A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Brent Hartinger's Three Truths and a Lie is a psychological thriller about two teen couples (one straight and one gay) who spend a terrifying weekend at an isolated cabin in Washington state. Soon after their arrival, strange things begin to happen, and it becomes apparent that someone is stalking them with murderous intentions. Sexual tension between the couples is constantly in the background, both couples have sex during the weekend, and the sex between Liam and Rob is somewhat graphically described. Strong language ("a--hole," "f--k," "bitch") is used casually in conversation. Violence is graphic (there's a vicious attack, a poisoning, and a strangulation -- one of which may not be what it seems), but it's not as intense or explicit as the violence in many popular books or on cable TV shows. Hartinger is the Lambda Award-winning author of young adult novels about gay and bisexual teens, including Spilt Screen and Geography Club.
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What's the story?
THREE TRUTHS AND A LIE begins in a tattoo parlor as high school seniors Mia, Galen, Rob, and Liam wait their turn to get matching spiderwebs inked on their arms. Galen is Mia's part-hipster, part-jock boyfriend, and Rob (who narrates the novel) is Liam's new boyfriend. After some tough criminal types show up at the tattoo shop looking for Galen, the two couples decide to escape for the weekend to an isolated lakeside cabin owned by Mia's parents. The first night, they play a party game called Three Truths and a Lie, which reveals one of them may have committed a murder several years before. After that, things begin to go terribly wrong. Their satellite phone disappears, there's a mysterious fire, their car is disabled -- and they're being stalked by a killer.
Is it any good?
Two teenage couples, a long-buried secret, lots of sexual tension, a creepy cabin in the woods, and a killer on the loose make for a chilling page-turner. Brent Hartinger's novels featuring gay and bisexual teens are both popular and well-reviewed, so his handling of the relationship between Liam and Rob and the pair's conflicts with Galen is both sensitive and insightful.
Teens who are regular viewers of shows such as Game of Thrones or fans of writers such as Stephen King may find the novel's "scare" quotient a bit low, but it will suit readers who want a thriller that isn't nightmare-inducing and lacks large quantities of gore. A clever twist should surprise most readers.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how keeping secrets is dealt with in Three Truths and a Lie. Over time, what do you think would be the most damaging to your life: keeping something you've done secret or accepting the the consequences for your actions?
If you found yourself stranded in a place with no internet, no Wi-Fi, and no cell phone coverage, would you feel afraid and vulnerable? Do you think feeling safe has become too dependent on being "connected"?
How do students in your school feel about gay relationships? How difficult is it to "come out" in your community?
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