Book Review: Where the Truth Lies

At first glance, Where the Truth Lies by Jessica Warman, seems  fit the stereotypical mold of many novels: young girl+bad boy+secrets  = drama, which is usually not one of my preferred genres. But something seemed to tell me that this book was worth picking up, and I was glad that I listened to my intuition.   Where the Truth Lies is really much, much more. Emily, the main character, seems to have it all. She has great friends, loving parents, and with her father being the headmaster at the ritzy private school she attends. She has about as perfect a situation as it can get.  But she also has terrifying nightmares about fire and water, which a succession of therapists  have been unable to unravel.

Enter Del, a brilliant but troubled student whose foster parents have suddenly placed him at the school.  Del is a typical “bad boy”, with good look s, a mysterious attitude, and penchant for breaking the rules.   Predictably, Emily soon falls for him, and out of the throng of girls swooning over him, he is attracted to her as well. Just as predictably, she is sternly warned by her parents to stay away from Del. Initially, the story stays with the curve of predictability, and Emily becomes pregnant. But suddenly, the story veers into dark uncharted territory involving Emily’s nightmares, Del’s past.  I was fairly certain that I knew what the plot was leading up to, but I was very mistaken. The story turns out to be rife with the unexpected, and each level is more unexpected than the last.  Emily deals with very mature and serious issues that teens increasingly face in our changing world.

The book is helped immensely by the supporting characters.   These include Emily’s best friends Frannie, Stephanie, and Grace. Plus Stephanie’s handsome brother Ethan, who invites Emily to sing in his band.  Even more interesting is Renee, their snobby dorm-mate who turns out to be a better friend than anyone would ever guess in yet another plot twist that the reader does not see coming.   There are no heroes or villains.  Each person has good and bad points, which are utterly realistic.   Even when Emily seems to be just a good-girl-making-bad-decisions, all of her decisions are understandable.  The risks even appear acceptable, though the reader has a strong feeling that these decisions might not be the best.  We’ve all been there.

In the end, the answers turn out to be more shocking than even I had anticipated. The usual plot devices  are avoided as each decision leads down paths that are unforeseen, yet completely believable. A second reading was practically mandatory for me, which is a real rarity.  I  recommend this book to anyone who loves a suspenseful, yet realistic  story.

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