Larbalestier, Justine. 2009. (October Release). Liar. Bloomsbury. 388 pages.
I was born with a light covering of fur. After three days it had all fallen off, but the damage was done. My mother stopped trusting my father because it was a family condition he had not told her about. One of many omissions and lies. My father is a liar and so am I. But I'm going to stop. I have to stop. I will tell you my story and I will tell it straight. No lies, no omissions. That's my promise. This time I truly mean it.
Is Micah Wilkins, our narrator, a compulsive liar? Is she trustworthy? Is she sane? Divided into three parts, (Telling the Truth, Telling the True Truth, and The Actual Real Truth) Justine Larbalestier offers readers an always compelling, somewhat-unbelievable, but oh-so-thrilling read. When we first meet Micah, she's just learned something horrible: her boyfriend, Zach, is dead. Murdered. Everyone is stunned including Sarah, Zach's actual girlfriend, and Tayshawn, Zach's best friend. Who is Micah? Where does she fit in? Everywhere and Nowhere. As his after-hours girl--well, lover--she doesn't run in the same circles as Zach. She's little better than a freak at school. A girl with extremely short hair who doesn't wear makeup, who doesn't look or act like the other girls. A girl who once for a few days convinced everyone that she was a boy.
It's true that Micah feels out of sorts and all in-between. Not white enough to be white. Not black enough to be black. Not feminine enough to fit in with the popular girls, the gossipy girls. She doesn't feel pretty, that's for sure.
She is good at many things: lying, for one, biology, for another, and last but certainly not least, running. She is faster than fast. At least that is what she tells us. Why doesn't she have friends? Is it her appearance? The fact that she likes attention and tells outrageous lies?
What's her secret? Does that secret involve murder? What's the real story? Can we ever know the truth?
I liked this one mostly. It was definitely intense and suspenseful. It definitely made me think. It's a complex book, which is always nice to see. But I'm not sure I liked it, liked it. I'm not sure I want to hang out with Micah any time soon. I don't think we're meant to.
This is one of those books that could be easily spoiled for readers by too much description. So I'm purposefully keeping it short. The more I describe my thoughts (and reactions) about Micah, the more preconceived ideas and notions you might have to carry with you if you decide to pick it up on your own.
I am not quite sure I get the cover though. I'm not saying the US cover isn't attractive enough in its own little way. But it doesn't take the reader very long to discover that the main character, Micah, is black with very short, very cropped hair. True, the narrator is a compulsive liar, so maybe readers should doubt her when she says that she is black with short, cropped hair and can sometimes pass as a boy. But if this girl on the cover is meant to be Micah, well, there's nothing freaky or awkward about her. And even if you don't consider all that, I'm not sure that this cover matches the mood of the book. Do those eyes and that hair say it's a dark-mysterious-thriller?
The Australian cover.
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
ACRC Carnival 2016 #7 July
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