Lies You Never Told Me by Jennifer Donaldson
So back in 2017, I picked up The Arsonist at YALC. I had no idea what it was, but grabbed it anyway. It ended up being one of my favourite books of 2017, and thus, when I went back to YALC this year, I wondered which ‘unknown’ book would be 2018’s The Arsonist. Lies You Never Told Me was the only book I was offered that I’d heard nothing about. And thus, she was chosen. Like The Arsonist, Lies You Never Told Me is in a genre that I rarely read, and offered up to me because I was buying something else. The similarities were becoming too coincidental, and so, putting it before some of my most anticipated reads, I picked it up and read it in a little under two days.
Ok, so it’s not the best book I’ve read this year.
I don’t read mysteries and thrillers, but they have a massive market. People love trying to figure out ‘whodunnit’. My own mum included. I do occasionally like to watch shows and films with that aspect to it, but when it comes to books? I’m just not interested. I love a good plot twist, so I don’t see why I can’t read more. Thrillers are full of them!
The problem with Lies You Never Told Me was that I figured it out way too quickly.
Two narratives, states apart, both dealing with toxic and dangerous relationships. Most of the time I was screaming at one character or the other. One’s got a mentally abusive and manipulative ex-girlfriend, and the amount of times he did not treat things seriously blew my mind. I understand that someone in an abusive relationship may not realise they are, or feel powerless and afraid to do anything at all. But this guy had broken up with his girlfriend because he’d had enough, and was clearly angry and brave enough to make argue with her. He knew what she was doing was wrong and he was not at all powerless. But calling the police, filing for a restraining order? These solutions did not come to this boy’s mind, and it was infuriating!
And then there’s our second main character who, instead of getting annoyed with her, I was yelling “Honey no!” because she’s clearly being groomed by her teacher and just doesn’t understand because she’s so young. I think, if relationships like this make you feel uncomfortable, I wouldn’t suggest this book. It’s certainly not the squickiest romance I’ve ever read, but it certainly made me feel a bit gross and uncomfortable. But I understand that’s the whole point; at no point did this book make it seem as if this student-teacher relationship is a good thing.
The fact that I figured out what was going on way before I was supposed to really threw me off.
If there’s going to be a plot twist, I loved to be shocked right at the very end. I feel like I have outwitted the story and I don’t really want to feel more clever than the author crafting this plot twist. Sometimes it feels okay; there are hints where you can be allowed to cotton on yourself. But this plot twist was supposed to be THE plot twist that made you throw your book in the air. But instead I just said, out loud, “yeah, I know.”
So, is Lies You Never Told Me that book I never knew I needed in my life until I read it and was blown away? No. But it did make an entertaining afternoon where I was feeling stressed for fictional people. That’s always fun.