Saturday, September 1, 2012

Review: If I Lie by Corrine Jackson

If I LieBook: If I Lie
Author: Corrine Jackson
Publication Date: August 28, 2012
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Rating: 5 Stars

A powerful debut novel about the gray space between truth and perception.

Quinn’s done the unthinkable: she kissed a guy who is not Carey, her boyfriend. And she got caught. Being branded a cheater would be bad enough, but Quinn is deemed a traitor, and shunned by all of her friends. Because Carey’s not just any guy—he’s serving in Afghanistan and revered by everyone in their small, military town.

Quinn could clear her name, but that would mean revealing secrets that she’s vowed to keep—secrets that aren’t hers to share. And when Carey goes MIA, Quinn must decide how far she’ll go to protect her boyfriend…and her promise.
I don't know if I can write a review that will fully articulate the impact that this book had on me.

If I Lie is a contemporary read that is fully contemporary. It has none of those charming happy endings or fluffy kisses. Instead, it contains nothing but reality and the fact that even when things become the worst that they can be, there's nothing to do but remain stoic and keep trying to escape.

Sophie's story is not an easy one to read. She is intensely ridiculed by her old friends, hated by everyone in her small town because she "cheated" on her boyfriend, Carey. Recently, I read a book, Speechless, that involved the same sort of high school ridicule. But Speechless has nothing on If I Lie. Sophie isn't just hiding a secret from everyone; she's also juggling the feelings she has for Carey's best friend, the stony silence of her father, and the way her mother abandoned her years ago. Jackson weaves a complex and heartbreaking plot, and there's no way for you not to sympathize for Sophie and admire her bravery for keeping Carey's secret safe despite everything. In addition, the loving relationship she has with George just tears you apart. I was very close to crying when I got to the end of this book.

There is extraordinary depth in this book. Not just to Sophie and the push and pull factors that lead her to keep her secret, but also to side characters like her mother and father. It's so hard to understand how they could treat their daughter the way they do, but you come to realize that it's all about that one defining moment when things change forever. Sometimes, you can't go back. All of the characters can be related to, with the exception of Jamie, who's just a bitch. There's nothing good about her, but you can understand that because of her position, as someone who's always loved someone who never loved her back, who's always had to stand out of the spotlight. It makes sense that she would fight back.

If I Lie has a bittersweet ending. It shows that there are some wounds that can't ever be healed, and that sometimes, we have to put ourselves first in order to be happy. But there's also the importance of friendship, and how, with the right people, those bonds will never fall apart. I think that's what Jackson wanted to emphasize: the power of friendship. The characters make millions of mistakes and are defined by their flaws, almost. In the end, this matters, but so do blood and loyalty, which also reflects the attitude in the army. Even if two men hate each other, they'll still save each other.

Jackson uses gorgeous language to express Sophie's emotions, and if you look at my status updates on Goodreads, you'll see some of them. She also calls attention to the "don't ask, don't tell," policy. Before this, I assumed that it was a good policy to just keep it on the DL, but now I've realized that's no way to live. Not sneaking around and getting beaten up for something you can't control.

Overall, this book... made me speechless. This isn't one of those "WOWZA SO GOOD" books, but it's one that makes you think about your perceptions of other people and makes you want to know their stories. Because we don't know each other's stories, and that's what handicaps us in our judgment. If you want to feel, then I suggest reading this, because you definitely will. There's quite a lot of crying, but it's understandable because of all the shit that Sophie's been through. One of my favorite parts was her relationship with an old veteran at the hospital, George. It was tear-worthy, especially their banter and the way George treats her like a daughter. Jackson has basically twisted my heartstrings into an ugly mess, and I'm recovering slowly.

Maybe I'll be able to stir up some motivation to read While He Was Away now, but I doubt it.

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