"A compulsive page-turner with a shocking twistget ready to stay up all night!" Sara Shepard, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Pretty Little Liars
"Fatal Attraction meets Big Little Lies." Kirkus Reviews
Gabe and Elyse have never met. But they both have something to hide.
Quiet, shy Elyse can't believe it when she's cast as the lead in her Portland high school's production of Romeo and Juliet. Her best friend, Brynn, is usually the star, and Elyse isn't sure she's up to the task. But when someone at rehearsals starts to catch her eyesomeone she knows she absolutely shouldn't be withshe can't help but be pulled into the spotlight.
Austin native Gabe is contemplating the unthinkablebreaking up with Sasha, his headstrong, popular girlfriend. She's not going to let him slip through her fingers, though, and when rumors start to circulate around school, he knows she has the power to change his life forever.
Gabe and Elyse both make the mistake of falling for the wrong person, and falling hard. Told in parallel narratives, this twisty, shocking story shows how one bad choice can lead to a spiral of unforeseen consequences that not everyone will survive.
|Publisher:||Penguin Young Readers Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 3.30(h) x 0.90(d)|
|Age Range:||14 - 17 Years|
About the Author
Jennifer Donaldson graduated from Reed College and received her MFA from the University of Texas at Austin. She currently lives in Austin with her family.
Read an Excerpt
***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected copy proof*** Copyright © 2018 Jennifer Donaldson
Storm clouds clot the edge of the night sky, stained purple from the city lights; but somehow, right over the yucca-fringed yard, the stars are still visible. I spot Orion there at the center of the sky. It’s the only constellation I can consistently pick out: the belt, the sword, the stars dripping away like blood. On the horizon, lightning flutters.
It’s late September, the Austin air dense and heavy. I sit in my swim trunks, dangling my feet into the pool. The flagstone patio, the carefully tended native plants, and the high-end bourbon in the monogrammed glass tumbler next to me all belong to my girlfriend. To Sasha. Sasha, whose parents are out of town. Sasha, who’s swaying down the path from the house with a wooden tray of snacks, in a black-and-white bikini and a pair of flip-flops.
“Need another drink?” She holds up the crystalline decanter, waving it enticingly.
“Still nursing this one,” I say, taking her in. Her long, muscular legs. Her flat stomach and gently rounded hips.
“Lightweight,” she says. Her blue eyes sparkle as she pops the stopper out of the heavy bottle and takes a huge swig. “Aren’t you getting in?”
“I like to get used to the water first,” I say, splashing my legs up and down a few times.
“Oh yeah?” She sets the bottle down on a patio table with a heavy clunk.
Without warning, she launches herself straight at me. At the last moment she vaults over my head, coming down in a cannonball right in front of me. A wave of cool water washes over me, a shock in the heavy night air. I shake out my hair, laughing, as Sasha surfaces.
“You’re gonna get it now.” I slide into the water and push off the side. She shrieks and swims away. I launch myself across the pool, my stroke clumsy but strong, my heart racing. She lets me catch her. I slide my arms around her narrow shoulders, and every cell in my body wakes up with a jolt at the feel of her body against mine. Her skin looks so pale next to my light brown complexion. The strings of her bikini top press hard against my chest. She slides one of her long, smooth legs between mine, and my mind goes silent. Smiling, wordless, she reaches behind her neck and pulls at the knot of her halter, slowly tugging it free. Her bikini top flutters away and lands on the surface of the water, a black-and-white lily pad drifting aimless around us.
“Sasha,” I whisper. It’s not my first glimpse of her small, perfect breasts. We’ve messed around plenty of times, in the backseat of my car, in an empty bedroom at a house party, anywhere we can find privacy. But we’ve never done this so openly, without worrying about time or exposure. Shielded by the foliage, we are open to the sky above.
And then the phone rings.
Sasha’s eyes go wide, her mouth flinching into a tight-lipped scowl. “They can leave a message,” I say, but she ignores me. She gently detaches herself from my body and wades back to the side of the pool, not even bothering to cover her chest with her arms as she climbs out.
She scoops the phone up from the tray on the patio table, where it glows green between a bowl of tortilla chips and a plate of prepackaged cookies. The citronella torch gutters as she moves near it, the orange light leaving deep shadows across her face.
“Mom,” she says.
I swim toward the stairs, my stomach tight. Suddenly the idea of Mrs. Daley hovers over the backyard: her strained smile, her perfect red nails, the way she taps her foot. Sasha’s parents are lukewarm about me, at best. I’m not sure if it’s the mediocre grades, or the fact that I’m a Chicano skateboarder dating their very white daughter—never mind that I grew up in the same bougie neighborhood as them, never mind that my mom’s family has been in the U.S. for generations. They’re old money. They could find any of a hundred reasons not to like me.
The dreamlike mood of a moment earlier starts to dissipate. I suddenly realize the clouds have rolled in overhead. Orion is gone, the sky glowering and low.
Sasha still hasn’t covered up. I can see gooseflesh along her arms as I climb out of the pool. I pick up the towel hanging on the back of a deck chair, try wrapping it around her, but she pushes me away.
“How’s Aunt Patty?” she asks. A ring of black surrounds her eyes where her mascara has smeared. She pauses, her eyes flickering quickly toward me and then away. “What? No, Gabe isn’t here. Yeah, I promise. Jesus.”
