4 star reviews, Book reviews, contemporary fiction, Women's Fiction

Tell Me Lies: A Novel by Carola Lovering

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From the Publisher:

Everyone remembers the one. No, not that one. The other one. The one you couldn’t let go of. The one you’ll never forget.

Lucy Albright is far from her Long Island upbringing when she arrives on the campus of her small California college, and happy to be hundreds of miles from her mother, whom she’s never forgiven for an act of betrayal in her early teen years. Quickly grasping at her fresh start, Lucy embraces college life and all it has to offer—new friends, wild parties, stimulating classes. And then she meets Stephen DeMarco. Charming. Attractive. Complicated. Devastating.

Confident and cocksure, Stephen sees something in Lucy that no one else has, and she’s quickly seduced by this vision of herself, and the sense of possibility that his attention brings her. Meanwhile, Stephen is determined to forget an incident buried in his past that, if exposed, could ruin him, and his single-minded drive for success extends to winning, and keeping, Lucy’s heart.

Lucy knows there’s something about Stephen that isn’t to be trusted. Stephen knows Lucy can’t tear herself away. And their addicting entanglement will have consequences they never could have imagined.

Alternating between Lucy’s and Stephen’s voices, Tell Me Lies follows their connection through college and post-college life in New York City. With psychological insight and biting wit, this keenly intelligent and staggeringly resonant novel chronicles the yearning ambitions, desires, and dilemmas of young adulthood, and the difficulty of letting go, even when you know you should.

My Review:

4/5 stars

There is not much of a plot in this novel, but there is a character arc.  Lucy’s character does grow at the end of the novel.  So what made this novel so good?  The fact that it gave you the opportunity to really look at someone else’s relationship.  You got a more intimate view of someone else’s relationship than you would if it were just a friend telling you about their relationship.  You knew when they had sex and what it was like and what they each felt when they saw each other and how much time they each spent thinking about each other.

I think it is true that we all have that one that got away or the first person who made us feel certain things, but I didn’t really think that was what this was about.  This novel was more about a guy, Stephen, who is extremely narcisstic and psychopathological and a girl who becomes obsessed with him.  Stephen is a typical charming, cunning, calculated psychopath.  He researches her and observes her and realizes what it will take to make her feel certain things.  Stephen doles out his love for her in small doses, just enough to make her want him, but then withholds anything real, making her always chase that elusive intimacy.

I found it interesting that Stephen’s mother was bipolar.  He had a terrible view of her and I think, of all women.  He saw his father’s love of his mother as weak and he would never want to be that way, which attributed to his psychopathic-tendencies.

Lucy, on the other hand, had an experience with her mother when she was in 8th grade that she calls The Unforgivable Thing and so she doesn’t trust her mother and she doesn’t go to her mother for advice, even though she laments that her mother would know what to do.

I spent a fair amount of time psychoanalyzing these characters, even though I am not a therapist.  I think his absent mother and her distrust and distance of her mother contributed greatly to their both becoming obsessed with each other for so many years (it starts in college and end several years later when they are both done with college and at a friend’s wedding).

I have known a Stephen, although not in any romantic way at all whatsoever, but I have seen how he treats people and I have listened to several of his ex-girlfriends talk about how he was a serial cheater, how he was charming, how he kept getting them back, etc.  This guy’s mom passed away from cancer right after he graduated from college and from what I know, his relationships  in college and before were a lot more healthy.  I found myself drawing A LOT of parallels, like Stephen could have been based on the guy that I know.

I would like to thank Netgalley for my copy.

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