Author: Julie Anne Peters (Twitter)
Publisher: Little, Brown BYR
Publish Date: June 10, 2014
Genre: YA, LGBT Contemporary
When Alix's charismatic girlfriend, Swanee, dies from sudden cardiac arrest, Alix is overcome with despair. As she searches Swanee's room for mementos of their relationship, she finds Swanee's cell phone, pinging with dozens of texts sent from a mysterious contact, L.T. The most recent text reads: "Please tell me what I did. Please, Swan. Te amo. I love you."Shocked and betrayed, Alix learns that Swanee has been leading a double life--secretly dating a girl named Liana the entire time she's been with Alix. Alix texts Liana from Swanee's phone, pretending to be Swanee in order to gather information before finally meeting face-to-face to break the news.Brought together by Swanee's lies, Alix and Liana become closer than they'd thought possible. But Alix is still hiding the truth from Liana. Alix knows what it feels like to be lied to--but will coming clean to Liana mean losing her, too?
I've been working to challenge myself more here on the blog with types of novels that might have scared me away when I first started reviewing young adult. Contemporary was the first big hurdle for me, in that I had to realize that not all contemporary novels were trite and cliche. LGBT novels have been a long time coming for me because I wanted to convince myself that these novels can hold more power than just preaching - and that they could transcend the norm in YA and show us true diversity. Lies My Girlfriend Told Me epitomizes stretching my boundaries and reading a novel that portrays two beautiful, powerful and broken relationships in the best possible way, offering readers exactly what we'd expect and more. Julie Ann Peters shows us that this is a book about navigating teenage life, loss and love - not just about being gay.
I think that it must be said that there is an innate power in Lies My Girlfriend Told Me, simply with the fact that Ms. Peters is showing us society is growing, evolving and changing with the times. While we know our protagonists are lesbians, it's actually not the central theme of the novel. The theme is love and loss, with characters who happen to be gay, have very real relationships and navigate the same sorts of drama we might see in every other novel. It was beautiful to see that the author didn't trivialize the sexuality of her characters, but she didn't exploit it either, which made the story all the more powerful.
Alix was a very broken and confused character with whom I could empathize right away. Her story and the death of her girlfriend was tragic and heartbreaking - only to be compounded upon by the revelation that there was another girl in the picture. Watching her navigate the grief, the loss and the betrayal felt true and honest, though I must say I was thrown off slightly by the budding relationship with Liana. I appreciated Liana's character for the depth and emotion that she provided, as well as the secondary perspective of such a great loss. I just didn't necessarily agree with their sort of insta-love connection. That said, however, grief is different for everybody, so it might have been their coping mechanism.
In the end, though I wasn't entirely sold on the instantaneous connection between our leading ladies, I was sold on how poignant this novel was and how much anyone can relate to it. Addressing powerful subject matter with well-developed characters, Lies My Girlfriend Told Me is a novel I'll be suggesting to anyone looking for a challenging, thought-provoking read. I give it a high 3 out of 5, and I definitely recommend to fans of young adult, especially those who enjoy contemporary and LGBT novels.
I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.