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The Good Lie by Robin Brande

February 22nd, 2014 (05:02 pm)
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How far would you go to protect your family?
What would you say or do to keep your loved ones safe?
Would you lie in order to get the truth out?
What if you aren't sure what the truth really is?

When she headed off to her prom, Lizzie thought the worst part of her day would be watching her crush dance with her best friend. Then she came home and discovered her parents' marriage had fallen apart.

And that was only the first domino to fall.

After her mother leaves the family in favor of a new life with a new boyfriend, Lizzie has to step in to keep her remaining family members - her father and little brother - on their feet and moving through their regular routine. But when she suspects something horrible is happening at home, when she accuses her father of doing the unthinkable, Lizzie ends up needing more than just the advice of her best friend - she needs legal counsel.

Throughout the book, Lizzie leans on her best friend Posie for support. Posie is a delightful character with fire in her belly, a mature, loyal, and spirited young woman fueled by a passion for justice. She is strong and exudes confidence without ever being cocky or condescending. She has more influence over Lizzie than she realizes.

We were girls, more in love with the fantasy of life than real life itself. If the fantasies would all dark from now on, who would want to know?

Brande is unafraid to have her protagonist say or do things that may paint her in less than a saintly light. For example, Lizzie says some disrespectful things to her mother, but it's often the ugly truth, reminding her that she left her family for some guy (who, to make matters worse, was her real estate husband's client) and that she spends time with him than with her own kids. Needless to say, Lizzie's relationship with her mother becomes strained, but she is very grateful when her mom takes in Mikey.

There's a feeling of loss that comes over you when you walk up to a place that isn't yours, and your mother stands in the doorway and nothing inside looks like home, and you realize you're not a part of her life anymore, and the childhood you had with her can never be resurrected.

Mikey, Lizzie's younger brother, is the innocent party in all of this. When Lizzie suspects her father is abusing him, she does what she thinks she has to do to keep him safe. Here is where the title of the book comes into play: Is it all right for Lizzie to lie if it means keeping Mikey out of harm's way? If her intentions are good, can she bend the truth to fit their needs? What if there's more truth to it than even she believes? And what happens when people believe her, but she doesn't quite believe herself?

In THE GOOD LIE, author Robin Brande dives into many serious subject matters, and she dives in deep. Abuse, religion, truth, the reliability of memory - there's a lot to chew on here, and it's handled both frankly and realistically. Nothing ever feels preachy, and instead of things being black and white, there's a lot of grey area. Lizzie's life is layered, and as she struggles to figure out the right thing to do about her father and her family, she also has to deal with school, events from her past she'd rather forget, and her attraction to and interactions with Jason the ladykiller (not literally). From the very first chapter, readers can tell that Lizzie is telling her story at a distance, sharing what happened after the fact. As the story progresses, little hints at what's to come increase the tension, until everything explodes. It's messy, and it's complicated, and Lizzie has to face it head-on. Not only does she deal with the aftermath, but the closing pages also hint at what's to come, giving her direction and hope for the future.

Due to the subject matter, this book is recommended for older teens and adults.

If you like books by Courtney Summers (Cracked Up to Be, Some Girls Are), you will definitely like The Good Lie by Robin Brande, and vice-versa.

I also recommend Robin Brande's other books, including but not limited to Doggirl and Evolution, Me, & Other Freaks of Nature.

I have included THE GOOD LIE on my Tough Issues for Teens booklist.