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 every high school, every student has something to hide—whether it’s Kat, the thespian who conceals her trust issues onstage; or 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 unlikely allies at the heart of it all, the collision of their seven ordinary-seeming lives results in extraordinary change.
How would you feel if a rumor stemmed about a student-teacher relationship?
Well, we’re gonna find out . . . seven different times. Seven Ways We Lie follows, you guessed it, seven different point of views over a vast array of high school cliques and tropes. The sexual one, the thespian, the stoner, the model student, the jock who hasn’t come out just yet, the “neurotic genius” as the synopsis says, and the anxious overachiever feeling out of the loop. Seven different stories connecting through a school wide scandal.
Being a quick contemporary read this year, Seven Ways We Lie does plenty in the novel’s 350 page limit. Divorce/Abandonment, alcohol/drugs, gender/sexuality, bullying, and many more. Within the timeframe of three weeks coming to the story’s close, there comes a time where awkward tension between characters and inner monologues cross paths, and designating whose POV I’m reading became rather difficult. And some characters were flat until the very end, one being Kat, the thespian sister with the abandonment issues and a short temper. There is far and few in-between when it comes to the growth and maturation of most of these characters. I find that the seven way POV does little to that character development and does not do much to progress the mystery of the rumor along. If anything, it gives a diverse array to these very cookie cutter characters. The tropes are ordinary, and you can place it from best-selling novels turned television shows/movies. It’s characterization, not rocket science.
One of the things that I enjoyed were the poetics surrounding Juniper’s point of view. The elegant prose mixed with poetic enjambment (or perhaps that was my digital galley not lining up correctly) made her part of the story engaging and engrossing. Another thing I enjoyed was how the pace cranked into place the further on I read. It started off slow, and I almost put down the novel for good, until the wheels of the rumor train kept chugging along. Fully greased and moving down a mountain of tension.
All in all, it was an engaging, fast-paced read. Anyone looking for a contemporary novel to through a wrench in all the fantasy and sci-fi this season, Seven Ways We Lie should be up your alley. Just don’t rely on character development to win you over.