“Seven ways we lie” Riley Redgate

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. 2016. Abrams.343 pp.

sevenwayswelieOlivia hates that her mother walked away from her family three years ago. Kat holes up in her room with Internet games. Matt fills his days getting high. Juniper is the perfect queen of Paloma High. Valentine is a loner. Lucas is everyone’s go to guy for beer and weed. Claire wonders why she can’t be like Olivia and Juniper.

When the news breaks that someone is involved in a secret affair with a teacher, everyone is shocked. Each of these students has the power to reveal the truth, yet they all have their own secrets. Are someone else’s secrets more important than your own? As truth and lies blend, this unlikely group of students become bound together in ways they never imagined.

“Seven Ways to Lie” was very thought provoking, with each character having their own chapter to articulate their issues and thought patterns. She challenges her readers to think about the “why” of situations, reminding them that things are not always as they seem.

Recommended for ages 14 and older.

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“This Song Will Save Your Life” Leila Sales

Rated 5 stars ***** 2013. Farrar Straus Giroux. 214 pp. (Includes “Recommended Listening” song list).

ThisSongWillSaveYourLifeSixteen-year-old Elise Dembowski hates herself, and her life. After being ostracized by every single student in her school since fourth grade, and having this behavior continue through middle and high school, she decided to spend her summer studying fashion, song titles and other “cool” trends. Elise was ready to remake herself, and was sure the popular kids would like and accept her if she knew the right ways to be popular. When the taunting and bullying continued, Elise realized she would never be different and could never change. Thus, she felt her only recourse was to kill herself.

With her suicide attempt unsuccessful, Elise was at the end of her rope. Unable to sleep, she began walking the streets late at night where she came upon a weekly underground dance club. Despite being underage she was befriended by Vicky and Pippa, two girls who knew what they wanted in life and went out to get it. They introduced her to handsome Char, the club’s DJ, who took her under his wing teaching her how to mix music and other skills.

Elise soon discovered she had a natural talent as a DJ, along with several friends and a new, albeit secret, life. Looking forward to spending time at the club helped make her miserable days at school more bearable, but it was only a matter of time before online bullying reared its ugly head threatening Elise’s newfound strength and happiness.

Leila Sales paints a true-to-life story of a young girl living on the edge who finds friends who care about her wellbeing. I hope her readers will take seriously the importance of being a friend to someone in need of social acceptance.

Recommended for readers aged 14 and older.

Listed on the ALA (American Library Association’s) Best Fiction for Young Adults list (compiled by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA)

“In Too Deep” Amanda Grace

Flux, 2012. Paperback. 228 pp.

Sam had known her next door neighbor and best friend Nick for 10 years, but never told him she loved him. She’d suffered through his on again-off again relationship with his ex, always hoping he’d notice her waiting in the background. He didn’t, so Sam decided to make him jealous.

A week before they graduated from their boring little high school in their boring little town, Sam spiced things up by pretending interest in Carter, the school’s golden boy and all around athlete, at his home party. After drunkenly approaching Carter in his bedroom, managing to fall down, bruise her eye, and rip her top all at the same time, Carter rejected her. As Sam stumbled out of Carter’s room, a passing student misinterpreted her tears and condition, spreading the rumor she’d been raped by Carter.

The next day, Sam’s wildest dreams came true when Nick admitted to having feelings for her. At school the next day strangers came up to her offering their support, and Sam was perplexed by the attention. However, when the rumor reached her ears, she was afraid to tell the truth because she didn’t want to lose Nick and felt Carter deserved it for what he’d said to her and how he’d acted towards other girls.

A long series of consequences followed, which usually arise whenever a rumor is left to grow unchecked and its hearers believe and spread it without having all the facts. Despite knowing the direction in which the rumor had taken, Sam was still unwilling to tell the truth as the rumor took on a life of its own. Soon, both Sam and Carter’s lives were negatively intertwined more than she had ever planned and, as time went on and despite her best intentions to tell Nick and others the truth, it became too difficult.

Through Sam and Carter’s eyes, Amanda Grace allowed readers to see what a rumor does to all those involved as it spreads. Hopefully, high school readers will realize the power of a rumor before they undertake to be the ones to give it life and breath.