Title: Seven Ways We Lie (2016)
Author: Riley Redgate
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Extent: 352 pages
Release Date: March 8, 2016
Paloma High School is ordinary by anyone’s standards. It’s got the same cliques, the same prejudices, the same suspect cafeteria food. And like every high school, every student has something to hide—whether it’s Kat, the thespian who conceals her trust issues onstage; or Valentine, the neurotic genius who’s planted the seed of a school scandal.
When that scandal bubbles over, and rumors of a teacher-student affair surface, everyone starts hunting for someone to blame. For the unlikely allies at the heart of it all, the collision of their seven ordinary-seeming lives results in extraordinary change.
It’s always harder to review books I like because there’s generally less to talk about, but I will try. 😛
As many of you know, I’m not a fan of multiple/alternate perspectives and often find them lacking–but not so with this book. This book has seven main characters, all of whom have distinctive personalities, voices, thoughts, opinions and stories to tell–something that’s extremely hard to get right. Here’s a quick breakdown of the characters and their respective characteristics:
- Olivia Scott: Hooks up with lots of men. The school thinks she’s a slut. Arguably the main character of the main characters.
- Juniper Kipling: The seemingly untouchable ‘perfect’ girl.
- Claire Lombardi: Envies other people a lot, particularly her best friends. Compares herself to others and is therefore never satisfied.
- Kat Scott: Olivia’s twin sister. Anger issues. Hates people.
- Valentine Simmons: Socially awkward. Doesn’t understand people.
- Lucas McCallum: A sunny disposition. Comes from a poor family but was schooled where the rich kids are.
- Matt Jackson: His parents fight a lot. Has a younger brother he’s sort of responsible for.
These characters are not necessarily bad people, but they also do not shy away from doing things that are considered ‘bad’, making them flawed, multi-layered and therefore realistic (my favourite kind!). Hearing from their perspectives helps us see why they did what they did, why they made the choice that they made, and how they deal with the fallout–and there is always, always a fallout. I genuinely love that.
It’s hard to pinpoint a favourite character since all of them are extremely special in their own ways. At most I cared for them and really wanted their problems to work out; at the very least I identified with certain parts of their personality: Olivia’s loneliness, Claire’s urge to compare herself to other people, Valentine’s occasional inability to understand why people act the way they do, Lucas’s need to appear rich and perfect and just as how others see him.
All these characters contribute to the story in their own special way, and what results is a compelling yet original account of the ups and downs of high school, seen through the eyes of seven different people. It’s downright engaging, and I liked how the story developed and how it ended up intertwining in the end.
From the start to the end, Seven Ways We Lie flowed organically. The most amazing thing, personally, is that none of the characters really overtook the other, and they each had space to learn from their mistakes and become a better person. I’ve never seen multiple POVs handled so skillfully and honestly, Redgate’s next book is an insta-addition to the TBR for me based on this fact alone.
I only have one issue with this book: the teacher-student romance. I won’t say too much about it to avoid spoilers, but I really think it should have been handled more harshly. The age difference may not mean anything if you’re in your thirties or even twenties, but when one of the parties involved is a teenager and the other is their teacher, there is a certain power play that could very easily lend itself to an abusive relationship. The teacher got away too easily in my opinion, and I would encourage the parents of the student in question to be more vigilant as there were some self-destructive behaviours that had nothing to do with the romance itself.
I actually hovered between a four and a five for this book, but I think it’s more of a five (I don’t do half-stars). I did have the one main issue with the book, but I think in the grand scheme of things, Seven Ways We Lie is a solid debut and really re-instilled my faith in books with more than two protagonists. It was surprisingly original, the writing flowed really well, and more importantly, it was fun. I finished this book feeling very satisfied indeed.
PS: I actually have trouble deciding which of the Seven Deadly Sins each of the character is! Anyone with more insight is very welcome to tell me. 😛
* I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book.