Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate
Seven students. Seven (deadly) sins. One secret.
Paloma High School is ordinary by anyone’s standards. It’s got the same cliques, the same prejudices, the same suspect cafeteria food. And like at every high school, each student has something to hide– from Kat, the thespian who conceals her trust issues on stage, to Valentine, the neurotic genius who’s planted the seed of a school scandal.
When that scandal bubbles over, and rumors of a teacher-student affair surface, everyone starts hunting for someone to blame. For the seven unlikely allies at the heart of it all, their ordinary-seeming lives result in extraordinary change.
— From the book jacket of Seven Ways We Lie
Seven high school students, each with their own secrets and sins they hide from the world.
Olivia, the girl that sleeps around, whose mother left her family and never looked back.
Kat, Olivia’s twin sister, who shuts herself away with theater and video games, angry because of it.
Claire, the president of every club in school, who overcompensates for her insecurities.
Lucas, Claire’s ex and star athlete, who has to hide his sexuality in their incredibly conservative town.
Matt, the stoner, who uses weed to escape the turmoil at home.
Valentine, the genius everyone calls a freak, who avoids the social interaction he doesn’t understand.
and Juniper, the girl with everything, who is spiraling out of control because of the biggest secret of all.
Told through all seven points of view, Seven Ways We Lie is a story of how each of us carry secrets that can threaten to destroy us until we let someone else in to help us carry the burden.
I read this not long after Seven Black Diamonds, which severely struggled with the multiple point of view switches in terms of character development. I was so worried that I’d be suffering through another cliche Breakfast Club cast of characters that fell flat, especially a story with so many. But with Seven Ways We Lie, that wasn’t the case. Each character had their own unique voice (Juniper’s chapters were written completely in verse), their own thoughts, and their own history and secrets. Riley Redgate made me feel like I knew each one, and most importantly, made me care.
I felt Kat’s anger towards the world. I felt Claire’s jealousy as her friends left her out of things. I felt Lucas’ need to hide his secret from his conservative town, and Matt’s guilt for sharing the secret that wasn’t his. I felt Valentine’s aloofness towards the high school world he doesn’t understand. And I felt Juniper’s desperation as she spiraled out of control. I felt each and every one of these emotions as I read each side of the story– not an easy task to pull off.
As far as the story itself, there wasn’t much of a plot twist in terms of the main mystery of the student-teacher affair– it’s easy to guess very early on, and it is heavily hinted at for awhile before the big reveal– but with all the other characters with secrets of their own, and how their stories were woven together, the main secret wasn’t the only one you were left anticipating the outcome of.
While the story did wrap up with a bit of a “happily ever after” ending, I don’t think the point was so much, “it’ll all work out”, but more about the importance of learning to trust someone with your secrets, because they’re easier to face with a friend.
I definitely recommend this one! Because of prevalent occurrences of drinking, drugs, and allusions to sexual relationships, it is most appropriate for high school and beyond.
Find out more about Riley Redgate