Title: The Lies They Tell
Author : Gillian French
Publication Date: 05/01/18
The town of Tenney’s Harbor, Maine is your typical, small-town summer getaway destination, where a fine, societal line exists between the wealthy summer residents and the blue collar “townies”.
A year ago, this small town was shaken by the shocking murder of the prestigious Garrison family. Someone shot and killed the Garrisons, then setting fire to their home. The only remaining Garrison was 17 year-old Tristan.
As if the murder itself wasn’t shock enough to the town, Pearl Haskin’s family is effected by the murder in a way that turns their world upside down. Her father, who works as a caretaker for the expensive properties of the summer folk, was working for the Garrisons on the night of the fire, and therefore had to bear the brunt of speculation and police questioning. Ultimately, Win Haskin lost all of his current jobs and recommendations, leaving their family in a financial hole and pushing him toward the bottle.
But it’s that time of year again and the ‘boys of summer’ are returning to their vacation homes. When Tristan and his pose of polo-clad pals start attending meals at the clubhouse where Pearl works, she starts to slowly integrate herself into their lives.
How much information can Pearl find out? Can she succeed where the police have thus far failed? And what dangers might lie behind doing so?
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This is a great YA contemporary/mystery. While the mystery of the Garrison murder is always just below the surface and the ultimate priority of Pearl’s every move, the plot is very much character driven. We learn so much about not only Pearl and her family, but also about Tristan and his closest friends–Bridges and Akil. There are also several female characters that are originally perceived as very snooty and annoying (in my opinion.. as many ‘popular’ girls that age can come across), but throughout the novel you learn pieces of their own stories that make them have more depth and character.
Pearl will break you heart and will elicit so much respect from you for a girl of her age. At only 18-years-old, she has very much become the glue that holds her household together. Her father has spiraled down the drain after losing employment due to the Garrison case. He is very much struggling from alcoholism and has a very depressive outlook on life right now. Pearl becomes his caretaker and demonstrates a very strong work ethic for a teenager.
There is romance in this novel, but it is never the front-runner in the plot. Pearl experiences heartbreak and jealousy through a relationship with her best friend Reese and begins a slow-burning romance with one of Tristan’s best friends (as well as a very odd/mysterious relationship with Tristan himself).
The pacing was very slow, but I felt that was appropriate for the target age group for this novel (marketed for grades 9+). I am used to reading lots of police procedurals and crime thrillers, so I kept wanting to investigate more into the deaths of the Garrisons. But that is exactly what Pearl is doing–to the extent that an 18 year-old is able to do so. She literally Trojan Horses herself into this group of prestigious and arrogant boys in order to gain access to any information they might have in relation to the Garrison murder.
Overall, I really enjoyed this title! It was very nostalgic–we can all remember what it was like to be 18–young and free, but with so many burdens that seem beyond our control. Pearl is a strong female lead in that she does not stand back and let these burdens overtake her family. She is determined and headstrong and does what she has to do to protect her father (and her family).
Trigger Warning(s): Murder, Fire, Alcoholism, Child Abuse, Insinuated Sexual Assault
Thank you to Gillian French & HarperTeen for providing me with an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.