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Tell Me No Lies

Review

Tell Me No Lies

TELL ME NO LIES by Adele Griffin is a blast to the ‘80s past that is intriguing, fun and a perfectly nostalgic summer read.

Lizzy Swift is a perfectly well-behaved senior at an all-girls private school outside of Philadelphia. But Lizzy aches for a more exciting life, and the perfect opportunity to do so arrives with mid-fall semester transfer and senior Claire Reynolds, the mysterious niece of a rich recluse in their town. Lizzy and Claire become friends quickly, and Claire introduces Lizzy to the exciting art scene of Philadelphia. Lizzy even gets a boyfriend in longtime crush Matt Ashley. But something's not quite right, on both counts. Claire talks a lot about a boyfriend that she seems to miss, only their relationship ended so badly that she needed to change schools and Lizzy doesn’t know why. And while Lizzy and Matt seem like the perfect fit a lot of the time, he’s still holding her at arm's length. Everyone has a secret -- even Lizzy, who has epilepsy -- and it’s just a question of whether those secrets, when brought to light, will bring the characters closer together, or tear them apart.

Something that amazed me was Griffin’s ability to take social issues that are prominent now and apply them to life in the eighties. I really appreciated how she handled topics that our society is still very much dealing with today. For example --- and without giving too much away --- she was able to shine light on the victim shaming that comes with situations concerning sexual violence. Griffin’s ability to bring today’s issues into the latter part of last century was definitely a strong point in her narrative. Additionally, her inclusion of the AIDS epidemic that rocked the late eighties and early nineties was really interesting and equally heartbreaking to read about.

"TELL ME NO LIES by Adele Griffin is a blast to the ‘80s past that is intriguing, fun and a perfectly nostalgic summer read."

Lizzy is a relatable character for any girl (or boy) who has ever felt like they were breathing, but not living. We watch Lizzy grow tired of the many evenings spent at home eating ice cream and watching movies with her best friends, Mimi and Gage. Readers come to understand Lizzy’s restlessness with her life, and her desire to discover new things. Watching Lizzy get to do this was a perk of the novel, and while we see her stumble quite a bit along the way, she ultimately comes out a better, more confident person for it.

I also really like that Griffin decided to give her protagonist epilepsy. Watching Lizzy navigate life with that constant worry was something that was at times difficult to read, but also important. I am glad that authors like Griffin are taking strides to represent people who have unique obstacles that they must confront every day. The social anxiety that Lizzy has --- as a result of keeping her condition a secret --- also made her more relatable.

I wasn’t sure how I felt about Claire for most of the novel, which was probably the point. She was the typical mysterious new girl with a penchant for doing daring things and introducing the protagonist to a whole world of excitement. Some of the things she did annoyed me, like how she treated Lizzy at times. Their friendship seemed a lot like a one-sided obsession on Lizzy’s part occasionally, which I also didn’t like. As what happened to Claire begins to unfold, however, she becomes easier to understand and I eventually really came to appreciate the relationship that Lizzy and Claire have at the end of the novel.

Matt, Lizzy’s main love interest, was a solid character. He was a really sweet, all-American jock type, and the concluding moments with him and Lizzy were extremely heartwarming. Unfortunately, while I felt as though Griffin spent a good amount of time developing Lizzy/Claire dynamic, I didn’t feel the same with Matt and Lizzy. A lot of the talk about Matt and Lizzy being “soulmates” was much more telling than showing. I get that Claire and Lizzy’s friendship was more central to the story, but I was a bit disappointed with the lack of development there, nonetheless.

One other problem I had was with the pacing. While it was probably realistic in terms of what senior year of high school feels like, the plot did drag at times. Griffin’s narrative gets really strong towards the end of the novel, however, when things start to pick up and truths are revealed. The last third of the novel was really great to read, and made any other problems I had with the pacing worth it.

Overall, TELL ME NO LIES is a fun and relatable read, ideal if you’re looking for something to flip through on the beach this summer! The setting also adds a new twist to the classic Contemporary YA genre. I would recommend this book to fans of Jenny Han and Morgan Matson.

Reviewed by Cat Barra on June 26, 2018

Tell Me No Lies
by Adele Griffin