Something in her face changes. Her mouth goes slack for one quick second, and then tightens to stone. She takes a few steps away, muttering into the receiver, so low I can’t make out what she’s saying. My fingers knot anxiously at my sides; I absently pick up the tumbler of bourbon and sip from it. But the biting, burning thrill of the alcohol is gone. Now it hits my stomach like acid.
“Whatever.” Sasha’s voice rises again, clipped and angry. She ends the call, and for a moment she stands still, phone in one hand.
Then she turns to the patio table and grabs the decanter, throwing it with all her might to the ground. Glass and whiskey explode at her feet, glittering in the moonlight. Before I can say anything, she launches herself across the patio toward the house, stopping just under the eaves and raising both middle fingers into the air.
“Sasha!” I sidestep the broken glass and run toward her. “They’re watching us,” she spits. She nods up toward the roof. Sure enough, I can see a tiny red light. A camera. “She checked the security cameras on her laptop.”
Watching? A sick, slimy feeling runs over my bare skin. I tug the towel more firmly around my shoulders, feeling exposed. “Holy shit.”
She grimaces. “Perverts!” she shouts at the camera. I wonder if there’s an audio feed, or if she’s just hoping her parents can read her lips.
I imagine her parents sitting in a darkened room, the light of the laptop bleaching their faces. Or maybe they’re at her aunt’s kitchen table, drinking red wine and laughing at the two of us. The whiskey churns in my gut.
I walk back to the patio furniture and pick up my shirt.
It’s halfway over my head when I feel Sasha tugging at it. “You don’t have to go,” she says. “They’re three hours away. What are they going to do, drive all the way back just to kick you out?”
I pull the shirt down over my head and raise an eyebrow at her. “Do you want to spend the rest of your junior year grounded?”
She snorts. “They can go ahead and try. It’s not like they can make me stay home.”
Typical Sasha. She’s never been into picking her battles. She prefers conflict so she can show off what a badass she is. “Yeah, I’m not really feeling this anymore. Let’s just call it a night,” I say. “Look, tomorrow we’ll head out to the Greenbelt—get out of the house, go hiking. Steer clear of cameras.”
She steps closer. “Come on, stay. We’ll go up to my room. I don’t think there’re any cameras in there.” She slides her arms around my neck. “And if there are, fuck it. We’ll give ’em a show.”
I gently disentangle myself from her grip. “Yeah, that’s not really my thing.” I pick up my skateboard from where I had leaned it next to a potted agave. Last summer my best friend Irene painted a winged eyeball across the wood. At the time I thought it looked awesome. Now it makes me think of Mrs. Daley: one more unwanted eye, spying.
“I didn’t know you were such a prude,” she mutters waspishly. I walk toward the gate at the side of the house.
“It’s just not worth getting in trouble over,” I say, reaching out to push it open. She darts in front of me, her spine whip-straight.
“Oh, I’m not worth getting in trouble over?” She’s working herself up—I can see it in the sharp angles of her limbs, the jut of her chin. If she can’t stick it to her parents, she’s going to stick it to me.
I put my hands on her shoulders, but she jerks away. “Sasha . . .”
“No, it’s okay. I guess I’m not worth the effort.”
I glance up to see another camera, under the eaves of the house. Her parents are probably still watching, enjoying the little soap opera that they set off.
“You’re worth sacrificing one stupid night for,” I say. “I’m leaving now so I can still see you later. I mean, you might not care about getting in trouble, but I care if your parents won’t let you see me.”
She opens her mouth to say something, then shuts it abruptly. For a moment she stands there, her breath heavy, her face pale with anger. Then she grabs me by the collar and pulls me down, pressing her lips to mine.
It’s rough and urgent, her tongue pushing forcefully into my mouth. I almost lose my footing but catch myself on the door frame. A part of me recoils deep inside, unnerved. She’s doing this to punish her parents; this is her flipping them off, one more time, for the cameras. The idea that they could be watching still makes my skin crawl. But something about her fierceness pulls me in, too, like it always does.
She finally pulls away. Without another word, she walks back across the patio, toward the house.
Out on the street, leaves catch in eddies of wind, skimming the roadway and then lifting off to fly away. It’s eerily quiet, and then I realize the crickets have gone silent. It’s going to rain.
I throw my skateboard down onto the pavement and kick off. It’s a relief to get away. Sasha’s engaged in a lifelong war with her mom, a former debutante from an old Dallas family, prim and tight-lipped. I don’t like feeling like I’m just a prop in the melodrama.
A sliver of lightning cuts across the clouds just overhead, and a moment later the thunder snarls. I hop up the curb and off it again. I’ll have to hurry if I want to get home before the downpour. I lean into the downward slope of the hill.
It comes out of nowhere: a flash of light, and then impact. I am flying. The wind streams around me, seeming for an impossible moment to buoy me up. It’s in that infinite moment, caught aloft, that I understand: a car. I’ve been hit by a car. The headlights surround me like a nimbus, like the light that surrounds the saints in a religious painting.
Then the second impact comes as my body hits the pavement.
The first heavy raindrops splatter around me. An icy chill unfurls through my body, spreading along my arms and legs and coiling the muscles into shivering knots. I don’t feel any pain—just the force ricocheting through my bones—but there’s something weird about how my arm is twisted. The clouds overhead swirl and glitter, pops of color exploding in their depths now. Or is that just my vision? I try to lift my head, to get a clear glimpse of my arm.
