The Best Lies by Sarah Lyu (July 2)
TW: physical abuse; emotional manipulation
Overview: There's an old revolver that ruins everyone's life. Elise finds it in her deceased grandmother's attic while digging around for fireworks for prank number 1. After that, the gun rarely leaves her thoughts, and, eventually, it never leaves her side. It's the gun that kills Jack. Remi doesn't know what to do. Her boyfriend is dead, and her best friend- more than her best friend- is the one who pulled the trigger of the stupid gun that she tried over and over again to get rid of. How did it happen? How did Jack wind up dead on the floor? How did she lose everyone she cared about at once? Overall: 5
Characters: 5 This is an intense book, and the characters are no exception. Remi does her best, but she's not perfect like her brother Christian. She uses boys to forget about her parent's constant fighting, but she feels stuck. And then she meets Elise after Homecoming. With Elise's pink Cadillac convertible and cigarettes and reckless abandon, Elise rocks Remi's world in what feels like the best way. Until they become each other's entire world's and Elise becomes focused on poetic justice. Dangerous revenge.
While Remi is pretty normal but a little lost and a bit bored, Elise has deep, unaddressed issues and a long history of trauma. She's also emotionally manipulative, blurring the line between expressing her pain and twisting it for her benefit. She's terrifying, and you don't want to admit that there are people like Elise as the plot thickens, but there are. You think about everyone you've ever met who's sticky and trapping and overpowering like Elise.
Jack is the only one who breaks through the Elise infatuation in Remi's mind. Even though Jack is not toxic or manipulative, it's interesting to see how Remi's personality still makes it feel like she's falling into him and he's drawing her in. Jack makes Remi realize what's happening, but the loyalties run deep, and Jack, stepping into their messy, passionate world doesn't realize how deep or dangerous his interference is.
The family dynamics is also an amazing dive. Remi's parents are trapped in a loveless cycle of explosive fights and affairs, but ruining their perfect exterior is too high of a price to finally be free of each other. I also love the evolution of her relationship with her brother Christian, the so called "golden child".
Plot: 5 Oh my god! The twists and turns and the missing pieces and the puzzle pieces that snap together. Wow. This is a great example of a book where the timeline is all over the place, but it's controlled perfectly. Information is sprinkled in at the perfect time to make it an unputdownable thriller. I also love how each character holds one possible view that flits through your mind about the characters, so you can see how each angle would really play out.
Writing: 5 The writing style here is so voicey and atmospheric, and I love it. The story is strong and built up well. The style is distinct, and Sarah plays off unreliable narrators along with other unreliable characters to make a confusing whirlwind that is somehow perfectly clear too.
As the book says, the best lies are rooted in half truths, and the best scenes are all grounded in a certain amount of truth and honesty. This is delivered excellently.
If You Like This Book...
Sadie: Review Here
Links of Interest:
Screen Queens: Review Here
Past Perfect Life: Review Here
What's Coming Up In July: Here
Brief Chronicle of Another Stupid Heartbreak: Review Here