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*I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I wasn’t sure quite what to expect from Seven Ways We Lie before I started reading it, given that I’m not usually drawn to contemporary books, but what I got was an absolutely fantastic, compelling story that I simply could not put down! I wholeheartedly recommend it to everybody without hesitation! In case my overenthusiastic use of exclamation points isn’t enough to persuade you, here are my thoughts in more detail.

The Good:

What I particularly loved was that each or the seven key characters whose points of view we got to experience were so uniquely different from one another that for some of them the name on the header of each chapter became entirely superfluous. Not to mention the character development was superb. Character development for the win! No but seriously, I absolutely adored each and every one of the characters, like, all of them. Even those who didn’t have a point of view chapter of their own. They were all just so gorgeously complex and flawed and I was able to see a little bit of myself in each of them, which is I think what made them so relatable. I don’t think I have been that connected to and invested in a group of characters for a very long time. I wanted to high five Riley Redgate so badly.

seven ways we lieBeing so character driven, the story doesn’t have that much in the way of plot, but the central mystery of who is involved in the teacher/student liaison is enough to keep things moving forward and provides a decent backdrop for all of that wonderful character exploration. The pacing was consistent and there weren’t any moments when things slowed down or sped up too dramatically. None of the dialogue felt forced at all, and the romance, while central to the story, doesn’t overpower the rest of it. There are also sections written in verse that really add another layer to the whole novel.

The only other thing I can think to say is that the author managed to incorporate some very important messages into the story without being heavy handed about it: it talks about consent, how your body is yours and no-one else’s, the importance of family and above all, it reminds you to love yourself.

The Bad:

I confess that to begin with I was quick to dismiss this story as yet another contemporary that I would find myself disappointed by. After all there’s no magic, no warriors, no life and death fight sequences, pretty much none of what I usually look for in a book. Just how gripping can the lives of seven teenagers over the space of two weeks be, anyway? Turns out, pretty damn gripping. Normally this is the point where I’d suggest that people who like dramatic action sequences and plenty of plot ought to proceed with caution, but honestly, I’m that person and I loved it, so go ahead and read it anyway!

The Verdict:

These are definitely the easiest five stars I’ve ever given to a book of this genre. This entire novel was just beautiful in ways I don’t think I can fully describe; it was funny and thought-provoking and tragic and brilliant and I can only hope that my review does it justice. I definitely want to see more books out there like this one that portray teenagers so realistically; hats off to Redgate for writing something so spectacular. I now have absolutely no excuse for dismissing contemporary novels before I’ve read them and I cannot wait to see what else this author has to share.

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