A black shape flutters into view over me, and I struggle to figure out what it is. A bat? A kite? No. An umbrella. The patter of rain on my face ceases as someone holds an umbrella over me. The someone is hard to make out; they keep splitting, dividing, merging back together, all in the strange and shimmery air. I squint up, trying to make out a face.
A cool hand rests on my cheek.
“Shhhhh.” The voice is a woman’s. A girl’s, maybe. “Don’t move.”
I stare up at her, trying to blink my head clear. The shifting world seems to be tinged with flares of sickening color now, shades of bile and blood at the corners of my vision. I hear a cell phone’s key pad and then the girl’s voice again. “I need to report an accident.”
Lightning streaks across the sky, and in its split-second illumination I see her. She’s young, a teenager. Maybe my age. Her face is thin and pale, sharp-angled. Her hair is long and dark. Then the lightning passes and all I can see is the glow of her phone against her cheek, the silhouette of the umbrella against the sky.
And then that starts to fade, too. Her voice gets farther and farther away. She’s saying something about my arm, but I can’t bring myself to worry too much about it. The sickly colors at the corners of my vision close in, throbbing for a few beats of my heart before I slide away into darkness.
“Tis almost morning. I would have thee gone,” says Brynn Catambay, touching her cheek lightly. “And yet no farther than a wanton’s bird, that lets it hop a little from his hand like a poor prisoner in his twisted . . . twisted . . . shit.”
“Gyves,” I say, reading off the script. “Twisted gyves.”
“I don’t know why I can’t get that.” She knocks her forehead lightly with her fist. “What’s that even mean?”
“It’s like a leash,” I say. She looks at me, eyebrows raised. I shrug. “I looked it up the other day. When I was going over lines.”
“Only you would prep for an audition by doing research,” she says fondly. “Nerd.”
It’s Friday, early October, and the theater swarms with activity. Last week the drama department announced that East Multnomah High’s fall production will be Romeo and Juliet, and dozens of us have gathered for the auditions. Most of the drama club is here—Frankie Nguyen, Nessa Washington, and Laura Egan hang out in the wings, running lines, and Kendall Avery sits in the front row on one of the faded theater seats, eyes closed in meditation, which she always claims helps her “get in touch” with the character. There are people I don’t know, too. A goth girl with a septum ring sits on the edge of the stage leafing through the audition packet. And there’s a guy I recognize from the basketball team, sipping from a bottle of water and laughing in the middle of a gaggle of girls. Brynn looks around the room and sighs. Everything she does shows just how comfortable she is with the attention of the world on her. Today she’s wearing tights printed all over with cats under a puff-sleeved dress. She looks like she’s either ready to attend a mad tea party or catch a train at Harajuku Station. If she weren’t also unbelievably pretty it wouldn’t work. Lucky for her she’s got pillowy lips and thick black waves and the innate ability to contour without the use of a mirror.
“Who are these people, anyway? They didn’t audition last year when we did Antigone or A Raisin in the Sun. Do something popular and every poser in Portland comes out of the woodwork.”
“Hey, watch it,” I joke. “I’m vying for one of those poser spots myself.”
“No way!” She frowns at me. “You don’t give yourself enough credit, Elyse.”
Brynn’s always pushing me, always telling me I should go for better parts. She was the one who got me into theater in the first place, back in freshman year, back when I was so shy I couldn’t meet anyone’s eye. I don’t know how she looked at me and saw actress material, but she’s stood by that assessment ever since.
“Hey, everybody, welcome.” The room quiets down almost immediately. A young, dark-haired man has stepped out onto the stage. His face is smooth and chiseled, his frame lean. He’s wearing a button-down shirt and a pair of black-framed glasses, glinting in the spotlight.
My heart speeds up a little. I twist a lock of hair around my finger; the blond looks almost dark against my Portland- pale skin.
“I’m Mr. Hunter. I’m the new drama teacher.” He smiles, revealing a dimple in his left cheek. “I know a few of you already, but I’m looking forward to meeting the rest of you. Thanks so much for coming out. Now, some of you are theater veterans by now . . .” A few people laugh, including Brynn. “But even if this is your first-ever audition, don’t worry. I want to give everyone a fair chance. So when you come on stage, tell me your name and what part you’re trying out for. You’ll start off with the monologue you’ve memorized, and then I’ll have you read a little from the script so I can get a good sense of how you approach different characters.” He claps his hands a few times. “Okay? Let’s get going. Break a leg.”
We sit down in the creaky old seats. Next to me, Brynn jogs her leg gently up and down. It’s her only sign of nerves. She’s used to this by now. She got the lead in Antigone last year and starred as Cecily in The Importance of Being Earnest the year before, the only time I know of that a freshman’s gotten such a big part. She’s almost certain to get Juliet.
We watch the parade of would-be actors, some nervous and stuttering, some hamming up every line. A slouching girl with gum in her mouth starts giggling hysterically right in the middle of the “wherefore art thou” speech, and the goth I noticed before barely speaks above a whisper. But Frankie and Laura both nail their readings, and the basketball player does a surprisingly good Tybalt, pacing angrily back and forth across the stage. And when Brynn slides into the spotlight, I can feel the whole room catch its breath. She commands the entire stage, the warm glow picking up the gold in her skin. She somehow makes her Juliet both flirty and innocent, both lovesick and playful. When she comes back to her seat, I hug her with one arm, and she gives a sheepish grin.
