Review: Little Red Lies by Julie Johnson

Little Red LiesPublishing Date: September 10, 2013 by Tundra Books
Format: ARC paperback
Pages: 352

The war is over, but for thirteen-year-old Rachel, the battle has just begun.  Putting childhood behind her, she knows what she wants – to prove she has acting talent worthy of the school drama club, and what she doesn’t want – to romantically fall for someone completely inappropriate.  Worries about her veteran brother’s failing health and repugnance at her mother’s unexpected and unwanted pregnancy drive her to seek solace from a seemingly sympathetic but self-serving teacher.  The lies she tells herself hoping to reach solutions to the problems complicating her life merely function to make matters worse.  Ultimately, she finds a way to come to terms with life as it reaches an end and life as it begins.

This book appealed to me originally because of the beautiful cover, and then I read the summary on Goodreads and became intrigued and entered the giveaway.

Little Red Lies seemed to be following two storylines at once, that of Rachel, the main character, and Jamie, her brother. Unfortunately for the book, I thought her brother’s storyline was the more interesting one.

Rachel is also a bit of a difficult character, and I found myself wanting to know much more of her friends than I ever knew about her. While I know she’s just a kid, she seems completely oblivious to how selfish or rude she is being to her friends and family, while resenting those same people when they act that way to her. That kind of attitude is definitely something I’ve seen in other YA protagonists (and teenagers in general), but they at least seem to justify it to themselves/the reader, rather than just leaving it as it is. I couldn’t always understand why Rachel was acting out when she did, and it often felt like she was just acting out for the hell of it, rather than because it was actually a justified reaction to what was going on in her life.

Early on in the book especially, Rachel is very focused on being sophisticated and adult, which is frankly ridiculous from my POV as an adult reader, seeing that she’s thirteen years old, and I found her difficult to relate to for that reason as well. Her own storyline was also a bit difficult to follow, and certain things seemed (to me) to be unnecessary when compared to what I felt was the real story with her brother, which frustrated me a bit. I thought Rachel’s “little red lies” would become a part of the story more than they did, due to the title, and I was a bit disappointed on that front.

That said, I really enjoyed the core story Little Red Lies told, about a soldier returning home from war and attempting to reintegrate himself into society and back into his family and circle of friends. The family’s interaction in the book was definitely the high point of the book for me, and it was when the book was focused on the family’s interactions and relationships that it was the strongest for me.

The book was a quick read (while it took me about a week to read it due to other obligations, I essentially read it in 2-3 sittings). There is definitely a lot going on, which can feel like a bit much at times, but it all definitely kept me turning the pages. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a YA historical fiction read.

I received a copy of this book through Goodreads’ First Reads program. Thank you to Goodreads and Tundra Books!

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>