Seven Ways We Lie – Riley Redgate
Look at that cover art though.
Paloma High School is ordinary by anyone’s standards. It’s got the same cliques, the same prejudices, the same suspect cafeteria food. And like every high school, every student has something to hide—whether it’s Kat, the thespian who conceals her trust issues onstage; or Valentine, the neurotic genius who’s planted the seed of a school scandal.
When that scandal bubbles over, and rumors of a teacher-student affair surface, everyone starts hunting for someone to blame. For the unlikely allies at the heart of it all, their seven ordinary-seeming lives result in extraordinary change.
When I saw this on Netgalley, I picked it for a couple of reasons. Reason one, that cover art. I LOVE the cover. Like really love it. I often moan in reviews about being suckered in by a pretty cover. I was suckered in with this, but not because of the cover, the cover is great, but the story itself kept me very entertained. But, I am getting ahead of myself. Another reason was because the blurb reminded me a bit of Notes on A Scandal which I read earlier this year and really enjoyed and I thought it would be interesting to read something similar, but from a more teenage perspective. The whole teacher/student relationship wasn’t the actual main plot point though, not that I minded, this had enough other stuff going on! The only thing I will say about the student/teacher thing is this – there is absolutely no way I can suspend reality enough to accept that said teacher is still at school while an investigation is going on… Maybe its just the fact that I’m English, maybe things are done differently here, but when I was at school, there was a rumour that a teacher had had relations with a sixth former and they never came back. Just saying. Anyway, even though the student/teacher thing was kind of a sub plot, it did bring everyone else’s stories together and if there is one thing that this book did well, it is characterisation.
So, this book has seven different narrators, each of them vaguely representing the seven deadly sins, every single one of them has their own secrets, their own story lines and most importantly, their own voices. You have no idea how refreshing it is to read a multi person narrative and to actually know who is talking without having to flick back to the chapter to see their name. Literally, every single one of our high school characters was impeccably presented, from the socially awkward Valentine, to self obsessed Claire, they all had their own foibles and quirks and I got a little attached to them if I’m honest. It’s a shame that some of the more interesting characters, like Lucas, didn’t get as much page time, but what we did have was really well done.
I also loved the fact that this book tackled so many subjects, we have a pansexual character – like I have never read a book featuring a pansexual character before! We had a character that was presented as being on the autistic spectrum, we had kids dealing with grief and divorce in unique ways, this book literally had everything. One of the greatest things about it was Olivia’s story line. Olivia is a teenage girl who likes sex, she enjoys owning her body and her sexuality, but she doesn’t enjoy being disrespected and treated badly for expressing herself in that way. Seeing her, not only from her point of view, but from the view of her friends who have their built in prejudices and judgements about her was so interesting. Also watching those judgements fall apart as they realised that she isn’t wrong and that her worth as a human isn’t based on what she does in her spare time was great. Yes to more YA taking down the patriarchy one word at a time.
I think my favourite chapters were Juniper’s, her sections were told in a more poetic format and it really suited her story and how badly she was coping. The Juniper I had in my mind was a very pretty, elf like waif of a girl who was into poetry and pretty floaty dresses, so I thought the fact that her thoughts were poetic really worked well with her character.
While I wouldn’t say this is the best written book I have ever come across, it has some of the best character creations I have certainly read this year and I cannot wait for what Riley Redgate has in store for us next. Also, if you’re having an off day, check her out on goodreads, her author bio is guaranteed to make you smirk at least!