SLJ Blog Network
little blue lies 9781442440081 lg Little Blue LiesLittle Blue Lies, Chris Lynch
Simon & Schuster, March 2014
Reviewed from ARC

Printz Honor Book author Chris Lynch’s latest novel is a brief, quirky tale of two teens who aren’t meant to be together. No, they’re not star-crossed lovers, rather Oliver and Junie’s relationship is too glib and shallow to ever have been the foundation for something meaningful. Despite this, Oliver spends most of the novel chasing June (literally and figuratively).

Full disclosure: I read this book in January for the SLJ review section. I enjoyed reading this book. It’s offbeat, reads quickly, and speaks to that real anxiety about the future that all teens experience at some point. Possibly the most important factor in my enjoyment was that I read it in the midst of a lot of Printz blog reading and reviewing and immediately after finishing Zadie Smith’s bleak and challenging (in a good way) NW. It hit me at the right time.

Over eight months later, it’s harder and harder to remember anything extraordinary about Little Blue Lies.

I still like this book, by the way. The story is kind of bizarre and fun, and I think for some teens this will be perfect light reading. Yes, I know hiding from the mob is not exactly kittens and unicorns, but the premise is given a sitcom-esque treatment so it’s hard to criticize the book for being a lark.

Lynch gives his narrator, Oliver, a dry sense of humor and clever dialogue, which is less authentic than it is aspirational. It mostly works, but all of the characters share the same stylized sound.

Stylistically then, the plot and voice work together, but the themes Lynch wants to address—specifically abuse and privilege—don’t necessarily fit in. By the end of the novel, Oliver has to come to terms with the fact that his optimistic worldview is influenced by his financial security. His realization though, feels shallow because it’s preceded by some highly improbable and goofy situations.

Junie’s development is more interesting and believable because she’s initially presented as a mystery. Is she evading the mob in order to get out of paying them her lottery winnings? Where did she go? This sarcastic girl who easily spins lies about her life is set up as someone Oliver wants to save. The truth of her is so much better than the Junie in Oliver’s head. She’s just a girl. Worried about her future, she runs away. The only way she understands her life is in negatives. She knows she doesn’t want to be like her family (with the cartoonishly bad father) but she has no idea who she is or wants to be. It’s a revelation that feels earned and authentic.

Little Blue Lies doesn’t have any buzz, as far as I can tell, and hasn’t earned any stars since it’s January debut, which means it’s not likely to be in the Printz conversation for 2015. However, previous winners and honorees always warrant a close look. So what do you think, dear readers? Is this a hidden gem we’re all wrong about? Comment away!

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