“Elyse McCormick?” Mr. Hunter says it like a question.
For just a moment, I freeze, my limbs suddenly senseless.
I hate going right after Brynn.
I manage to get on stage without falling flat on my face, which feels like an accomplishment in and of itself. When I’m there, vertigo tugs at my body, turning my stomach over and over. Darkness billows all around me. It flutters in the wings, it wells up from the audience and threatens to overtake me. The spotlight lands on me and I feel, for just a moment, like I’ve erupted in flame.
“Go ahead.” It’s Mr. Hunter. I can’t see him, but I know he’s a few rows back. His voice, coming so clear and so sure from the obscurity, feels like a tuning fork against my spine.
I find myself imagining that he’s the only one there—the only eyes, the only voice, the only person in the audience. My focus sharpens to a razor’s edge.
“Hi, I’m Elyse, and I’m reading for the part of the nurse,” I say. I take a deep breath, raise my chin, and begin. “Even or odd, of all days in the year, come Lammas Eve at night shall she be fourteen . . .”
I can feel the change come over me as I recite the words. It always happens—or it happens when I’m focused, when I’ve found something in the role to love. My shoulders round for- ward, my mouth quirks upward into a wistful grin, and I slide into character with ease. People always play Juliet’s nurse like she’s silly, but to me there’s something so sad about her. The first thing she talks about is her own dead child, and then she’s hushed and dismissed for speaking so fondly of little Juliet. There’s a whole tale of loss and longing beneath the surface, and it’s treated like a joke. I feel a little anger creep into my words, and I let it come—I let it flavor the warm, loving language, ever so slightly.
I’m not like Brynn. She’s been doing theater since she was seven, a tiny diva in the making. I only started going to drama club because I was looking for something to do, for a way to avoid going straight home after school. I hadn’t intended to fall so head over heels in love with it. Brynn was right—there was something in me that wanted to perform, to speak loud and clear at the center of the stage. To be seen. To be heard.
My monologue comes to a close. The air on the stage is almost stifling in the heat of the lights. The nurse fades away, and I’m just me again, awkward and exposed. My hands come together at my heart, anxious and fidgety.
His voice returns. Deep, but light, agile. He must be an actor himself. Our previous drama teacher, Ms. Harris, was an old kook, a free spirit in caftans and shawls who had us pretend to be a leaf on a tree as a theater warm-up. But Mr. Hunter exudes a kind of articulate calm; it’s easy to imagine him on stage, speaking poetry to the darkness beyond.
“Thank you, Elyse. Can you go ahead and pick up that script there . . . yes, right by your left foot . . . and read from page forty-two?”
I pick up the packet, leaf through. Then I frown. “This is Juliet’s line,” I say.
“I want to hear how you read a few different characters, please. Juliet’s just found out that Romeo’s been banished for killing Tybalt. Go ahead when you’re ready.”
I scan the monologue briefly, wishing I could wipe the sweat off my forehead but not wanting to smear my makeup. Juliet, caught between loyalties. Juliet, who’s just now realizing the full weight of her decisions. I start to read out loud. “But wherefore, villain, didst thou kill my cousin? That villain cousin would have killed my husband.”
I take her on like a mask, and I turn into someone worthy of a spotlight.
When my words finally fade, there’s a long silence from the auditorium.
By now my eyes have adjusted a little, and I can just barely make him out, a faceless shape beyond the footlights. He shifts his weight; I hear papers rustling. But his voice betrays nothing.
“Thank you, Elyse. Who’s next?”
After everyone’s had a chance to audition, Mr. Hunter takes the stage one more time. Now that I can see him clearly again, the spell is broken—all the intensity of his voice replaced with mild-mannered cheerfulness.
“There’s so much talent in this room! I’m going to be faced with a very difficult decision in the coming days. I plan to have the casting list up outside the ticket office by end of day Monday. Thanks so much.”
The room breaks into scattered applause, and then the lights come up and we’re all rubbing our eyes and gathering our things. I pick up my backpack and turn to see Brynn, a slight frown creasing her forehead. She looks at me in mild surprise, as if she’s just now noticed something.
“He asked me to read. What was I supposed to do?” I can’t quite keep a note of apology out of my voice, even though I know I shouldn’t feel bad. That’s how auditions work; everyone gets a chance. Even me.
“I didn’t say anything.” She holds up her hands defensively. “I’m just annoyed because you were good. I didn’t realize I was about to get upstaged.”
I’m spared having to answer by Mr. Hunter, coming down the aisle toward us. He’s smiling, eyes sparkling behind his glasses.
“Elyse, can I talk to you privately for a moment?” he asks. Brynn’s eyes narrow slightly. I feel my cheeks grow warm again, my pulse a staccato beat against my temple.
“Um . . .okay. Brynn, I’ll text you later, okay?”
“Sure,” she says. She picks up her purse and slides it slowly over her shoulder, frowning a little. “Bye, Mr. Hunter.”
“Good work today, Brynn. Thanks for coming out.” He watches Brynn make her way down the aisle.
And then we’re alone. The theater suddenly feels cavernous, the two of us huddled close together against the echoing dark. His glasses catch the light just so, and for a moment I can’t see his eyes. My fingers twist anxiously around one another. Did I do something wrong? Am I in trouble already? But when he turns to look at me again he’s smiling. My throat feels dry and tight, but I swallow hard and force a smile back.
