Thank you to Atria and Netgalley for the chance to read and review this novel.
I will rarely be recorded saying this, and I know I will be in a very small majority, but I absolutely hated this book. It hurts me to say something so negative about a debut novel, but I just could not feel anything but happiness over finishing this story.
In such a character-driven novel, completely loathing the main characters makes liking the book nearly impossible. The beginning of the story had its moments and I was hoping I would see something new happening, but as the story crept on, the same events continued to repeat. It felt endless. After about 60% of the way through this novel, I was so fed up with the characters, I had to start skimming. I couldn’t take much more of their nonstop drivel. Sadly, the biggest thing I found through skimming this novel, was that I was still able to understand it perfectly without reading every word. To me, it shows what little substance was actually within the pages of this story.
Lucy Albright is far from her Long Island upbringing when she arrives on the campus of her small California college, and happy to be hundreds of miles from her mother, whom she’s never forgiven for an act of betrayal in her early teen years. Quickly grasping at her fresh start, Lucy embraces college life and all it has to offer—new friends, wild parties, stimulating classes. And then she meets Stephen DeMarco. Charming. Attractive. Complicated. Devastating.
Confident and cocksure, Stephen sees something in Lucy that no one else has, and she’s quickly seduced by this vision of herself, and the sense of possibility that his attention brings her. Meanwhile, Stephen is determined to forget an incident buried in his past that, if exposed, could ruin him, and his single-minded drive for success extends to winning, and keeping Lucy’s heart.
Alternating between Lucy’s and Stephen’s voices, Tell Me Lies follows their connection through college and post-college life in New York City. Deep down, Lucy knows she has to acknowledge the truth about Stephen. But before she can free herself from this addicting entanglement, she must confront and heal her relationship with her mother—or risk losing herself in a delusion about what it truly means to love.
I can understand why someone may feel empathy toward Lucy, but after the fifteenth weak moment of going back to Steven, I had nothing left to give her. One of my biggest pet peeves in life or in books is indecisive people. Wishy-washy characters who waver constantly about the choices they have made makes me furious! Grow a backbone, choose something and stick by it, for goodness sake! By saying this, I’m not saying I don’t understand Lucy’s plight. Plenty of women experience these types of relationships with men who simply feel so comfortable to them, they can’t ever seem to break away, despite how negative the relationship might be. I’ve experienced these feelings myself. However, I don’t think the story was presented in a way to make me empathize with Lucy. I wasn’t able to get in her shoes and understand her mindset enough to feel anything but contempt for her. If I could impress my will on any young girl, it would be for them to never become a Lucy.
Steven was the epitome of everything I hate in a man: semi-attractive, full of himself, the type of man who thinks the world owes him something. I feel like I can sniff out these types of men in real life and know they are the guys who sneak away for “work” to cheat on their wives or girlfriends. These guys are usually a little pudgey, or completely dumpy, but somehow have landed and continue to land stunning women. The draw women feel to these particular men makes no sense to me whatsoever, and I’m always disgusted by the slimeballs.
I also hated the characters’ continuous drug use and partying. If they weren’t looking to hook up with someone, they were snorting something up their nose, sometimes both. The whole story revolved around these things, rather than any exciting events. It became repetitive and boring. I know college life for many young adults includes the same subjects, but these things simply do not interest me in the least.
I really expected to enjoy this story but it was probably the biggest dud I have ever read to the end. I know many people will disagree with my review and will find Lucy a relatable character and easy to understand, but I’m not that person.