Author: Meredith Miller
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publication Date: July 31, 2018
Violence in the small, suburban town of Highbone, Long Island, is escalating, and best friends Joan and Daisy are finding themselves in the centre of it.
Joan has always been fascinated by the inner workings of living things: dogfish, eels, stingrays. But the more she sees of life outside her microscope, the more she realizes that people aren’t as easy to read as cells on a slide, and no one, not even Daisy, tells the truth.
Daisy’s always wished he had a family more like Joan’s, and that desire has only grown since his dad went to jail. But not even Joan can help Daisy keep his deadbeat older brother from putting everyone close to them in more danger.
When tragedy strikes too close to home, Joan and Daisy need each other more than ever. But no matter how hard they try, their secrets and lies have driven them apart. It’s only a matter of time before their friendship, just like their town, goes up in flames.
I’m thrilled to be participating in the blog tour for How We Learned to Lie by Meredith Miller, which reeled me in with its vivid description. I was fascinated by the concept of two friends growing apart due to the insurmountable weight of their own lies and the roles they play in the violence seeping into their town.
In this slow burning, coming-of-age tale, the characters steal the show. Joan and Daisy have been through thick and thin together, an unlikely duo that has just clicked for as long as they can remember. Joan is strong-willed and stubborn with an insatiable appetite for facts. She’ll dissect anything to get to the truth, both metaphorically and physically when it comes to her interest in marine life. Daisy, on the other hand, is more reserved but loyal to a fault. He’s much less willing to question the status quo if doing so would threaten his friends or family, but for his friends or family, he would go to the ends of the earth. When things begin to fall apart and Joan turns her attention inward, putting everything under a microscope in her search for the truth, Daisy looks outward, finding solace in the telephone lines he can engineer and manipulate to broaden his horizons beyond his hometown.
How We Learned to Lie is such an honest and real look at a friendship crumbling apart even when both participants are trying so hard to cling to the remnants. As violence and drugs begin to plague their small town, Daisy and Joan’s relationship becomes fraught with half-truths and outright lies that can’t help but spiral. It’s an incredibly relatable and well-thought character study of how, once you start lying, it can become almost impossible to stop.
Be warned, this is not a fast-paced novel. It’s not the plot-driven mystery I thought it was going to be when I picked it up. Instead, it’s a vivid and unapologetically self-aware coming-of-age tale that really explores every facet of its lead characters. I do wish the mystery element had been a bit stronger, though. There’s some wonderful meta commentary throughout the book, where both Joan and Daisy actively call out moments and wonder why they didn’t tell the truth, but some of that meta commentary builds up foreshadowing that fell flat for me because the book always opted to shine a light on the characters rather than the plot.
If you’re looking for a novel that really gets into the heads of its characters and picks apart how well-intentioned lies can wear down even the strongest of friendships, consider giving How We Learned to Lie a shot!
Buy the Book
Win one of two hardcover copies of How We Learned to Lie*
* Terms and Conditions: Open to US residents only. Please enter on the linked page. The giveaway ends on 8/13/18. The Traveling Inkwell does not collect nor have access to any of this data and is not affiliated with the linked site or responsible for its content/data policies. The Traveling Inkwell is not responsible for the dispatch or delivery of the prize.
About the Author
Meredith Miller is the author of Little Wrecks and How We Learned to Lie. She grew up in a large, unruly family on Long Island, New York, and now lives in the UK. She is a published short story writer and literary critic with a great love for big nineteenth-century novels and for the sea. Her short stories have appeared most recently in Stand, Short Fiction, Prole, Alt Hist, and The View from Here.
Check out the full tour schedule for How We Learned to Lie here.
Warm thanks to Meredith Miller and the Fantastic Flying Book Club for providing me with a digital copy in exchange for an honest review.