to it) in order to zoom out later on (on the larger implications for society and culture).
I was also blown away by the magnitude of interviews she conducted, from Maggie Wardle's family and friends to college professors and legal authorities. These people lent a variety of perspectives that give readers access to the murder-suicide's effects on campus from various angles. I put the book down feeling like I had gotten a substantial, holistic view of the events. And as a student on this campus, I felt invested every step of the way, and I could empathize with the feelings of the many students and faculty members that Griffin interviewed.
Even the second time around reading this, I was particularly interested in the way Griffin writes about Neenef and his friends. I remember the first time, I didn't know what to expect in terms of how she would treat him as a character and his actions, so I was surprised that she treated him and his friends with a lot of sympathy. I liked how she gives his friends a voice in the narrative as well, an outlet to express their grief as well as the grief of Maggie's friends and family. Again, she comes at the aftereffects of the events at many different angles to give readers a well-rounded understanding of something that affected different people in unique ways. This lays the groundwork for her to be able to address greater issues, like masculinity and its tie to culture and domestic violence. It also makes the situation that much more complex, another reason it was a hard book to put down.