The Best Liars in Riverview

Little, Brown. Mar. 2022. 336p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780316276726.
Gr 5-8–It’s the summer before seventh grade and Aubrey’s best friend Joel is missing. No one in the small town of Riverview, KY, can figure out why. Aubrey has a pretty good idea, but she’s not telling the full truth of what she thinks happened. “Grown-ups are supposed to fix things. They’re not supposed to pretend everything’s okay…Maybe I’m not the only one who’s been telling lies.” Joel, who is biracial (one parent is Black, one is white), and Aubrey, who is white, both struggle with self-identity, but when they’re together they can be their true selves—be it a fairy, an elf, gay, trans, or a runaway. Running away has been on the top of the agenda lately, given events with the bully at school and the lack of approval Joel finds at home. Aubrey sets out on an adventure to find Joel and along the way she ends up finding herself. Told in first person, Thompson’s tale will have readers guessing up until the very end. From beautiful outdoor descriptions of forested Kentucky and Mammoth State Park, readers will get a sense of the trails, camping, nature, animals, insects, and importance of respecting the land, even as the main character is in pursuit of her best friend, knowing her parents are worried sick about her. Each chapter is titled, giving a small hint of what’s to come.
VERDICT A gratifying middle grade read for students who enjoy tales of adventure and belonging.

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