book review: The Lies We Tell by Jamie Holland

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{Source: NetGalley.com}

Thank you to NetGalley and Smith Publicity for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. I appreciate it!

Initially I felt I was too old for this book. It’s told from the perspective of a very young teenager, and I wasn’t sure that the emotional pull was there. I came away from the end of the book feeling differently – yes, the heroine is somewhat childish, but the message here is disconcerting, raw and intimate.

At the centre of The Lies We Tell is Martie Wheeler, a young girl rocked by the sudden death of her father, the disappearances of two sisters from a nearby mall (echoing the real-life vanishing of the Lyon sisters in 1975) and the resignation of President Nixon. Struggling to find her place in a world that is rapidly changing, Martie grapples with her anxieties concerning her father’s death, her sister’s disintegration, a move to a new state and her mother’s grief.

There is no clear plot beyond the inner workings of Martie’s mind, but that’s okay. She’s living in a turbulent time, and Holland skillfully evokes the 70s in the United States without being too heavy handed. Her portrayal of a young girl is also well sketched. Martie sometimes seems immature or simplistic – and what teenage girl isn’t?

In the end, Martie discovers the lies surrounding her life and family. While you know why her mother and sister wanted to protect her, you can see why the truth would be so devastatingly heartrending to bear. When you peer through the looking glass and see the other you, unaware, so completely unaware of what’s true and what’s not.

A very promising debut from an author that clearly likes to immerse herself in certain times and use the outer environment to shape her characters’ inner torments and dreams.

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