Book Review: The Lies They Tell

The Lies They Tell
Published By: HarperTeen
Publication Date: May 1, 2018
Page Count: 304
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss
Young Adult - Mystery

Pearl works at the country club on an island in Maine that is bustling with the wealthy during the summer months, but becomes a ghost town during the brutal winters. Pearl has always observed the uber-rich residents from a distance. After all, it's easy to forget the hired help, especially when they go out of their way to blend in. To make matters worse, Pearl is fascinated with watching Tristan Garrison, the only survivor of the multimillion dollar Garrison family, from afar. Tristan's entire family was killed in a house fire on the island the previous Christmas.

As with any small town, rumors begin to swirl about who could have caused the fire when the cause is determined to be arson. People in town are quick to point fingers and lay blame. Some of that blame, unfortunately, lands on the shoulders of Pearl's father, who was working as the caretaker for the Garrisons at the time of the tragedy. Many people believe that he allowed someone to break into this house and if not for his negligence then the Garrisons would still be alive and well. Pearl desperately wants to know what happened that night so that she can prove her father was not at fault in any way. but how is she supposed to find answers when the police never did? What could make someone murder two parents and two of their children while they were asleep in bed? What kind of monster could be lurking within plain sight?

I loved the setting of this one. Maine has always been a place that calls to me. There is something about the gloomy winters and isolation that perks my interest. I certainly plan to visit someday, but until then I'll happily continue reading books set in that locale. French does a masterful job of bringing this setting and its inhabitants to life. In fact, I believe the atmosphere she conjures is the strongest aspect of this novel.

While I loved the setting, I had a hard time connecting with Pearl. She is likable enough, but she's not one of those heroines that makes me want to jump into the novel to befriend her. Her best trait, in my opinion, is her loyalty to her father. Everything she does is motivated by her wish to see his name cleared and for him to stop blaming himself.

My second complaint with this one was that I felt the identity of the person behind the tragedy was fairly predictable. The idea started to form pretty early for me, but I was convinced that my theory couldn't be true. I was slightly disheartened to find out I had been correct all along.

Complaints aside, I did enjoy the social commentary on the year rounders and the rich part timers. Socioeconomics is a huge factor in so many things and causes some to have a sense of entitlement that isn't truly valid. Pearl's views on this topic were realistic and resonated with me.

Overall, I'd still recommend giving this one a read if you're a mystery lover or have a hankering for a mental vacation to Maine to this summer. It's a quick read that will certainly appeal to many readers, but fell a little flat for me.

One Last Gripe: The pacing was a little slow for my tastes. I like my mysteries to move at a faster clip and have my frantic to read the next chapter.

Favorite Thing About This Book: The setting

First Sentence: The last night the Garrisons set foot inside the Tenney's Harbor Country Club, the windows were laced with snow.

Favorite Character: I didn't have one.

Least Favorite Character: I didn't have one.


Everyone in Tenney’s Harbor, Maine, knows about the Garrison tragedy. How an unexplained fire ravaged their house, killing four of the five family members. But what people don’t know is who did it. All fingers point at Pearl Haskins’s father, the town drunk, who was the caretaker of the property, but she just can’t believe it. Leave it to a town of rich people to blame “the help.” 

 With her disgraced father now trying to find work in between booze benders, Pearl’s future doesn’t hold much more than waiting tables at the local country club, where the wealthy come to flaunt their money and spread their gossip. This year, Tristan, the last surviving Garrison, and his group of affluent and arrogant friends have made a point of sitting in Pearl’s section. Though she’s repulsed by most of them, Tristan’s quiet sadness and somber demeanor have her rethinking her judgments. Befriending the boys could mean getting closer to the truth, clearing her father’s name, and giving Tristan the closure he seems to be searching for. But it could also trap Pearl in a sinister web of secrets, lies, and betrayals that, once untangled, will leave no life unchanged . . . if it doesn’t take hers first.


  1. I enjoy books set in the New England states. Their winters are perfect for a mystery, but I would only want to visit in the summer.

    1. Me too! I do want to see Maine in winter and summer, but I don't think I could live in New England during the winter. Too much snow for this girl!


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