What happens when your truth is so unbelievable, so horrifying, so awful that you can’t bear it? And you can’t ever trust anyone with this truth? You become a liar. 

liarMicah tells us that right up front that she’s a liar, and then in the next breath, promises to tell the reader the whole truth, because she’s tired of living under the burden of all of her lies.  But when you’ve become addicted to something, you can’t just quit cold turkey (and when someone promises finally to tell the full truth, chances are more lies are what you’ll be hearing). Throughout Liar, the forthcoming book from Justine Larbalestier (Bloomsbury Oct. 2009), Micah slides back and forth between her lies, her story, and her truth. But even to the last page, we never really know if any of it is true or not.  It’s confusing, frustrating, perplexing and addictive; and depending on your personal taste for unreliable narrators, total hell or a delicious mystery to unravel.

Micah does not fit in at school, where her lies make her suspect and her social awkwardness puts people off.  She doesn’t really fit into her family, to NYC where they live, or upstate where the extended family has retreated to a survivalist-style farm.  She finds solace in running through Central Park and in spending time with her secret boyfriend Zach.   When Zach is found dead, Micah’s few places of solace are shattered.  School becomes unbearable as every lie she’s ever told makes her the immediate object of scorn as her secret relationship is revealed; her home life also comes apart as she graples with years of pent-up disappointments and misunderstandings; and her own guilt and fears about the burden of her lies and the secret she’s covering up weighs too heavily upon her shoulders. 

Suspenseful, fast-moving, unnerving, aggravating, thoroughly captivating – you cannot turn away because you have to find out the truth.  Larbalestier’s psychological picture of Micah is complex and superbly crafted; the reader can’t decide if we should feel sympathy for Micah or anger towards her for deliberately misleading us again and again.  Larbalestier creates a character who is both real and completely artificial.  The art of lying and the art of storytelling seem to be cut from the same cloth, as Micah (and Larbalestier) demonstrate so convincingly here, weaving together an artful cloak that shimmers and changes from every angle.

  • Posted by Cori

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