Lies You Never Told Me, by Jennifer Donaldson
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Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin Teen
Release Date: May 29, 2018
Length: 336 pages
Times Read: Once
Rating: I’m not lying about HOW GOOD THIS BOOK IS
Gabe and Elyse have never met. But they both have something to hide.
Quiet, shy Elyse can’t believe it when she’s cast as the lead in her Portland high school’s production of Romeo and Juliet. Her best friend, Brynn, is usually the star, and Elyse isn’t sure she’s up to the task. But when someone at rehearsals starts to catch her eye–someone she knows she absolutely shouldn’t be with–she can’t help but be pulled into the spotlight.
Austin native Gabe is contemplating the unthinkable–breaking up with Sasha, his headstrong, popular girlfriend. She’s not going to let him slip through her fingers, though, and when rumors start to circulate around school, he knows she has the power to change his life forever.
Gabe and Elyse both make the mistake of falling for the wrong person, and falling hard. Told in parallel narratives, this twisty, shocking story shows how one bad choice can lead to a spiral of unforeseen consequences that not everyone will survive.
What I Liked: I got to read an ARC of this over the weekend, and I was BLOWN AWAY that this is the author’s debut. It’s twisty and twisted and totally addicting!
♥ The parallel naratives. We have one storyline that follows Gabe, and another following Elyse. I kept waiting for them to intersect because I didn’t catch that they were running parallel at first, but when they finally did, I DID NOT SEE IT COMING. I had to rethink a lot of what I’d been thinking the entire book, and some of my perceptions completely changed.
♥ All the twists. I don’t want to discuss because it’s going to be so much better for you if you don’t know what happens going in. It reads like a contemporary for most of the book, but once you get closer to the end it’s definitely a thriller. Will other readers figure out what’s going to happen from the beginning? I have no idea, but I doubt it. It’s a good twist and it’s not obvious. Will readers figure out what’s going to happen later on in the book, way before I did? You might, but I hope you don’t. The realization I had when it connected was intense.
♥ Elyse & Catherine & Gabe. All are great characters that made some SUPER bad decisions but are really likeable. Only Elyse and Gabe have their own chapters, but we see plenty of Catherine through Gabe.
♥ Teenage Boys Being Good Big Brothers. It was SO NICE to see Gabe being a great big brother to Vivi. She’s much younger than him and also has developmental issues, but he’s not embarrassed by her and he really enjoys playing with her and helping take care of her. He takes on a lot of responsibility for picking her up from school and babysitting, but it’s not a big problem for him. He just really loves Vivi and being with her.
♥ Caleb & Irene & Brynn. Great side characters who, while not being the most fleshed out, still were there to shout some sense at Gabe and Elyse.
What I Didn’t: It’s dark and it’s supposed to be–there were just a few spots that could have used some tweaking.
⊗ Sasha. I’m all for unlikeable characters when I can get into their head a little. We didn’t get that with Sasha, though. We only see her through Gabe’s eyes as his ex-girlfriend. She’s a stereotypical mean girl without much substance. She’s also possessive, jealous, a stalker, has some Single White Female vibes going on, and seems a little unhinged. She could have made for a totally interesting character, had she narrated some chapters of her own.
⊗ Aiden and The Teacher/Student Thing. You’re not supposed to like this. And I don’t. So well done.
If this isn’t what Aiden looked like in your head, you’re definitely wrong
⊗ Gabe’s parents. My usual battle-cry of “BELIEVE THE GIRLS” take a turn here for “BELIEVE YOUR SON”! Sasha is doing some seriously messed up things to Gabe, and his parents believe none of it. She kidnapped Vivi for the afternoon and his parents assume that Gabe must have given Sasha the impression she could take her even when he swears he didn’t. She breaks into their house in the middle of the night with a key that she secretly made and they do not at all find this alarming. I FIND THIS ALARMING!
Favorite Quotes: “Will I ever be far enough from this life to be able to look back and see anything with clarity?”
“Becky says that with time, the story will change shape for me. She says I’ll see it a lot of different ways-because life is messy, and weird, and hard, and no one story is the absolute truth anyway. And she says that’s okay, that I can be in charge of my own story.”
Will you guys be picking this one up? I hope so! It was a total surprise hit for me!