“I’m not supposed to do this,” he says softly. “But I can’t resist. I wanted to tell you that you’ve got the part.”
His words don’t make sense at first. I stare at him. “What part?”
“Juliet.” He grins. “Don’t tell anyone else yet—I’m posting the final decisions next week. But I wanted to see your face when you found out.”
My mouth falls open. I shake my head mutely. “But . . . but I auditioned for the nurse.”
“You’d be wasted on the nurse,” he says.
I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry. A bright, warm feeling fills my chest. I don’t want to be this easy to flatter, but hearing that he thinks I’m talented makes me realize just how hungry I am for exactly that kind of praise.
“I don’t know, Mr. Hunter. I’ve never . . . I’ve never carried a lead before. You probably want to pick Brynn. She’s good. And she’s already done some Shakespeare; at theater camp last year she played . . .”
He’s shaking his head already. “Brynn is good. She’s quite good. But she’s not what I want in a Juliet. You, Elyse . . . you’re really quite remarkable.” Our eyes meet. This close I can see that his eyes are hazel, the kind that looks blue, green, and gold in equal measure. For a second I’m unable to move.
“I . . . what if I can’t do it?” I whisper. “What if I’m not good enough?”
“I’m not worried about that,” he says. He puts a hand on my shoulder and squeezes.
It’s starting to sink in, starting to feel real. The lead. He’s giving me the lead. A smile spreads slowly across my face.
“You’re actually serious?” I ask. “I’m going to be Juliet?”
“Yes,” he says.
I can’t help it. I throw my arms around his neck, squealing softly. He’s taller than me, so I have to stand on my tiptoes.
“Thank you!” I say. “Mr. Hunter, thank you.”
“Don’t thank me. You earned it. Congratulations, Elyse. I’m really excited to start working with you.” He gently disentangles himself from me.
I look up at the stage, the scratches and markings on the wood intimately familiar by now. I can almost picture myself, limned by light, in Juliet’s dress. Standing on the balcony. Dancing at the masquerade. Dying in the crypt, heartbroken and beautiful.
“I won’t let you down,” I say.
He’s suddenly serious. He looks me in the eye again, appraising, intent. Then he smiles.
“I know you won’t,” he says.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Well, that was ridiculous. How do you rate a book where you don't love the writing, and the characters get on your every last nerve, yet you CAN'T PUT IT DOWN? I loved the alternating viewpoints between Gabe's story and Elyse's story. The short, quick chapters sucked me in fast and didn't let go. Unfortunately, the writing itself was rather juvenile and I wasn't a fan of the style. I also had a hard time liking either Elyse or Gabe and was constantly cringing at both of them and their actions. Yet, I couldn't stop reading. I had to find out what happened. I figured the two stories would tie together at some point, but couldn't figure out how until I got closer to the end. So yes, I would recommend this one. It's not the best book ever, but it's definitely a quick and fun read.
I won this as a goodreads give-away and am glad I did! A gripping, thrilling, page-turning YA novel that grabbed you from the beginning until the last page! It touches base on many different relationships. How lies, secrets, desires and choices in life can haunt you, make you question things and make you rethink if the choices you made were the right ones. This was a quick read that kept you guessing. A mixture of romance, thriller, mystery and young adult relationships, struggles and emotions. Lies You Never Told Me can be broken down into two stories. The first is about Gabe, a teenager who gets lost in a relationship with his girlfriend Sasha and questions why he stays with her. Sasha is the typical high school popular girl and bully. He decides to break up with her, however Sasha does not want the relationship to end. Sasha tries different things to get Gabe back. She is the epidemy of a psycho ex-girlfriend. Gabe starts falling for another girl Catherine and that too is a complicated relationship in itself. And while this is all happening Gabe finds himself a victim of a hit and run. The second story in Lies You Never Told Me is about a girl named Elyse who is a teenage high school student who tries to hide a family secret about her mother, while going to school, working and keeping her and her mother from becoming homeless. Her only outlet of feeling normal is from her drama theater class. She gets a role in the school play and her life gets even more complicated. She falls for her high school drama teacher, Aiden Hunter and she has to hide this from everyone including her best friend Brynn. And her story unfolds from there. In the end, these two stories collide together in such a way, it leaves the readers wanting more and gives you that aha moment of why the book was written how it was. I rated it 4/5 because it was a little confusing of how the two stories tied together until you got to the end. Both stories told in Lies You Never Told Me dealt with a complicated teenage relationship though both very different, psychologically gripping and written in a way you get pulled to the characters, the stories didn't collide until the end so you were wondering throughout the book why it was written like it was and felt disconnected from each other. You felt like you were reading 2 separate novels until the last few chapters. I would highly recommend this book to YA readers and adults who want a fast read, like a book told in different character perspectives, want a mystery/psychothriller mixed in with romance and relationship issues, those who like engaging characters and teenage issues that adults can understand as well!!!! I would say it's a YA book that compares adults book authors like Gillian Flynn, B.A. Paris, Lisa Jewell and others with similar writing styles and plots!
