The Seven Ways We Lie follows seven teenagers and each of them are struggling with one particular deadly sin, set against the scandal of a student/teacher love affair and the election of junior class president.
I was ridiculously excited when I read the blurb for this book. It was looking pretty great: debut novel written by a university undergraduate (one of my favourite things to discover), rag tag group of
five seven, I was ready for this to be the next Breakfast Club. Bring it on.
And what I got was a beautiful written story, completely full of character depth, that I could not put down at all.
The Seven Ways We Lie is mostly a character based story, there is some plot, as outlined above, but it’s mostly focused on the seven teens and their self-image and relationships with one another. At first I was annoyed by the lack of plot, but when I got thinking about what rating I was going to give this book, I couldn’t think of any reason why it didn’t deserve a hecka bunch of stars. The seven different POVs – yes, seven – are completely unique and original and once I got to know each character I didn’t need the subtitle of their names to know who was narrating.
C H A R A C T E R S
Olivia (Lust): one of the most popular girls at school, but she’s considered to be a ‘slut’ because she has a lot of one night stands and knows how to have a good time. I’m not entirely sure which sin she was supposed to represent, so I’ve put her as lust even though this seems to be too restricting. Side note: After having a good ol’ chat with Sarah from Stacks of Sarah about this book, she made an extremely good point about the fact that people aren’t so black and white, you can’t put them into one box (or, in this case, one sin) so it’s probably a good thing that Olivia’s sin wasn’t so clear cut, in fact quite a few of these characters could fall into one or more category and trying to puzzle them out – because they are anything but overt – was one of the reasons why this novel was so fun! Olivia in many ways felt like the main protagonist of all the main protagonists. It’s her POV that we end on and I feel like her ending was wrapped up in the prettiest bow. Her sections were probably my favourite and I loved her interaction with all the other characters because she was so witty and nerdy – not at all like the usual high school stereotype you would usually prescribe to the promiscuous character – as well as being super forgiving. I’m glad she got her happy ending!
Kat (Wrath): Olivia’s sister. Now, her sin was probably the most obvious, and although we don’t get to the root of her problem until the very end how it’s dealt with through the story is incredible. Kat’s working on a play and the intertextuality or the play acts as a mirror and vehicle for Kat’s problems at the same time. I also loved Kat’s personality, as I related to her the most. She was introverted and liked to spend her time playing games. She also could overstep boundaries and often didn’t know when to stop. Her POVs were always full of tension but they were completely necessary to understanding Olivia too.
Claire (Envy): Claire might have been my least favourite character? Probably because I saw a lot of myself in her too. The whole concept is great because you really do identify with at least one, if not more, of the characters, and they things that they’re going through are probably similar to situations readers have been in too. Claire was an excellent example of the fact that people aren’t always who you think they are. Underneath they can be really insecure, which can make them volatile, especially if they have no one to talk to.
Juniper (Gluttony): Juni’s sections are literal poetry. I’m not an expert n poetry, so I wouldn’t know how to classify it, but I guess it was free verse? Juniper’s character was probably explored the least, as the Scott twins take up the majority of the character focus, but through inference you learn a lot about her – especially from Claire, who’s one of her best friends. Everyone probably knows a Juni – aka. all around great girl.
Lucas (Greed): This guy though. I wanted more of him. Lucas was pretty much a vehicle for discovering and lecturing about sexuality. One of my favourite scenes was probably where he tells a certain character how it is when they try and make his being gay about them. Uh no. Lucas is a drug dealer who gets a lot of cash and likes to buy nice things. His sins weren’t really resolved, which was pretty disappointing in hindsight. He’s also more of a peripheral character, someone who comes up in the other’s narratives instead.
Matt (Sloth): Main love interest extraordinaire, and also a bit of comic relief. Also repinn’ POCs to add some diversity to the mix. This kid’s everything! Basically the cast of characters is like a Disney Channel Original Movie, except without all the singing. I liked him a lot, I really did. I also loved his best friend (and really wanted him to have his own POV, but that would make eight, and where do you draw the line?) He had his own problems, and again his sin was pretty hard to identify, but maybe he’s sloth, who knows?
Valentine (Pride): Valentine was probably one of the most interesting characters in this book. His narrative stood out from the rest and I think we’re supposed to infer that he’s somewhere on the asperger’s scale/ or autistic? He’s the one to discover who the student is that’s having a relationship with the teacher, and he struggles with loyalty and friendships. He’s pretty misunderstood, but I like to think that he has a relatively happy ending. I love that he didn’t stray from who he was, he didn’t try and trick himself into doing something just because it would make someone else happy. Also, I think this is the first asexual character I’ve ever seen in YA – although I think it could imply that asexuals are only those suffering from asperger’s, when that’s not the case at all, but then again to try and qualify this might have made it seem like the author was trying way too hard to be inclusive, which this book does have some of those vibes.
M E S S A G E S
Olivia had some really great things to say about “my body is my body, not yours”, consent, and the hypocrisy of how girls that have a lot of sex are viewed compared to men. Kat emphasises that it’s okay to be angry, but it’s not healthy to be angry all the time and sometimes you have to let go. Claire makes you realise how important good mental health can be. Also, you shouldn’t compare yourself to other no matter what! There’s a whole bunch more but you should totally read it to find out!
V E R D I C T
If you like tumblr rights then this is the perfect book for you. The prose is beautiful and I highlighted SO MANY THINGS that I’ll put into cute typography and stick on my walls. I could literally go on and on about this book for ages because it’s so simple, yet so complex at the same time. Just read it, seriously! And when you do make sure to tell me which sins you think are represented by which character!