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The Secret to Lying
The Secret to Lying
by Todd Mitchell
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.99
35 used & new from $0.12

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sharp, funny, dark, and compelling. A point-blank exploration of teen image issues., June 13, 2010
This review is from: The Secret to Lying (Hardcover)
This book really surprised me. I've read other reviews that compared it to John Green's Looking for Alaska, probably because it takes place in a boarding school, with witty, intelligent characters who pull lots of pranks. But beyond that, these books take very different paths.

The Secret to Lying is narrated by James, a high school sophmore who is desperate to be someone. So when he gets into a school for students gifted in math and science, he decides to reinvent himself as the person he literally always dreamed of being. He tells some outlandish lies, and the geeks believe him. But his new found fame comes with a price, as his identity fractures.

The book integrates three interlacing story lines in a totally unique way. One is James' quest to be popular. Another is an I.M. affair he carries out with the eloquent ghost44, who sees through his lies. And the third depicts James's internal struggle, as his fictionalizing of himself results in his being trapped in an a dark city overrun by demons where he fights to win control of what perhaps should not be controlled. It's a potent illustration of how all problems, in essence, exist in our minds.

There's some heavy stuff here --anorexia, cutting, drinking, and other self-destructive behaviors. What the Secret of Lying does fantastically well, though, is to explore the reasons behind such behaviors in a dramatic way that avoids simplification. Quite simply, it's a book about being. As a teacher, I'm always on the lookout for honest, interesting books to recommend to smart teens who are struggling to figure out how to be themselves. I'm also always on the lookout for books that might appeal to teen boys. This one definitely does both --and will go down with some of my all-time favorites such as The Perks of Being a Wallflower and The Catcher in the Rye as an edgy, honest, powerful book to remember and pass on.


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