This book gets 5 stars strictly for entertainment purposes. I bought this book used on a whim because I thought I had heard of it and decided to give it a try. I did not expect to enjoy it as much as I did. I read it in one sitting! There are many perspectives to follow, but it did not make it confusing to read. Each character was very flushed out and had their own drama that helped you connect to each one. There is a huge twist at the end that for some reason I did not see coming. I have read other reviews that it was predictable, but I did not feel like that was the case. I was completely taken by surprise at the end, which does not often happen with YA thrillers so this was a pleasant surprise. I'm glad that I gave this one a shot!
Thank you Netgalley for the Advanced Copy in exchange for my honest review. I enjoy reading YA book every now and then. This didn't disappoint. A gripping tale about mind games, very suspenseful! Lots of twist and turns--keep you guessing! Look forward to more from this Author!
This book will seriously keep you up reading until dawn. I could NOT put it down!! Shy Elyse tries out for the school play, not expecting much. But the day of part assignments, she's incredibly shocked to see her name next to Juliet! (Yes, as in Romeo and Juliet). Gabe is a sweet boy from Austin, but when he considers the unthinkable- breaking up with his popular girlfriend Sasha, he realizes that a simple choice may have many complications surrounding it. Elyse and Gabe realize too late that one choice has many consequences, and some that will affect the rest of their lives. Those of them who survive. This is such a page turner, and like I said you won't be able to put it down! Go read it now!
This book was outstanding! I’ve never read anything by this author, but it will added to my auto buy author list. I thought it was told in such a great way to the point where everything came together I was blown away. I had a tingling feeling that maybe I knew where the whole thing was going, but not to the extent, I’m floored by how amazing it was. I loved both the perspectives the story was told in, and was wondering how everything would line up. Gabe and Elyse were both lovable characters to me, I thought they both really acted in ways that were relatable. I didn’t agree with a lot of their choices but I always saw where they were coming from. The side characters (Mr. Hunter and Sasha) pissed me off to the point where they were the perfect additions! It’s not often I find a great psychological thriller in YA, actually I haven’t read any that have ever even touched on this great! This is a must read for lovers of this genre and people who just want to get into it. I honestly can’t rave enough about this one, just go pick it up!!
"Lies You Never Told Me" follows two teens through each of their perspectives. Elyce lives with her opioid addicted mother and struggles to work at night to pay the bills. She joined theater at the high school at the urging of her BFF, Brynn, and is shocked when this year, she is cast as Juliet in Romeo & Juliet. Her life is about to change in even bigger ways when the teacher supervising the production begins to take an interest in her. Gabe has been dating the cool girl, Sasha, but has not been so into her lately. After a car accident with a hit and run driver, he becomes attracted to the girl who called the ambulance for him, Catherine. However, breaking up with Sasha starts her on a path to destroying his life, and no one in his family or personal life is safe. With alternating perspectives, we follow each of the characters to the unexpected ending. With the feeling of a thriller for each of them in different ways, we turn the pages quickly to the intense conclusion. This book really deals with some big issues, including mental illness, addiction, inappropriate teacher-student relationships, and domestic abuse, so there should definitely be a warning for that. Overall, I really enjoyed the book and found it to be a fast and engaging read. The build-up to the ending is really well done and this is a great YA suspense that deals with some really big issues. Please note that I received a copy through a giveaway. All opinions are my own.
Gabe balances a full life; between a small circle of close friends, caring for Vivi, his younger sister with Down's, and school, it's a wonder he has room for the high-maintenance demands of his queen bee girlfriend, Sasha. None of his friends approve of the relationship and her parents clearly disapprove of their daughter dating a Mexican-American. Gabe stays with her for more than just Sasha's looks, though. She's a master manipulator who makes a sport out of humiliating and ostracizing those who irritate her. His consternation over the repercussions of a break-up is a painful reminder of just how small high school can feel. It's also well-earned. Once Sasha's revenge extends beyond school and begins impacting his friends and family, those frightening violations subtly play into race and gender biases in a he said/she said argument. His story is interwoven with that of Elyse, a shy and talented girl living halfway across the country. Her mother suffers from a debilitating drug addiction; Elyse works at a local movie theater to keep food on the table and is careful not to speak too explicitly about her home life in order to keep social services at bay. At first only her best friend knows how bad things have gotten, until a poorly directed crush develops from a mentor, to a friend, to crossing clearly drawn boundaries. Her hunger for normalcy and the rewards of an early adulthood, rather than just the stresses, make Elyse instantly sympathetic. That desire to be seen, to be treated like an equal and appreciated by someone you admire is so recognizable, even when she directs it towards a person who should never take advantage of those feelings. As she and Gabe both get caught up in toxic relationships, events tumble out of their control astonishingly fast. Of the two, I found Elyse's half of the story more compelling and sympathetic, although both she and Gabe are fully realized characters. The supporting cast in Gabe's narrative are a little more cliched, though. Sasha comes across like the generic "crazy ex" at times and his friends function mostly as placeholders. By contrast, Elyse's best friend Brynn is treated with much more nuance. She genuinely cares and gets to show it through actions, not just words. Her mother also takes a more active role despite her initial struggles with addiction. What I most appreciated—and what has drawn some criticism—is how Elyse reflects on an unhealthy relationship at the end of the novel. Something that began as an adolescent crush quickly grew beyond the bounds of anything she was capable of controlling. Rather than magically breaking free of both her original feelings and the extent to which they were manipulated, Elyse remains conflicted. She knows what happened was wrong and she suffered for it, but she still remembers the warm glow of her attraction too. I can understand some readers' desire for an outright condemnation through Elyse, but her equivocal response feels much more honest. Although one story arc felt more robust than the other, Lies You Never Told Me still boasts two outstanding main characters whose troubles actually reflect what teens today might encounter. Donaldson writes at a quick clip: this is easily a one-sitting read if you can manage. The much-publicized twist may have been telegraphed by the time it's revealed, but both it and the conclusion are emotionally satisfying and well-suited to the overall story.
