Title: Tell Me Lies
Author: Carola Lovering
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Coming of Age
Pages: 384
My Rating: 2 stars




This book left a horrible taste in my mouth. I absolutely love the cover and it really did seem like the story had potential! The only reason I ended up giving it two stars instead of one is because I enjoyed the writing style and the author was able to give tons of history and depth to the characters. But in a book where you hate all the characters, does that even matter?

Stephen is a very emotionally abusive sociopath that Lucy somehow becomes enamored with because he always says the right things (even if the things he says directly contradict with his actual feelings and actions). Oh, and he’s really good in bed. The major complication with Stephen is that he’s dating someone. But don’t worry, he’s going to end it soon, he promises! Lucy can’t get enough of Stephen for some reason, but Stephen can never be content with just Lucy, and always has to have a girlfriend plus some other hook-ups on the side.


I didn’t hate everything about this book and I actually really seemed to like future Lucy, but we barely ever get to see any of her- everything is flashbacks. Some of the earlier chapters gave great nostalgic vibes that brought back in vivid detail that feeling of first moving out on your own and figuring things out/deciding what to do with your new found freedom, and I actually enjoyed that part of the story.


“I felt farther away from home than I ever had, and happier than I had since before the really bad year, before the Unforgivable Thing. Baird kids seemed to have a kind of fun that was new to me, the fun that came with open-mindedness and experimenting and genuine self-confidence … I craved something more when I put my head down on the pillow at night, and the longing stretched all the way to my toes.”


But then Stephen gets introduced and the whole plot goes to hell in a hand basket.

“I’ll never forget his eyes. I think I’ll lie in bed years from now, when I have children and my children have children, and I’ll see those two bottle-green orbs, watching me, on the precipice of changing everything.”


YES, Lucy, Stephen will change everything, and things will become so, so horribly annoying. Some fun facts about Stephen: he hates dogs (“I don’t like dogs all that much, to be honest, and I don’t see why people go so crazy over them .. The dog looked up at me expectantly with shiny black eyes like marbles, and I had the sudden urge to kick the dumb creature in its face”), he is gluttonous and likens eating to sex (“I love eating the way I love sex .. And with eating, there’s the added benefit of not having to appease anyone’s emotions in the aftermath”), and the only reason he dates is because it’s convenient for him.

“What I’ve come to learn and what most people fail to understand is that love is a choice. If you assess the worth of your relationship solely in terms of your feelings it is likely to fail, or at least be extremely short-term. You cannot go on having these “feelings” for someone forever. With girls, the exciting part is winning their affection. That’s the fun. Then you have to choose who you’re going to love, backed by the reasons why. This may sound a bit calculated, but in all honesty I can’t stand being single. I’ve always found life to run much more efficiently with a girlfriend.” – Stephen


Then we have Lucy. Lucy hates her mom for doing the “Unspeakable Thing”, but she uses this as an excuse to be absolutely horrible to her family- not just her mom. She’s rude and ungrateful when it comes to her father and sister as well, and they had nothing to do with her reasons for hating her mom. (“Sometimes I can’t help acting like the worst daughter ever. Even my dad looked at me with disappointment written all over his face … Normally I hated being rude—it made me feel small and weedy—but the spite felt good. I wanted [sister] to know I thought her boyfriend was lame without having to say it.”) I understand that Lucy has very extreme self-image issues and we’re seeing her journey of dealing with these issues and her unhealthy behaviors, but so much time was spent watching her and Stephen act like assholes that I started to wonder if there would ever be a resolution and if there was even any point to suffering through this along with them, especially when I didn’t even like them.


“Suddenly understood the other piece of the truth— Stephen and I were the same. I was emotionally intelligent enough to know that Stephen was not good, not objectively, but if I stood face-to-face with myself in the truest light, I wasn’t, either … Maybe CJ wasn’t good, but neither was I, and neither was Stephen, and my love for Stephen finally made complete, wonderful, real sense..”

Rolling Eyes - Lucille, Arrested Development


I think I pulled a muscle rolling my eyes at how backwards all Lucy’s logic was. There were a couple of “wtf?!”s thrown in there and definitely some face-palming. I think I only finished this book because by the halfway point I felt like I had too much invested in this story and these character’s lives to not follow through and find out what happened. Does that mean I would recommend this book to anyone and that I probably ever should have started reading it? Nope! I know that people can have complicated histories that make it hard for them to stay away from each other even though they probably should, but Lucy pretty much lets Stephen constantly emotionally abuse her, to the point of admitting that he’s bad “but maybe that’s what she deserves because she’s probably bad at the core anyway”. Reading about and calling attention to emotional abuse and all the other issues in this story is important, but what’s the point of reading through a whole (very long) book about two pretty horrible people when almost the whole book is about them being awful? And then there are almost no redeeming qualities to the story at all! We’re hit with an epilogue and it is completely unsatisfying; there’s a little resolution, but it is super anticlimactic.

If you can get past the hate you’re going to have for the main characters then you might be able to make it through this novel and actually like it. The way mental health issues were addressed was done well, and as I said earlier I really liked the author’s writing style. At the end of the day, I’d rather spend my time reading books about likeable characters, or at least characters that have some semblance of character development and desire for redemption.


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