Published by Harry N. Abrams on March 8th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, LGBT, Romance, Young Adult
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson
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Seven students. Seven (deadly) sins. One secret.
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—from Kat, the thespian who conceals her trust issues onstage, to 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 seven unlikely allies at the heart of it all, the collision of their seven ordinary-seeming lives results in extraordinary change.
The finest contemporaries are realistic and Seven Ways We Lie was just that. Set in a high school in a small town, this novel is a very realistic exploration of the teenage mind and the issues that high schoolers deal with. The story begins with a rumour of a student-teacher relationship but the book is about much more than that. Rather than focusing on the student-teacher relationship and the mystery of who it might be, the novel uses it as a platform to explore other issues.
It’s not a mystery who the student and teacher are. In fact, from about page 50, it was obvious who the student was and it took very little guessing to determine who the teacher involved in the romantic relationship was. But it’s not supposed to be about the mystery. It’s about how the students, in particular the seven protagonists of the story, react to the rumours and how they behave towards themselves and those around them while this event is taking place. Each of the protagonists in the novel represents one of the seven deadly sins and I love how these character flaws were incorporated into the story. It was done in such a relatable and realistic way that it didn’t feel overly dramatic or forced. These characters have very real and human issues and it was nice to be able to relate to them because I know that I definitely deal with or have dealt with some of the problems that they’re having in the book.
Even though Seven Ways We Lie has seven POVs, I felt that it was done quite successfully. I didn’t feel like I was jumping around too much and every single perspective was necessary and made sense. I did struggle a little bit at the start because I felt like all of the character voices sounded very similar. It took a while to get used to all the perspectives and to distinguish them but when I figured it out, it was wonderful. What I found a little bit strange was that one perspective was written in verse, while the other six were in prose. And as beautiful as the poetry was, I didn’t really understand why it was included. That aside, my main issue with the writing was the dialogue. At times, it came across as a bit unnatural and fake. I couldn’t really imagine two people having a conversation and saying the things that they did. But as I progressed through the book, I became so engrossed by the story itself that I stopped noticing the dialogue.
Hearts fit together like hands.
Not by necessity.
This is a very character-driven book and I enjoyed most of the characters in the book. There were standouts like Lucas and Valentine but I also really liked the other characters too. I had some issues with them at the start but they definitely grew on me and by the end of the book, I was completely rooting for them. There was such great diversity among the seven protagonists. We have a pansexual character, a character who has Asperger’s, a half-Mexican character and a character with suspected depression. It was great to see all these different things given so much attention in the book. All the characters had wonderful development and it was beautiful to see them either overcome their issues or learn to ignore them. The only character who I absolutely hated was Claire. She was just such a terrible friend and human being and did things that made me feel so sad for the people around her. Even though I liked her character growth in the novel, I still really dislike her.
While it did take me a while to get into Seven Ways We Lie, when I eventually did, it was a joy to read. It was so relatable and the characters were likeable for the most part. I enjoyed the writing and thought that the multiple perspectives were handled very well. This is probably the most realistic contemporary novel with a high school setting that I’ve ever read.
Rating: 4 out of 5