Title: Seven Ways We Lie
Author: Riley Redgate
Publisher: Amulet Books
Publication date: March 8th 2016
Buy at: BookDepository
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—whether it’s Kat, the thespian who conceals her trust issues onstage; or 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 unlikely allies at the heart of it all, the collision of their seven ordinary-seeming lives results in extraordinary change.
I’ve always shied away from high school contemporary stories. Unless it comes as highly recommended from friends or has diverse in characters and/or story, chances are I won’t look at the book. More often than not, it’s simply not my kind of story. But Seven Ways We Lie was. I am nothing but thankful to the wonderful Dahlia Adler for talking so much about the book on Twitter.
What made me pick it up exactly? Knowing it features a pansexual character and one who reads as aromantic asexual. It’s rare to see characters of either sexuality, let alone of both, so I had to give it a try. Yet, while I did come for those, I stayed for the rest of the cast, the prose, and, well, every word in this phenomenal story.
You see, Seven Ways We Lie is a highly relatable book. There are seven PoVs, each with an unique voice, take on life, thoughts, hobbies, and, of course, their own share of problems. You may be thinking something along the lines of “that’s all well and good, but isn’t seven characters too much?” In most circumstances, I’d be tempted to agree. However, all of them have ample screen time and time to develop, and all are important for the plot. What’s more, they are all so rounded it’s only too easy to find at least one with whom you are similar in non frivolous ways. Personally? I found five.
Despite age differences, I could relate to these characters more deeply than in many books. Every thought that crossed their mind, no matter how terrible, was laid bare on the page. They were flawed, they were perfect, they were human. And they all had big issues to deal with. Issues the author did not shy away from. From drugs, to a student-teacher relationship, to parental divorce, to sexism, to friend jealousy, it has a bit of everything, and everything is very well dealt with. Yes, I did say everything.
Including the sexuality diversity. As an aromantic asexual, to read a story with a character who read as one was not only a breath of fresh air, but a little like finally coming home. That’s not to say that the representation was perfect, as it reiterated a few clichés like reclusiveness and being bad with people. And yet, many of the thoughts that ran through this character’s head are common among the aro-ace. And yet, the character arc was perfect. And yet, the end of his story was the end I had hoped for since the start but thought I would not get, because that’s not how it goes in YA. But this once, it did. I am so thankful for Redgate to have written this character that I cannot be upset that his sexuality was not specifically named. I simply cannot. I only wish I had met him when I was younger.
Seven Ways We Lie is the story I needed and longed for as a teen. It’s a story I still need and will find myself reading time and again. It’s diverse, it’s touching, it’s honest. It’s everything I could have wanted in a contemporary book and more. If Seven Ways We Lie is an indication of what Redgate’s future books will be like, I can safely say this is an author to look out for.
The book in a quote
“You don’t realize how alone you are until you let yourself out of your cage, or until someone finds a way inside. And now that Lucas has found his way in, here I am against the bars, terrified he might slip right back out again.”