Monday, 18 January 2016

Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate

I requested to review this book - Seven Ways We Lie as I was intrigued by title. I wanted to branch out in my YA reads and try avoid a fantasy story or a series.

Seven Ways We Lie is a debut novel by Riley Redgate. Considering her influences on goodreads are listed as Neil Gaiman and J.K.Rowling her own writing genre is considerably different. I think for myself this was always going to be a bit of a tough sell. Not only am I not really familiar with the 'drama' that seems to exist in American Highschools (at least fictional ones anyway) but I also work in a secondary school and found some of the ways issues were dealt with to be quite implausible.

Having said all this I think the characters were really well written. Redgate develops each of her characters by letting them author individual chapters. I have always liked this style of writing when done well. I think its a mark of a very talented writer to be able to switch from character to character creating seven distinctly different voices with each chapter, which Redgate manages superbly.  Each character has some secret or lie whether its a lie to friends, family or even to themselves that they are all hiding. Each individual voice in the story deals with some tough topics and sometimes it has moments where it feels like its a bit  much. However, the constant change of voice helps to break up the issues and keeps the story compelling.

Each character is dealing with their own personal problems. Twin sisters Kat and Olivia are dealing in their own ways with their mother abandoning them. Claire is dealing with a massive inferiority complex, Juniper is struggling under the weight of her supposedly perfect life, Matt his parents disintegrating relationship, Lucas with his sexuality and Valentine is dealing with the weight of his involvement with the rumour regarding the student teacher relationship.  All these stories are connected. The rumour of the student teacher relationship is the core of the story weaving its way into each characters own personal journey. I found each story compelling and each individual story was quite emotional, particularly that of Kat's, who was by far for me the most intriguing character.

Unfortunately for me however, my background working in several schools made the handling of the student teacher relationship implausible and really damaged my ability to connect with the story as it was just too far fetched (says the girl who likes any story with a dragon in it).  Firstly the headteacher holds an assembly and tells the whole school about the as of yet unsubstantiated rumour. Although naturally some gossiping occurs I don't think Redgate captures the pandemonium that would undoubtedly ensue if this kind of rumour was announced in a 'normal school'.  Additionally in order to ferret out information every student in the school is asked to complete a statement about what they know on the issue. I just can't see this happening . Again from my own experience I can just imagine the ridiculous responses students would write on these. Finally the way Redgate shows the school dealing with a student vindictively identified as the one involved in the affair is just absurd for me and would never be allowed to occur. The headteacher meets with this student alone - no parental presence at all. Sadly this really hampered my ability to take this aspect of the story seriously.

Thankfully however their are several redeeming features including the developing relationship between Matt and Olivia as well as the transformation of Kat. Although I found elements of the story really cliched and absent from reality I equally found parts moving and though provoking. This would be a great read for an older teen, especially one struggling with issues at home and with their identity. This book is avaliable to preorder and will be published on the 8th March.

A compelling and thought-provoking read in parts. 

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