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LIE    by Caroline Bock order for
by Caroline Bock
Order:  USA  Can
Griffin, 2011 (2011)
Softcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

As Caroline Bock's Lie opens, several teens are being questioned by police regarding a hate crime, in which two young men from El Salvador were viciously beaten, the elder now hanging by a thread at death's door in hospital.

Vulnerable seventeen-year-old Mathlete geek Skylar Thompson claims to know nothing, though it's very clear from the beginning that she was present and knows a great deal. Skylar's controlling boyfriend Jimmy and Sean (her next door neighbor and childhood friend) were arrested but Sean (whose parents are wealthy) is out on bail. Jimmy, who was there for Skylar when she needed him after her mother died and is her first love, is in the county jail. Skylar's best friend Lisa Marie was with her the night in question and constantly reminds her of their mantra, 'Everybody knows, nobody's talking.'

The story is told in a variety of voices and from very different perspectives. We hear from Skylar (the most frequent narrator), Sean, Lisa Marie, Skylar's father, the school principal, the victims' mother (who flies in from El Salvador), Carlos Cortez (the younger victim), the school football coach, a police officer, and Jimmy's bigoted dad. Though Jimmy told Sean to 'Stay strong', he has trouble breathing and wonders what made him - and all his peers - follow wherever Jimmy led. Lisa Marie sees it as her role to 'keep everyone on the same page' and protect Jimmy, whom everyone in school admired and who led regular beany-hopping outings.

The question of what exactly happened and what Skylar will do pulls reader interest through the story. Skylar knows Jimmy was wrong but she loves him. Ultimately it takes a further tragedy and her math teacher's discussion of the relevance of calculus to real life to help Skylar understand what action to take. Along the way, she and her father (who have drifted apart since her mother's death) find each other again. Caroline Bock makes Skylar very real as she portrays her struggle between loyalty to her boyfriend and loyalty to herself and the values she grew up with. I highly recommend LIE to you for its excellent treatment of a tough topic.

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