Monday, 29 December 2014

Lies My Girlfriend Told Me by Julie Anne Peters

Published: June 10 2014
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Website: Author’s Website
Format: Audiobook, Unabridged 
Narration by: Christine Lakin

Quick Review

During a run, Swanee dies from an unexpected cardiac arrest, leaving the people around her reeling. One of the people left behind is her girlfriend, Alix. Swanee also left her troubled sister, Joss, behind.
The death of Swanee unravels the lives of everyone around her. With her death, Swanee’s lies also unravel, and it is apparent to Alix that her girlfriend was living a double-life. A mysterious caller continues to text Swanee’s cell, not knowing that she died.
Alix has burning questions, and for some reason, Joss isn’t helping Alix understand what Swanee did.
As Alix struggles to fathom Swanee’s lies and if she ever loved Alix, she becomes close to someone through her own lies. Alix has left her own trail of deceit and destruction in her quest to figure out Swanee, and she’ll have to answer to someone she met because of Swanee’s death. 

            This was narrated by Christine Lakin, and I have no complaints. The narrator has a grasp of the subtleties of the emotions that she is delivering, but she is very natural sounding too. No matter what character she was reading, she sounded like someone I could meet in real life. This naturalness is something that Tavia Gilbert (narrator of Eve) doesn’t have. Such an effortless voice grounds this story in reality.

            Obviously, this story is about two girls in a romantic relationship, planning on spending their lives together. What I really enjoyed was that the book wasn’t all about “OMG I’M INTO GIRLS AND NO ONE ACCEPTS IT!” Alix and Swanee are already lesbians without doubts (so it seems), though they are “out” to various degrees. I appreciated that this book was a tragic love story gone wrong, and the characters involved happen to be young women. I think some of the elements were thrown in there because the author felt like she had to (it gets a bit preachy). The lesbian characters treat intimacy the same as heterosexual book couples. The media tends to glorify and sexualize lesbians, and it’s nice to see that this doesn’t happen in this book (not too much, anyway - what’s there is more of a funny way to hang out that is awkwardly sexual).  

            The very beginning was boring to me. As in, I was walking down the street in the cold pre-sun darkness and I was considering taking off my mitts to listen to a different audio book. Alix’s parents drugged her after Swanee died. Yes, it strikes Alix deeply, and for a stretch of time she can’t accept that Swanee is dead. But how do I let go of the fact that her parents drugged her? I can’t. Not only is it deplorable, it’s unrealistic. Mix the drugging with Alix’s inability to accept Swanee’s death, and that was a painful beginning.  
            Personally, I didn’t find this to be too angsty. Can we ever know how we will react if a loved one dies unexpectedly?

Alix has a fantastic character arch as she realizes her late girlfriend wasn’t that great of a person, even though Alix loved her. On the other hand, Alix isn’t the greatest person, girlfriend, friend, daughter, or sister in the world. While this bothers a lot of people, I enjoy imperfect protagonists. No one is perfect, and I do have to say that her parents don’t allow her too much grieving time (seriously, her girlfriend just died, how reliable of a babysitter do you think she’ll be?), so her behaviour is probably at its worst.

Final Verdict
            Alix discovers other people’s secrets that fundamentally changes how she sees them. This happens in reality as we grow older, our delusions are stripped away, and there are plenty of moments in like this in the book. This is a beautiful romance and tragedy novel that happens to have two girls instead of a girl and a boy. I highly recommend LIES to teens and those who enjoy teen lit and who are open to the concept of two people loving each other regardless of gender. I would make sure that it is an appropriate book club read before putting it on the list, though, as not everyone has the same views nor the respect for diversity.

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