Monday, March 7, 2016

Book Review: "Seven Ways We Lie" by Riley Redgate

A school assembly announces the alleged inappropriate relationship between an unidentified student and unidentified teacher.  Naturally, this sends the student body into a gossip-fueled frenzy, wondering who it could be.  We focus in on seven students in particular - Twins Olivia and Kat, Juniper, Claire, Matt, Lucas and Valentine.  They are loosely connected at the beginning of the story, but events tie them closely and in ways one may not expect.

It doesn't take long for us to figure out who the student is in the teacher-student relationship.  The teacher is also kind of obvious, but I was still second guessing myself, just in case.  The thing is that that is not necessarily the biggest thing going on here.  All seven of these students have things that they are hiding - anger, insecurities, family problems, social anxiety, envious feelings, true sexuality - and how they deal with that in relation to the big scandal rocking the school is the real story.

While I didn't particularly love this book, I did think it was okay and will have appeal to teens.   I was glad that the writing seemed to improve and get stronger as the book went on, which is a plus.  The dialogue between characters at first seemed to be in line with current trends, but the more I thought about it - it really is more of an over-exaggeration of how teens "talk" on the internet.  I don't know any teens who actually speak like that.  But given that teens will be reading this - will this increase appeal?  I'm not sure.  It could go either way I suppose.

This book includes a pansexual character, which is a first for me.  I really appreciated how the character explained pansexuality - where the character isn't straight or gay, but "bisexual" doesn't feel accurate either.  The character also frames the definition of their sexuality with a little discussion that clearly explains that gender is a social construct which I thought was well done, especially for this audience.  The character then goes on to make moves on two different crushes which was a little disappointing (but at least we saw one crush develop albeit quickly).  I was just hoping this character would be a little more thoughtful, though that would have gone against the other aspects of the personality.  There is another character who also strongly owns their sexuality and reacts powerfully to slut shaming.

There are a lot of hot button issues wrapped up in this book, many (but not all) relating to sex and sexuality.  I do think this will find appeal in teen readers, especially those that are interested in realistic fiction, friendship and family issues, bullying and topics relating to sex and sexuality.
Seven Ways We Lie
by Riley Redgate
Amulet Books, 2016
352 pages
Source:  ALA MidWinter


1 comment:

Julianne Outlandish Lit said...

Oooh, this sounds interesting. I saw an ARC of it at work, but I had no idea what it was. Love that there was representation of different sexualities, but I'm sorry to hear that it wasn't an amazing read

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