Seven Ways We Lie
High school is no walk in the park for seven angst-ridden teenagers and friendships are stretched to their limits when Paloma High School officials receive an anonymous tip about an inappropriate student-teacher relationship. In this debut novel, written by then-college student Riley Redgate, lies routinely mask the deep secrets and insecurities of students at a Kansas high school and, as the investigation continues, their secrets come out in painful revelations.
The story is written from seven different points of view which the author has matched to the seven deadly sins: lust, envy, greed, sloth, gluttony, wrath and pride, giving the reader the task of figuring out which character fits which sin. While some of them are friends, others are on the fringe, but the scandal brings them together and forces them to face the moral question of what to tell.
I enjoyed reading this YA novel. It has a clever structure and is very readable, but also addresses many important themes: pressure to succeed, fitting in, bullying, friendship, love, teenage sexuality, loneliness and troubled family relationships. Despite the book’s heavy drama, the story has a prevailing optimistic message: that it’s okay to be different. In addition, I particularly like how the characters grow and develop strong relationships that would have been unlikely if there had been no scandal.
A couple things bothered me about the story, however. A student has overheard a conversation from behind a closed door, so no names come with the anonymous tip yet the school immediately runs with it. The principal calls an assembly and asks students for help in finding out who is involved. Then the school administration interviews each student and broadcasts updates and pleas for more information during the morning announcements. This approach seems highly unrealistic to me. No preliminary investigation before going public, full credence to the person who sent the tip. A later tip also leads to swift school action, with no checks to whether it’s valid.
My other issue is that each student seems to have a serious secret, brought on by intense personal and family relationship issues in which the parents play very passive parenting roles. Of course these problems are what drive the story, but the author’s many themes are compressed into the seven students, making me wonder if any of them know what a normal day is like.
To write a book like this while still in college, however, is a remarkable accomplishment and I think the author shows a lot of talent, particularly when she develops certain characters. I also love the cover, which is what attracted me to the book and convinced me to read it. I look forward to more books by Redgate and recommend Seven Ways We Lie to readers who like books with modern teen drama.
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15 thoughts on “Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate”
This sounds like a clever structure for a YA novel although I do wonder how realistic it is to have quite so many issues in one book.
Yes it was packed with issues but I’m wondering if that is what YA readers want. I see the author has another book out and I’m curious to see what it’s like. Thanks for stopping by!
Yes, being a bit of an old fuddy-duddy now I wonder how healthy it is for them to imagine everyone’s lives are so traumatic
Oh I know – having kids in high school now, I certainly hope it’s not this way!
Thanks for introducing us to Riley and her book. Writing from seven different POVs can’t be easy. As for the issue with the anonymous tip and the school immediately running with it…that sounds like our mainstream media. 🙂
Ah yes so maybe it is realistic after all! 😉 Thanks for stopping by, Jill!
A fascinating structure to this book, Barbara and it must have been tricky to write and control. It sounds very good but you point out some elements that are unrealistic. A terrific balanced review which gives us a clear picture of the book.
At first, I was like: 7 POVs??? But, in reading how the author used each as one of the 7 sins…that’s really interesting. I don’t know that I’ll love it, but am definitely going to take a look. Thanks for sharing, Barbara!
Hey Sarah – it was a little YA-ey but I still enjoyed it because sometimes I think I’m still in high school!
🙂 I love YA. I really do. So I’m good on that count. There are some amazing authors/books in the YA category. Have you read anything by Maggie Stiefvater? If not, you should take a look. Her writing is stunning.
The name sounds familiar – I don’t think I’ve ready anything by her but I’ll look at what she’s written. Thanks!
I wrote a lot during my college years but I can’t imagine finishing a novel during that time. Kudos to her!
I know – can’t imagine how she did that – and she was an Econ major! Thanks for stopping by!
I like the idea of trying to figure out which sin each character embodies. That’s great that she wrote this in college too – I still have a half-finished novel from college around here somewhere. 🙂 I’ll have to check it out – thank you!
Ah yes – do bring it out! Thanks for reading, Sheila and stay warm!
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