Thursday, July 24, 2014

Book Review: Lies My Girlfriend Told Me by Julie Anne Peters

Lies My Girlfriend Told Me
Julie Anne Peters
Lies My Girlfriend Told Me
Julie Anne Peters
Published: June 10, 2014
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Age Demographic: YA LGBTQ 
Pages: 256

When Alix's charismatic girlfriend, Swanee, dies from sudden cardiac arrest, Alix is overcome with despair. As she searches Swanee's room for mementos of their relationship, she finds Swanee's cell phone, pinging with dozens of texts sent from a mysterious contact, L.T. The most recent text reads: "Please tell me what I did. Please, Swan. Te amo. I love you."

Shocked and betrayed, Alix learns that Swanee has been leading a double life--secretly dating a girl named Liana the entire time she's been with Alix. Alix texts Liana from Swanee's phone, pretending to be Swanee in order to gather information before finally meeting face-to-face to break the news.

Brought together by Swanee's lies, Alix and Liana become closer than they'd thought possible. But Alix is still hiding the truth from Liana. Alix knows what it feels like to be lied to--but will coming clean to Liana mean losing her, too?

To Purchase Lies My Girlfriend Told Me by 
Julie Anne Peters please visit: Amazon & B&N

(Note: I received an eGalley of this book for review from the publishers via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review, which I have provided here and on Goodreads.)

Lies My Girlfriend Told Me , is a beautifully written LGBTQ young adult novel, that I could not put down until I finished the last page. Julie Ann Peters wrote some wonderfully developed and realistic characters that just kind of had this way of staying with me, even after I'd finished the book and put it down. It's always a breath of fresh air, when I find that an author has taken care to write their young adult characters in such a realistic way, that they actually think, talk, and act like the teenagers they're meant to be within the setting of the story. I had no problem immersing myself into this story and feeling for both Alix and Liana. I was intrigued with Liana's character from the moment that she was introduced in the book and somehow ended up feeling a little protective of her, because she was this sweet, charismatic, and charming young woman. 

This is just a gorgeously written story of love, betrayal, lies, relationships, and just being a teenage girl dealing with other issues and school at the same time. It isn't a book that was written just to fit some quote unquote agenda, it is just the way it reads - a book about a girl who's girlfriend dies and she has to deal with that and the lies that she uncovers and the love that hides beneath it. It's simply beautiful and breathtaking, I just don't know how else to describe it, other than to say that. One of the best things that Peters does with this story, is illustrate the ending of an unhealthy relationship and highlights the beginning of another more beautiful and mature healthy one. This is something that needs to be written into more young adult contemporary romance novels, because all too often there are way too many unhealthy ones and readers are just expected to accept them as the norm. 

I have to say that I was quite pleasantly charmed with how beautiful and sweet Liana was and her reaction to Swanee's death and the way she had to find out about it, absolutely broke my heart. She'd been lied to, led on to believe in someone that had become so unreal to her and virtually didn't exist in one sense, and forced to deal with a death that she nor anyone else ever really saw coming. I will admit that I was slightly disappointed in Alix for pretending to be Swanee, while she was texting Liana, because she sort of played a roll in the "duping" as well. All alarm bells rang out that this wrong on so many levels, but on the other hand I appreciated the knee-jerk reaction as well because it was something that rang true to being a young teenage girl who had just found out that her girlfriend who had recently passed away, was seeing another girl without being clued in. It doesn't excuse it, but it sort of explains her actions in a way. 

The relationship build up between both Alix and Liana, as they go to know each other over the time they spent together, was a little too fast for my liking. Although, under the circumstances given Swanee's death, and the fact that they were each grieving separately and together in a sense, I can sort of let that go a bit. I would have loved to have gotten to see a little bit more of their friendship blossoming, before they went straight into their relationship. However, the fact that they were healing together in their own ways and each helping to heal the other, making their romantic relationship a more healthy and stable one than their previous ones with Swanee, did make my heart smile a little. It was sweet and endearing in a lot of ways that made total and complete sense. I just loved these two together and appreciated how amazing they were.

The lie that Alix was keeping from Liana, bothered me throughout the novel, when I felt like she had a few different moments where she have come clean and just been honest with her in the beginning. The fact that she was falling for her, feeling bad about having developing feels for her, and dealing with other issues wasn't enough for me to be okay with this aspect. I get that she didn't want to hurt Liana, but keeping something like this from her when she pretended to be Swanee, was even more hurtful than actually doing it because she essentially broke what little trust had been built up between them once she finally did tell her. Again, this where I felt a little more protective of Liana than Alix, because this is the same way that Swanee had hurt and deceived her with lies. So, I could see why she was so angry and hurt by what Alix had done, but I do have to give Alix some credit for finally telling her and for understanding why Liana didn't want anything to do with her at that moment. 

When Alix finally started bonding with her little brother and becoming more responsible at home, that's when I really started to like her a great deal more. It was sweet watching her in those later chapters, how she was with her baby brother, and helping her parents out when they needed it. Getting to see her grow up and deal with her issues, instead of just lash out in typical anger and frustration, was amazing. I was especially proud of the fact that she was trying her best to be a good friend to Joss and help her to get the help that she needed in dealing with Swanee's death. When it finally came out that Joss was with Swanee when she died, I was truly heartbroken for her to have to deal with that. The guilt that she carried around eating at her, was incredibly sad and no one should have to deal with that, least of all a young teenage girl. So much of who Swanee was and the things that she had done, which readers were told through memories the characters had, was full of pain, lies, betrayal, and I wonder if there was any love there at all. Honestly, with the way that Swanee was raised and the few glimpses that we had been given of her mother, I'm not sure that she was ever taught to love at all or knew what it was. 

The characters and the story this book had to tell has definitely left an everlasting mark on my heart. And this is such a powerfully written and beautifully heartbreaking story full love, pain, loss, betrayal, and so much more. If you're looking for a contemporary romance that is going to make you feel all the feelings, then Lies My Girlfriend Told Me is the book that I would recommend to you. Just give it a chance and let these characters charm you, the way that they charmed me. 

Julie Anne Peters was born in Jamestown, New York. When she was five, her family moved to the Denver suburbs in Colorado. Her parents divorced when she was in high school. She has three siblings: a brother, John, and two younger sisters, Jeanne and Susan.

Her books for young adults include Define "Normal" (2000), Keeping You a Secret (2003), Luna (2004), Far from Xanadu (2005), Between Mom and Jo (2006), grl2grl (2007), Rage: A Love Story (2009), By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead (2010), She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not... (2011) and I Hope You Dance (2012). Her young adult fiction frequently deals with LGBT issues.

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