Dual narrated by Gabe and Elyse, we get to see into two very different teens lives, wondering how the two stories will converge. And now that the book is over, I can honestly say that I did not see the surprise coming, and I feel a little like an idiot. The author did a fantastic job of keeping the reader in the moment, fully engaged in the trauma of now, the big picture did not even come up. Both teens are going through some very messed up, awful situations that seem so out of their control, but everything in the book was so very realistic and pulled me in emotionally. I liked how the author created a scenario for Gabe that we usually hear about with girls, but I liked the differing view, showing that anyone can be a victim in a bad relationship. Gender means nothing, abuse transcends all, and abuse can come from any direction and be overwhelming. Gawd, and poor Elyse! Her story was so realistic and so heartbreaking, it was easy to see how she could fall into the relationship. Her family life is a hot mess making her the adult before her time, she is stressed out by school, life and the play that she never expected to be staring in- any positive attention would make her feel special, wanted, needed... I wanted to stage an intervention in the worst of ways, but instead I just had to keep reading the pages and watch everything play out. This was the first book by Jennifer and I am highly impressed with what she was able to create. This was a really interesting, twisty, emotional, completely messed up ya story that I lost myself in. I look forward to what she wants to write about next. Side note, everyone had chapped lips in this book. The author mentioned chapped lips repeatedly for all the characters and it was a little intense for my liking. As someone addicted to chapstick, have these kids ever heard of using something to get rid of chapped lips? Just saying.
I haven't read a YA book in a long time. I don't even remember having YA thrillers when I was a young adult, so this was a true treat for me. Centered upon 4 different high schoolers, Gabe, Elyse, Catherine and Sasha, and told from the perspective of Gabe and Elyse, this book gives the reader the typical life of the modern high school student. There's backstabbing, social media bullying, spying, jealousy, raging hormones, parental issues, and everything else that comes with growing up today. Gabe is one of the more popular kids, dating Sasha, the most popular girl. She's terrible, and he wants to leave her. Especially after meeting Catherine. But Sasha seems dangerous and he has to tread lightly. For good reason. Elyse is a shy girl, raising herself while her junkie mother nods off on the couch. She gets the lead in the play, which awakens feelings in her she didn't know she had. Further attributing to that awakening is the school's young drama teacher. Her life is about to get messy, as she confuses raising herself with being an adult. While the buildup was pretty slow, the end of the book is worth it. There are twists and turns along the way, with one big ultimate shocker. I tore through the pages, wondering what would happen next. how would Gabe handle his psycho ex? How would Elyse handle her new role as Juliet in the school play (and in real life)? Thank you to the publisher, the author, and Bookishfirst for this free copy.
I received a copy of this book and am voluntarily and honestly reviewing it. Overall, I really wanted to like this book. From the synopsis, it sounded like an interesting book with characters that, if well done, could have been interesting to read. However, upon reading the first half of this book, I could feel my hopes slipping away slowly but surely. The characters... These characters are predictable. Chances are, you've read about characters 100% like these but in a better setting. Also, instalove isn't the kind of relationship I've ever wanted to read about. Sure, there are some works where it can be done and come of kind of cute, but I don't think this was one of them. The instalove plot and the lack of interesting characters really killed any love for this book that I could have had. The twists weren't really twists for me. I saw them coming from a mile off. It's just too predictable a plot for it to have worked for me. Also, let's gripe about something a bit inconsequential. Really author? Really? It wouldn't have killed you to do some research about the social media app you added into the story for no good reason. It's not only unnecessary for the plot but it was also made incredibly bad but a lack of research or prior use of the app in question. That is all. Not recommended by me at all really, unless you're into to cliched stories with predictable plot and instalove.
Won Paperback ARC from BookishFirst.com! I keep flipping back and forth with a rating for this book. 4 or 5? 4.5? I've finally decided on a 4 because I didn't love *everything* about it. But that twist!!!! It was amazing. The way that the book was formatted was so excellent and a perfect setup for where the story went. It was super fun to see my name in a book, this is only the second time! The only other time is The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler. I enjoyed the POVs. One is Gabe, a teen from Texas and the other is Elyse, a teen from Oregon. How do they make one story? Where do their paths cross? There's so much I can't talk about but this book was such a great thriller! I'm definitely game for more Jennifer Donaldon books in the future!
Lies You Never Told Me stars four major teen characters. Gabe, recovered from an accident and trying to rid himself of his horrific "girlfriend" Sasha. Chance encounter with the mysterious Catherine leaves him wanting more. The other perspective is of Elyse, who has fallen in love with her teacher and is desperately trying to hid her feelings. After reading so many "keep you guessing until the end" books, I FOR SURE thought I knew how all this was going to come together and then BAM!! Complete surprise. I loved how Jennifer Donaldson kept the suspense built throughout the book. The interactions between her characters seemed genuine and the responses and feelings were on point (everything from the popular to the shy).
