Hi Virtually readers! Sometimes, I like to read multiple perspectives books. This one has seven different central characters, but I was so impressed with how the author handled that and the story, adding lots of interesting elements along the way. It was very entertaining– I read it all in one day.
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—from Kat, the thespian who conceals her trust issues onstage, to 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 seven unlikely allies at the heart of it all, the collision of their seven ordinary-seeming lives results in extraordinary change. (blurb and cover from goodreads)
The cover has the seven deadly sins on it. Each character has a ‘sin’ attached. What I liked, though, is that it wasn’t super obvious which characters had whih sins. I’m pretty certain about four characters but on the fence about a couple as well. Looking out for each flaw added another element to the story, and made the characters deeper. It’s tempting to turn contemporary YA into ‘issue’ books, each focused on a problem that teenagers deal with. But the thing is, teenagers deal with lots of problems, and respond to them in different ways and in different places. But with the sins as focal points (that sounds weird to say but I’m rolling with it) Riley Redgate can examine ‘contemporary teen issues’ in a real way. Because the thing is that no ‘issue’ comes up on its own: they are compounded, compacted–and they don’t take up the totality of your life.
Riley Redgate is younger than most authors–the author bio said that she finished her undergrad degree in 2016. I think that really shows in the voice of the novel. Each character has a distinct voice (one character has all of her sections in free verse which was an interesting choice but done quite well), which is important as there are so! many! of them (that said most of the relationshisp are within the seven central characters because otherwise it would be a lot to keep track of). The dialogue is especially exceptional. Tbh, the way the characters talk reminded me of the person who recommended this to me. I don’t talk in quite the same way, but it still felt familiar–lots of uses of ‘super’ and so on. I’ve been reading some non-YA books recently which is great and makes me feel Grown Up ™ even though lol I’m eighteen. Anyway, there were sections in this which reminded me that I love YA because YA gets being a teenager (sorta).
“A lot of the time I worry that I am a terrible person and just haven’t had it confirmed yet.”
“Sometimes you go a long time having fooled yourself into thinking that you’re as grown-up as you’ll ever be, or that you’re more mature than the rest of the world thinks you are, and you live in this state of constant self assurance, and for a while nothing can upset you from this pedestal you’ve built for yourself, because you imagine yourself to be so capable. And then somebody does something that takes a golf club to your ego, and suddenly you’re nine years old again.”
Those are two things I feel all the time and it’s always nice to be understood.
I mentioned that this bookengages with a lot of issues. For how many characters and situations Riley Redgate is juggling, I think she does an exceptionally good job. The central issue that the plot (there’s not much of a plot though) is shaped around is a teacher student relationship. This is a dodgy topic, and obviously a culmination of bad decisions and almost indefensible and also something that has never intersected with my real life. All that aside I thought the way she dealt with it was…okay but not much more than that. IDK. Seven Ways We Lie also touches on drug dealing and abuse; alcohol abuse; absent or disengaged parents (so common in YA. Claire’s parents seemed normal but they didn’t really appear in the story); friendship complications and associated risks of growing up. It’s not a super serious book, despite all that.
The characters, for how little page time they get, are surpisingly rounded. There’s Kat, unable to figure out how to fill the hole her mother left behind; Olivia, Kat’s twin, fiercely defensive of her sexual choices but confused beyond that; Juniper, one of Olivia’s best friends, who only looks perfect; Claire, Olivia and Juniper’s other best friend, afraid of losing people; Matt, stuck in one place, family escaping; Valentine, shut off, focused only on academic success, accidentally entangled; and Lucas, Claire’s ex boyfriend, trying to figure out how to tell the truth to the people around him. All characters are compelling, flawed, and able to grow through the story, which is quite the achievement. oh, and there’s lots of diversity!
This book is quick to read, and absorbing and enjoyable. It made me feel a little more understood. What more could I ask?
Have you read this? What’s your favourite multiple perspective book? I’d love to know!