book review: Perfect Liar

+-+286271684_140title: Perfect Liars
author: Kimberly Reid
date: Tu Books/Lee & Low; 2016
main character: Andrea “Drea” Faraday
young adult realistic fiction

I was excited to see a new release from Kim Reid and for the most part, I was not let down. Perfect Liars is an innovative story that reflect today’s teens in their high risk behaviors, engagement with technology and diversity in friendships.

We meet Drea as she pulls into her upper class Atlanta driveway that it stocked with some of the most expensive décor around. This materialistic display is necessary to set the book’s tone. Drea is an extremely intelligent African American high school student returning home from an advanced summer school session. She has conflicts with her family’s background and is trying to find her own path in life. [SPOILER] Her older brother, with whom she has a close relationship, recently graduated from the police academy.  The second voice narrative takes us inside his head and begins to give him a prominent role in the story, but this doesn’t continue throughout this book. Reid also begins to explore how Drea’s relationship with him changes once he joins the force, but this is not developed throughout the story. In today’s atmosphere where the police are so much under question, it could have made for an interesting story line. [END SPOILER]

Drea is an extremely wishy washy character, the influences on her past are strong and she has to find the resolve within herself to change. She struggles with how much she has and how she got it. She initially judges those who are less affluent than her by her own standards but, through Reid’s skillful writing, Drea comes to see these peers for who they are and all they bring to the table, not as individuals who are lacking in some way. Her development over the arc of the book is minimal, but this is clearly intended to be a series.

I’m really trying to avoid giving away too much in the series. Key figures disappear in the book and those most affected just don’t seem that worried. That felt odd to me. Most of what is written in a book review is sheer opinion, although there are times when inconsistencies, inaccuracies, stereotypes and such can be documented. One such opinion I have relates to a conversation between Drea and Jason, one of her peers.

“Who was the girl I saw you with last Friday?”
“Hello to you, too.”
“You aren’t one of those guys, are you?” Drea asked. “The kind who call girls females?”
“When guys use it that way, it sounds vulgar for some reason. Or, like we’re prey on one of the animal shows on TV.”
“Does every girl think that?” Jason asked, looking truly puzzled, as though this had never occurred to him.
“Yes, every one of us, including the girl you saw me with. Just a heads up, since you’re clearly interested.” (p. 239)

I felt a strong author voice here and I disagreed with it so much, particularly when this young lady used ‘girl’. The males in the book were guys, not boys. These are juniors and seniors in high school, not children. Yes, it hit a sore spot with me because I view ‘girls’ as children and other readers may not have any problem with this at all. But, this type of honest writing leads to discussion and gets readers considering the words they use, how they refer to others and the difference it makes. They may or may not agree with the author, but I’m sure she’ll have them thinking.

As with The Reader, I thought this one was much tighter at the end. Oh, these series! They have to hook us don’t they? And this one does.

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