What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that If I Lie is a coming-of-age tale about keeping someone else's secret against all odds. There are some serious themes in the story -- about staying in the closet, the Don't Ask, Don't Tell homophobia of the military, the effects of infidelity -- and frank discussions of the difference between a safe relationship and a sexual one. A small town's small-mindedness is at the heart of why a gay young man refuses to tell the truth, but so is his inability to give people the benefit of the doubt. The author uses a lot of strong language, including "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," and insults such as "whore," "traitor," and "slut." There's also some persistent bullying, an incident of gay bashing, and the death of a beloved character. The protagonist comes into her own, however, and discovers what she needs and wants out of her relationships.
What's the story?
Quinn used to be one half of Sweethaven High School's perfect couple, but after her boyfriend Carey joins the Marines and deploys, she does the unthinkable -- she's caught kissing another boy in a provocative photo. Quinn turns into a pariah overnight, but despite losing her social standing, her friendship, even the respect of her father -- a former Marine himself -- she refuses to tell the truth: that she and Carey weren't together anymore when the photo was taken, because Carey had just broken up with her and admitted he's gay. When Carey goes Missing in Action in Afghanistan, Quinn wonders if she will ever be out from the under the weight of his secret and and lies.
Is it any good?
Although she could easily save herself from the perpetual grief and humiliation of being branded the small military town's biggest slut, Quinn convincingly reveals why telling the truth would be such an unthinkable betrayal of Carey, whom she loves unconditionally. The fact that his best friend Blake was the (unrecognizable) guy in the photo makes things ever more complicated. He, too, could step forward and defend Quinn, but doing so would devastate Carey's parents even more. Author Corrine Jackson beautifully conveys the heartache and loneliness of living with such a heavy secret, of having one defining moment that changes the rest of your life.
Quinn's ordeal -- everyone at her school seems to hate her, even the girls who used to be her best friends -- is tempered by the one relationship in her life that is uncomplicated and sweet. As a volunteer at the VA hospital, Quinn strikes up a close friendship with George, and elderly vet who encourages and supports Quinn when no one else will. Their conversations are the only moments in If I LIE that aren't tainted by her reputation. There's also a forbidden romance between Quinn and Blake (he doesn't know the truth about Carey) that simmers until it boils over into a declaration of love. But If I Lie is not a romance; this is a story about sacrifice, loyalty, and acceptance. With her compelling, complicated protagonist, Jackson will make readers think hard about truth, love, and duty.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about Quinn's theory that everyone has defining moments that change the course of their lives. What was hers? Have you made any defining decisions?
Have you read other stories that give you a picture of what it's like for gay teens? Is there less prejudice than there once was where you live?
Do you think Carey was cowardly not to come out of the closet before deploying?