☆☆➹⁀☆ 4 stars ☆➹⁀☆☆
What It’s About:
A thrilling, sexy coming-of-age story exploring toxic love, ruthless ambition, and shocking betrayal, Tell Me Lies is about that one person who still haunts you—the other one. The wrong one. The one you couldn’t let go of. The one you’ll never forget.
Lucy Albright is far from her Long Island upbringing when she arrives on the campus of her small California college, and happy to be hundreds of miles from her mother, whom she’s never forgiven for an act of betrayal in her early teen years. Quickly grasping at her fresh start, Lucy embraces college life and all it has to offer—new friends, wild parties, stimulating classes. And then she meets Stephen DeMarco. Charming. Attractive. Complicated. Devastating.
Confident and cocksure, Stephen sees something in Lucy that no one else has, and she’s quickly seduced by this vision of herself, and the sense of possibility that his attention brings her. Meanwhile, Stephen is determined to forget an incident buried in his past that, if exposed, could ruin him, and his single-minded drive for success extends to winning, and keeping, Lucy’s heart.
Alternating between Lucy’s and Stephen’s voices, Tell Me Liesfollows their connection through college and post-college life in New York City. Deep down, Lucy knows she has to acknowledge the truth about Stephen. But before she can free herself from this addicting entanglement, she must confront and heal her relationship with her mother—or risk losing herself in a delusion about what it truly means to love.
With the psychological insight and biting wit of Luckiest Girl Alive, and the yearning ambitions and desires of Sweetbitter, this keenly intelligent and staggeringly resonant novel chronicles the exhilaration and dilemmas of young adulthood, and the difficulty of letting go, even when you know you should.
Tell Me Lies by Carola Lovering is told in dual timelines (during and after college), and the two narrators are the horribly flawed main characters Stephen and Lucy. From the start, it is clear that Stephen is a womanizer. He is the classic predator—always valuing his prey during the hunt, but not once it has been caught. Readers are supposed to assume that his obvious disregard for women stems from his feelings toward his mother. I felt that Stephen’s behavior is more likely a result of mental health issues than an outcome of his less than perfect parents. After all, who among us has or is the perfect parent? Yet, parents, especially mothers, are all too often depicted as the root of all problems in YA and NA novels. On a similar note, the other main character, Lucy, may not suffer from narcissism, but she is self-absorbed and ridiculously judgmental toward her family from whom she has all but estranged herself. She does not have a good track record in terms of relationships either. While neither of the main characters is particularly likable, I found myself absorbed in their toxic relationship.
“She expected honesty the way you expect water to flood from a faucet, and around her I sometimes felt shady and deceptive.” –Lucy
The story of Stephen and Lucy’s college experience is filled with alcohol, drugs, eating disorders, longing to fit in, social insecurities, casual hook-ups, and serial cheating. It is not uncommon for college students to take advantage of their new-found freedom, however, the drug of choice in this book felt like the time period should have been late 20thcentury instead of early 21stcentury. Post college, Stephen and Lucy’s lives are equally filled with bad decisions and bad behavior. If Lucy had honestly pursued dealing with her anxiety and her issues with her family, she might have been an empathetic character. My interest in Tell Me Lies quickly became about the secondary stories regarding Lucy’s college girlfriends, her family, the mystery surrounding Stephen’s horrifying, recurring nightmare, and a hope for a karmic denouement.
If Tell Me Lies was a fashion magazine, Stephen and Lucy would be the unaware targets of the “fashion don’t” spread with a little black band across their upper face to hide their identity. They are the epitome of how not to behave in a relationship and society in general. Don’t read the book looking for romance. Pick it up for a dark, twisted, pseudo-psychological thriller that is filled with dysfunctional characters, heartache and desperation.
I was disappointed in the quick relationship fixes, and I was unsatisfied with the ending. However, the writing was good, the dialogue felt organic, and the pace was perfect. Ms. Lovering’s messages of honesty and trust will strike a chord with everyone.
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