Book Review: Even When You Lie to Me by Jessica Alcott

By Angela Maria Hart

Even When You Lie to Me by Jessica Alcott is not the type of book I would typically buy. But, I became very intrigued by the summary provided on Goodreads as well as the positive reviews from readers. Charlotte, better known as Charlie, has always been in the shadow of her best friend, Lila. When senior year begins, Charlie expects it to be similar to every other experience she has ever had with Lila in the limelight. Things take an odd turn, however, when Mr. Drummond takes over her Advanced Placement English class. On the first day, he gives her the nickname Chuck rather than call her Charlie. From that moment on, Charlie becomes intrigued by his presence in her life.

Alcott was very strategic with her writing. The book begins with a page dedicated to the month of August in reference to the fact that summer is coming to a close and the school year is soon to begin. The book ends with the month of June and Charlie’s graduation ceremony. Each month is included to break the book into sections, allowing the reader to follow the narrative clearly. Sometimes events and storylines blur into one ongoing event, but Alcott wanted to ensure that the reader was aware of when everything was happening in Charlie’s life. Since timing is important to the characters, I loved the fact that this element was included in the novel.

As the narrative progressed, I became extraordinarily intrigued every time Charlie referenced the fact she was either lying to herself or someone else. The title of the book, Even When You Lie to Me, is said by Charlie’s teacher in reference to the fact that Charlie told him she read a particular novel that she never even picked up. An ongoing theme of the book is the fact that Charlie is lying more so to herself than the other characters. On page seventy-nine of my edition, Charlie is speaking with another character who asks her if she likes trigonometry. Automatically, she responds, “Yes.” She does not elaborate, she simply responds, “Yes.” The other character looks at her, pauses, and says, “It’s okay, you don’t have to lie.” Charlie wants to be accepted by the other characters around her but at the same time she is also trying to convince herself that she is better at things or is content with certain situations.

As a reader, I was interested in the themes of lying and dreaming. I will note that this book is not for young readers. I do believe that there should be some sort of rating or age perimeters in place; the subject matter of the book is Charlie having feelings for her English teacher, so I do not necessarily believe that this is a book for young readers. I thought Alcott’s overall execution was really intriguing. If you are a fan of the forbidden student-teacher relationship, this is a book for you.

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