Saturday, April 11, 2020

Lies, Lies, Lies by Adele Parks

LIES, LIES, LIES is not a nice book about nice people. It's a surprisingly gritty, nasty little book that doesn't offer up any easy excuses or answers for the very flawed humans inside its pages. The blurb and cover for this book are a little deceptive because it makes it seem like this is going to be a mystery... and I suppose it is, but only in the sense that the dual POVs allow for some unreliable narrating as characters lie to others and themselves, withholding several crucial truths from the reader until the end.

Simon and Daisy have been married since their post-college days but now that marriage is on the rocks. Simon is struggling with his increasingly worsening alcoholism and Daisy has a few secrets she's hiding from her husband as she tries to hold her ill-concealed disdain for the man she married in check. The only thing they can agree on is their unequivocal love for their young daughter, Millie, who is full of light and wants to be a dancer--

And then, one day, something terrible happens.

I liked how this book approached the dark subjects inside with one glaring exception, which is a mild spoiler, but I'll state it here because it upset me so much: I hate it when animals die in fiction. Apart from that, I thought Adele Parks did a great job not resorting to stereotypes. It was hard to decide who I really felt more sorry for, and my emotions were in a constant state of flux until the end. LIES, LIES, LIES is ultimately a test of how far people go for the ones they love, how much they're willing to tolerate, and whether some things in a relationship are just impossible to forgive. The side characters in this book are also really interesting. They never just fade to background: all of them are involved in the plot pretty heavily and my opinions of them changed several times, too. That was pretty refreshing, since oftentimes, supporting characters can feel more like narrative props than people.

The only thing that did make me raise my eyebrows a bit was how the subject of withdrawal was handled. Alcohol is a depressant and when someone drinks as much as Simon is and is suddenly forced to quit cold turkey, there is not just a danger of delirium tremens, which he experienced, but also death. It felt negligible on the part of the people responsible for the abrupt quitting to not know that and slowly wean him off of it, as I believe is more typical in situations like these.

Overall, LIES, LIES, LIES was a really engrossing book and I had a hard time putting it down once I realized that it wouldn't resort to the tired old tropes and actually neatly deflected some of my expectations quite cleverly. I've seen a lot of my friends reading Adele Parks and now I know why. If you enjoy books about tautly plotted family dysfunction, like Lianne Moriarty or Jodi Picoult, I think you'll really enjoy this one. It's brutal.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!   

3.5 to 4 out of 5 stars

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