Lies I Told by Michelle Zink – A Book Review

Goodreads_CoverGrace knows that everyone lies. She also knows that she’s living one.

To the outside world, she is part of the perfect family: devoted parents, loving brother. She is a girl with the world at her fingertips. What the world doesn’t know is that it’s all a lie, a carefully constructed one.

She is part of a family of con-artists. Adopted at a young age, she is part of the con. In exchange for her work, she has a family, such as it is. It’s preferable to the life she left behind, one of foster care and abuse. Now she has safety, as long as she follows the rules.

They travel all over looking for the next mark, the next job, the next person to steal from: money, art, bonds, nothing is safe Grace is used to this, for it’s the only life she’s ever known. However, sometimes, she wishes she were just a regular teenager, able to have friends, to have a life of her own.

It’s always the same, though. They move in, set up house, find their mark and pull their con. Then they move on, leaving everything and everyone behind. Or, in Grace’s case, almost everything.

She knows it goes against the code of the con-artist, but she has a small wooden box containing items from her different pasts to remind her of who she was and who she is. Grace knows that it’s wrong to hold onto anything from a previous con, but she holds on to her keepsakes nonetheless as if she’s gathering pieces of herself.

Everything changes when they find themselves in Playa Hermosa. The mark is a wealthy family and the heist will be their largest yet. She has one job: get close to the son, Logan, to find an in into the family.

She integrates herself into school, makes friends with others and all is going according to plan. What she didn’t count on was falling for Logan. He was supposed to be just another part of the heist. She had used boys to achieve her means before, but had never fallen for one.

This time, the emotions she feels for Logan are all too real. She has trouble distinguishing between the Logan she loves and Logan the mark.

Things begin to unravel for Grace when one of the other high school students finds an old high school photo ID that Grace was stupid enough to take to school with her. She had been using it as a talisman of sorts to give her strength.

Now it could mean her downfall…

In short, I was blown away by this book. Lies I Told isn’t just a novel that you read. It’s a novel that you feel, that seeps into you; one that leaves you feeling a kind of shell shock when it’s over. What I loved most about it was the underlying sense of unease worked all throughout the novel. You can’t escape the sense that something will go wrong.

That’s an incredible feat for any author to carry throughout a whole novel. Michelle Zink manages to do this with aplomb, never letting up the suspense for a moment. Add to it one of the most moving young love stories I’ve ever read and you’ve got yourself a winner.

This is Zink’s first novel that has no fantasy elements whatsoever and it’s an incredible success. You can tell that she’s done her research for this novel, nothing feels too heavy handed or fake. She brings you into a family of con-artists and it’s like we’re there with her. We sense the danger, the unease, the upset.

What really worked for me was the characters and how real they were. Logan, Parker and Grace were the stand outs for me. Logan goes beyond the standard book boyfriend in the YA genre and is a real man, full of compassion and honesty. Parker is a surprise for me. He knows what he must do but fights against it. He’s in a constant state of breakdown.

Grace is the real stand out for me, though. She isn’t really a heroine but an ant-hero. However, you can’t help but feel for her, following her along on her struggle to do what is right and what her heart wants. Michelle writes so well that you can’t help but be pulled into Grace’s plight, loving Logan right along with her and dreading what she must do.

This was a thrill ride the whole way through and the ending will leave you breathless. Lies I Told is really the best book that Michelle Zink has written, and I’ve read them all. This is Zink’s most accomplished novel, her most adult YA. It deals with themes that aren’t normally dealt with in YA literature and succeeds because of this.

I can’t wait to read Lies I Told all over again.

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