Lies My Girlfriend Told Me by Julie Anne Peters Review

Monday, July 7, 2014

Title: Lies My Girlfriend Told Me
Author: Julie Anne Peters (Twitter)
Publisher: Little, Brown BYR
Publish Date: June 10, 2014
Genre: YA, LGBT Contemporary
Pages: 256
Source: Publisher

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.


  1. Sounds like a lovely thought provoking YA read that is diverse in both gender and it's topics. This actually sounds like a really great book that explores LGBT and life in depth, and not just centers on the fact that the MC is lesbian. Lovely review Melissa!

  2. I like that their sexuality is what it is, and it's not about questioning it, and the rest of the plot sounds quite intriguing too, even if some aspects were a little hard to believe :)

    Mands @ The Bookish Manicurist

  3. I'm just not an insta-love fan but I can see falling for someone after a tragedy -- more of a gap girlfriend, I guess. Hard to lose someone you love, especially when you're so young.

  4. I loved Luna by Julie Ann Peters but haven't had a chance to read another of her novels yet. I may just have to check this one out. Despite the issues you had with it, it still sounds like a very interesting read. Thanks for the review!

  5. This is one of those contemporaries that I'd have to read sooner than later, since I've decided that I need to read more diverse books!
    Great review, Melissa!

  6. I tend to stray away from books with LGBT themes too, Melissa, because I'm always worried that it will make use of stereotypes. This does look like an interesting read, but I'm not convinced that I will be OK with the insta-love. I do appreciate that the focus of the story is not on their sexuality though.
    Great review, Melissa! :)

  7. I need to start challenging myself to read books that I wouldn't normally read, especially more diverse ones or LGBT ones. This book certainly sounds intriguing, though I'm not a fan of the whole instalove between the two girls. But maybe, like you said, it helps them deal with their grief? I might have to read this one in the future, and I'm glad you enjoyed it for the most part. Great review! :D

  8. I haven't heard too much about this one and while the themes seem really strong, I'm not sure that's enough to have me reading this. Lovely review, Melissa!

  9. This sounds like a great book. I've been meaning to read LGBT novels myself. I'll be keeping this book in mind for future reads in that genre. Great review, Melissa! :)


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