The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett, by Chelsea Sedoti (2017)

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett, by Chelsea SedotiWhen the beautiful Lizzie Lovett disappears after a reportedly happy evening of camping with her boyfriend, Hawthorn Creely’s high school is buzzing with excitement. Not much happens in Griffin Mills, and Hawthorn is quick to join the locals in speculating on the cause of Lizzie’s disappearance, even while the search parties are frantically combing the woods around the campsite where she was last seen. Hawthorn’s older brother Rush, who dated Lizzie when they were seniors in high school, is apparently devastated, which strikes Hawthorn as odd since they haven’t spoken in years. Now a senior herself, Hawthorn recalls the kindness Lizzie once showed her, followed by a mortifying snub that still hurts. She finds a morbid delight in musing about Lizzie’s whereabouts, confident that nothing bad could happen to such a golden girl. But the more she learns about Lizzie, the more she realises how difficult it is to reconcile other’s conflicting stories who this young woman is. Is she kind, or a bully? Is she enjoying her life as a single woman or longing to return to her peak popularity in high school? Hawthorn decides to find out more, and ends up inserting herself into Lizzie’s life, hoping to uncover the truth of what happened that fateful night of camping. I love Hawthorn! Sedoti has perfectly captured the complexity of being a teen – naive innocence and jaded worldliness mixed with dread and excitement of what the future holds. I can only describe her as mercurial. She snaps and snipes at her brother, desperately holds on to her belief in magic, and yet remains fearful that the future will bring only disappointment. She is a prickly soul who wants to be loved as she struggles to accept she is perhaps, with effort, lovable, despite accepting the fact she is one weird teen. Piss her off and she’ll wish three or four vengeful outcomes, what she calls “bad thoughts,” that will leave you cheering her on: “I wished Mychelle and her stupid jock buddy would win the lottery and lose the ticket. I wished they would only ever be able to take cold showers. I wished every glass of lemonade they drank for the rest of their lives would be just a little too sour.” High school bullying occurs throughout the book, and Hawthorn’s best (only?) friend Emily wisely reminds Hawthorn that all things will pass. But even Emily loses her patience when Hawthorn, having taken a job at the diner where Lizzie worked, starts hanging out with the very boyfriend who woke up alone in the tent when Lizzie disappeared. Hawthorn’s certain he’s innocent, but she still doesn’t know why Lizzie left, or where she is. Is Lizzie even alive? While the cast is rather white bread (no discussion of race or sexuality other than hetero) this mystery is at heart an encouraging message for those struggling with difference during the high school years. With realistic situations and authentic dialogue, this coming of age novel is one I’m recommending, and look forward to more from this young writer. My thanks to publisher Sourcebooks Fire for the advance reading copy, provided through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
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