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Two Truths and a Lie



More of the same in Book 3 of mean-girl murder mystery.

What parents need to know

Educational value

This may inspire teens to pick up other, deeper suspense novels (like those on our Thriller and Suspense Books for Teens list).

Positive messages

Emma is trying to solve her sister's murder and be a good person. Sutton, after she dies, realizes that she could have been nicer to those who cared about her.

Positive role models

There's a lot of problematic behavior here -- the book's premise is about a murdered teen, after all -- including pranking and general meanness among the girls in Sutton's clique. But Emma, the protagonist, tries to practice "random acts of Emma Kindness" as she solves her sister's murder, itself a noble act.


Two Truths and a Lie is about a girl who's murdered. There's other violence, too, including a father who abuses his kids. And Sutton's boyfriend is rough with her. The police find blood when they discover Sutton's abandoned car. Some pranks involve violence or the threat of violence.


Some kissing between Emma and her boyfriend, and Sutton remembers kissing Thayer. 


Language includes a few uses of "bitch," "Jesus" (as an exclamation), and "s--t."


Labels/brands include Abercrombie, Botox, Chanel, Coke, Converse, DiorShow, iPod, Levi's, Starbucks, Tiffany, Tory Burch, Tsubi, Veuve Clicquot champagne, and more. The girls in Sutton's clique love labels and shopping, and readers get to ogle along with Emma at their extravagance.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters drink beer and more at a party. A mother says she would let the girls drink at her home if they weren't going to drive to a party that night. Another character admits to being in rehab for alcoholism. Emma notices that Ethan's car smells like cigarettes, even though he doesn't smoke.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Two Truths and a Lie is the third book in the series that began with The Lying Game, which follows a rich, popular mean girl who was murdered -- and her nice, long-lost twin sister, who impersonates her as she tries to solve the crime. Be prepared for pranks, label dropping, and frenemy behavior as Emma tries to sort out what happened to Sutton. There's also kissing, teen drinking, and violent behavior. (The ghost Sutton suspects that her secret boyfriend may have murdered her when she recalls a romantic hike that turns ugly.) There's also a television series inspired by the author's work.

Parents say

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What's the story?

In TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE, Emma is still masquerading as her long-lost identical twin, Sutton, living the popular rich girl's life as she tries to solve her murder. Meanwhile, Sutton's ghost secretly tags along, filling in her own memories as they begin to emerge. In this third installment, Emma's main focus in on Thayer, Sutton's secret lover, who has been missing for months but snuck into her room at the end of the second volume, Never Have I Ever. Sutton's memories confirm that they were together the night she died, but why does Thayer now have a limp? And what does he mean when he tells Emma, "I'm the only who knows who you really are"? Emma tries to sort out the clues while still fooling Sutton's clique of frenemies and thwarting the prank they're planning against her own new secret boyfriend, emo Ethan, the only one who knows who she truly is.

Is it any good?


Mostly, this is more of the same: more intrigue, more label-dropping, more pranks and complicated relationships. Readers may find Two Truths and a Lie a bit light on pranks -- and may be disturbed by the theory that Sutton drove a "passionate" Thayer to murder -- an idea that parents may want to explore with their kids. The author does include enough mystery to keep the pages turning and creates some intriguing tension between Emma and Sutton (Sutton at times resents Emma for being nice to her friends, while Emma decides in this book to "behave in a way she could be proud of, even of her actions weren't one hundred percent Sutton-like").

In the end, Two Truths and a Lie is mostly more fluffy fun for series fans who will no doubt be eager to get going on the next installment.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the "mean girl" behavior here. Teens: Is this the way girls act at your school? Do books like this normalize or promote this kind of behavior? Or do readers understand that this depiction of mean-girl behavior is extreme?

  • What do you think of Sutton's relationship with Thayer? He's described as "passionate," and there's some talk that Sutton's game playing may have pushed him to violence. What do you think of the way the characters discuss this possible violence?

  • Does it trouble you that Sutton may be in love with someone who could have murdered her?

Book details

Author:Sara Shepard
Topics:High school
Book type:Fiction
Publication date:February 7, 2012
Number of pages:304

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Teen, 13 years old Written bychrissylovesbooks99 May 10, 2013

the lying game

great book for teens


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