Monday, October 19, 2009

Little Black Lies by Tish Cohen

Synopsis:

Sara Black might as well be wearing a scarlet letter on her school uniform when she walks into Anton High for the first time. Anton is no ordinary public school--you can't even get in after freshman year (unless, like Sara, your dad is the janitor). But when nobody knows your past, you can become a whole new person.

For Sara, being new is the perfect escape from being everything she's avoiding--like the fact that her mother has run off with her science teacher, and that her father's OCD is only barely under control. But when one of the most popular girls at Anton starts looking into Sara's past, her little lies could come back to haunt her...

Rating:

Character Development: 10/10
Originality: 6/10
Overall Enjoyment: 7/10
Ending: 9/10
Voice: 8/10
Setting: 8/10
Recommendation: 7/10
Total Score: 55/70

Grade: A

Age Appropriate?

Cussing: Some, but not too much.
Alcohol, Drugs, etc: Several scenes of teen drinking and drunkenness, some mentions of drug abuse and several smoking scenes, though not of main characters.
Sexual Content: A lot of discussion, some speculation, not much action. Sort of teen pregnancy (though not exactly...)
Disturbing Images/Violence: Some creepy-crazy OCD stuff, a scene of near-suicide.

Review:

A pleasant, interesting read, Little Black Lies was definitely worth the time I put into it. While I was expecting something a bit more wonky, this book was actually quite level-headed and straightforward--not that that's a bad thing, mind. I enjoyed the steady pace of the novel, as well as the detailed and natural voice of Sara. Her deliberation and decisions coincide very well with her character, a mixture of a nerdy adult girl and an insecure American teenager.

I was never wholly immersed in this novel, and I think that may be mostly because I didn't particularly like Sara. Her story and her "adventures" at Anton were captivating and serious, but the girl herself bothered me. She was...naive. She did improve as the story progressed, and by the end (which was a perfect conclusion, by the way) I cared about her a great deal. Also, though, the "bizarre" school didn't turn out to be so bizarre at all. it was just a regular (albeit genius) school with regular school drama. That was a tad bit disappointing. Just a tad.

One of my favorite things about Little Black Lies is something I've seen that many others have noticed in this book as well--the realistic consequences of her actions. In a Disney Channel movie, a girl in Sara's situation, who has made her decisions, would receive some kind of horrible punishment and come out of it feeling teary-eyed and regretful. Unfortunately, things in real life aren't always so clean. Sara's resolution--while suitably just--wasn't nearly as cheesy. It was simple, believable, and hopeful.

The characters carefully defied stereotypes while filling the roles of "popular girl" and "hot guy" and "nerd". These people, particularly the fascinating Carling Burnack, kept the story interesting and unpredictable. This book isn't just an every day high school drama--it's a story about love and family and acceptance and the lengths we are willing to go to fit in. Effectively scattered with extended metaphors and allusions to Crime and Punishment, Little Black Lies is a book with brains and spunk.

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