Review: The Lies They Tell by Gillian French

April 30, 2018 Book Review, Young Adult 13 ★★½

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Lies They TellThe Lies They Tell by Gillian French
Published by HarperTeen on May 1st 2018
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Young Adult
Format: ARC
Source: Edelweiss
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With shades of E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars and Gayle Forman’s I Was Here, this dark and twisted mystery will be the page-turner of the year.

Everyone in Tenney’s Harbor, Maine, knows about the Garrison tragedy. How an unexplained fire ravaged their house, killing four of the five family members. But what people don’t know is who did it. All fingers point at Pearl Haskins’s father, the town drunk, who was the caretaker of the property, but she just can’t believe it. Leave it to a town of rich people to blame “the help.”

With her disgraced father now trying to find work in between booze benders, Pearl’s future doesn’t hold much more than waiting tables at the local country club, where the wealthy come to flaunt their money and spread their gossip. This year, Tristan, the last surviving Garrison, and his group of affluent and arrogant friends have made a point of sitting in Pearl’s section. Though she’s repulsed by most of them, Tristan’s quiet sadness and somber demeanor have her rethinking her judgments. Befriending the boys could mean getting closer to the truth, clearing her father’s name, and giving Tristan the closure he seems to be searching for. But it could also trap Pearl in a sinister web of secrets, lies, and betrayals that, once untangled, will leave no life unchanged . . . if it doesn’t take hers first.

I really enjoy a good mystery and solving crimes right along with a character which is exactly why I had to pick up a copy of The Lies They Tell. While I found it to be an interesting read overall, the story was missing that excitement to truly grab me throughout.

The Lies They Tell had a strong beginning, initially quite engaging as we meet the Garrison’s while Pearl waits on the family, minus the one, only for them to be murdered later on that night. I was left quite anxious to dive into the story after that.  The main story takes place about 6 months later as we see the devastation the murders has caused. Pearl is still a waitress at a country club in a Maine tourist town, waiting on the rich while her family struggles to survive. The tragic event caused her father to not only lose work as he was there that night and people seem to blame him for not stopping the events that unfolded, but also started his downward spiral further and further down the hole of alcoholism as he dealt with his own demons and guilt. When the last surviving Garrison, Tristan, shows up at one of her tables along with his friends, Pearl is drawn to him and the answers waiting to be discovered, but finds herself getting in over her head as she does.

One of my favorites parts of the novel was Pearl’s motivation. She has taken on a lot of responsibility in her household, way more than a young girl should. She is working to help pay the bills piling up and she is trying to help an alcoholic who is only getting worse. She feels like if the murders were solved, perhaps the town would stop shaming her father and he could get back some of the work he has lost and he could begin to heal. She situates herself in Tristan’s group, sort of developing a little romance with one of his friends, Bridges, though I’m not sure how much of a romance you could call it because she was so fascinated with Tristan and then there was her best friend who she harbored feelings for as well. I didn’t like almost everyone, including Pearl’s best friend/crush. Really I felt like all the characters were sort of kept at arm’s length and it was probably done to drum up suspicion in everyone we meet but it also made them feel quite lackluster in a way.

As for the crime solving, I needed more from it. It desperately needed more excitement and suspense, and perhaps a few more solid suspects to add to the overall mystery. I don’t always mind predictability as the reader as long as the getting there and details are fun to unravel but that was missing here.

On a whole, I liked this book okay enough. Perhaps if it had a bit more oomph at the end I would have enjoyed it more. It’s a pretty quick read and I believe this storyline will appeal to many readers.


About Gillian French

Gillian French is the author of three novels for teens: GRIT (HarperTeen, THE DOOR TO JANUARY, and THE LIES THEY TELL (HarperTeen, 5/1/2018). Her short fiction has appeared in Odd Tree Press Quarterly, EMP Publishing’s anthology Creepy Campfire Stories (for Grownups): Tales of Extreme Horror, Sanitarium Magazine, and The Realm Beyond. She holds a BA in English from the University of Maine, and lives in her native state of Maine with her husband and sons, where she’s perpetually at work on her next novel.

Sara @ Forever 17 Books

13 Responses to “Review: The Lies They Tell by Gillian French”

  1. Jenea’s Book Obsession

    I don’t really mind the predictability, but the characters need to have some substance to them. I have this one, but I still haven’t read it yet. I guess I’ll have to give in and try it. Sorry this wasn’t as good as you were hoping it would be. 🙁

  2. Greg

    I liked Grit her book from last year and this one sounds really similar, with the Maine setting and even the protagonist, in a way, sounds familiar. I have a feeling it will seem somewhat similar to that book. Sorry it didn’t work out better, I definitely like a little suspense in my mysteries, so I’ll definitely go into it with my expectations in check. Nice review!
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  3. David Gane

    What would you say has been one of your favourite mysteries so far? Looking through some of your reviews, you really seemed to love Liars Inc. quite a bit!

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