Lies You Never Told Me is the story about two teenagers, Gabe and Elyse, and how the secrets in their lives affect and change everything they touch. This is Jennifer Donaldson’s debut novel, and I have to say she’s done a pretty good job with it. It’s an interesting and quick read that’ll keep you hooked until the end. Lies You Never Told Me is an interesting novel; it switches back and forth between Gabe and Elyse’s perspectives, and for the longest time they both seem like they have nothing in common. Slowly more and more is revealed about both characters, allowing us to get a fuller picture of what is actually going on. And that’s where things get crazy. I imagine that most readers will come back saying they liked one perspective more than the other; at least that’s the case for me. While I found Elyse interesting, up until the end it was Gabe’s chapters I was reading this book for. It was interesting seeing his life affected by a liar like his ex/girlfriend and just how far down the rabbit hole he had gotten. Typically when I’ve read novels focused on liars and how it’ll ruin lies it’s almost always from the liar’s perspective, so I found this to be an incredibly refreshing point of view. Ironically my focus on Gabe’s chapters caused me to miss some of the subtlety in Elyse’s story. I wonder if I hadn’t been so wrapped up with his woes, would I have figured out what was going on sooner? I did end up sorting it all out before the big reveal, but just barely. I’ll be curious to see how that goes for other readers. Donaldson does a pretty decent job of representing two totally different forms of toxic relationships. She shows us that they can be subtle and pervasive, or obvious and overwhelming. There are endless varities to the way toxic relationships can form and grow, and these are only two examples, but you can tell that they’re well thought out. It’s sometimes difficult to discuss relationships like this, but it’s very important we’re aware that this can happen. That the victim can feel guilty for things they didn’t do, or that they won’t be believed by others when their partner goes after them. I’m grateful for Donaldson’s novel giving an opening for this discussion, and I hope people run with it. Like I said earlier, this was an incredibly fast read. I think I ended up reading the whole thing in just one sitting, which was ideal for me in this case. I don’t think I would have wanted to put it down and put off the ending any longer than I did. There were a few points in the story where I found my immersion breaking; where the belief I was required to give for the sake of the story was just too much. I’m sure this is the sort of writing that’ll be smoothed out with time, as Jennifer Donaldson gets more experience writing I’d be willing to bet that we’ll see less of that. On the whole I’m pretty happy with this read. Did I feel that some points were larger than life? Sure. But I also felt that there were some very intense and important conversations started here, and that easily balances out that complaint. I’ll be curious to see what Donaldson comes out with next.
This is how thrillers should be. Everyone, take note. Look, by far the genre I’m the most pickiest with is thrillers. So rare do I genuinely care for a character’s safety, or am surprised by the so-called twists and turns of the plot. I’ve read HERE LIES DANIEL TATE and was meh about it. I’ve read THE HANGING GIRL and was disappointed. ONE OF US IS LYING was fun fluff, but nothing more. But this one? I think it’s safe to say that LIES YOU NEVER TOLD ME is my favorite thriller. Ever. My favorite thing about this was how it truly throws you for a loop. I couldn’t predict how ANYTHING will play out, and this is a first for me. The story, as the synopsis tells you, alternates between the stories of Elyse and Mr Hunter (which, side note: gross) and Gabe and his girlfriend, Sasha. And from the outset, it seems like the two are unrelated (they’re in different states, even), but I promise you they are. And the link between them blew. My. Mind. The writing, the writing, the writing. It’s lovely. And this is an observation you could notice right off the bat, when the opening chapter begins with a thunderstorm at night. And the story is structured in a way that won’t tell you everything at once, and would leave you guessing, and then laugh in your face because your guesses are WRONG. I love that. Okay but, there were some things I wasn’t hugely a fan of, but they’re tiiiiny things, so there’s that. One: Compared to Elyse, Gabe’s narration is bland. He’s not very fleshed out as a character because I legit cannot really describe him to you. Like, is he shy or outgoing or smart or average or funny or ..? He needed a bit more oomph. The poor boy had an oomph deficiency. And two: Sasha. I couldn’t really see how her part was integrated into the overall picture. She’s like borderline red herring and borderline ... not. So I don’t see her overarching purpose except perhaps to keep the reader on her toes. But overall? I looooved this one. A compelling plot, and gorgeous writing, and an ending that was absolutely mind blowing. I dare say, even if you don’t like thrillers, give this one a try. Thank you, PenguinTeen, for the ARC!
A tale of two narratives, in Lies You Never Told Me, debut novelist Jennifer Donaldson deftly flips back and forth between the first person points-of-view of high school students Gabe (in Austin) and Elyse (in Portland). An addicting work of romantic suspense, although it opens with an air of mystery followed by the bang of a hit-and-run, the book slows down enough to carefully build the characters and effectively develop their alternating storylines to the point that – to the author's credit – there's no easily mistaking one for the other. Nicely balancing the intrigue of a Gabe chapter with the drama of an Elyse (and vice versa), the book's pace quickens with each chapter to the point that I found myself nearly unable to put it down. And despite the fact that I was able to piece together precisely how and why the two characters were connected roughly a quarter of the way into the novel, thanks to certain context clues, the book is so well written that I wasn't disappointed in the slightest. Of course, that being said, the less you know going in the better. Reminiscent of a great character driven '80s thriller from the Hollywood heyday of Fatal Attraction, in spite of a slightly contrived climax, Lies You Never Told Me is a terrific stay up all night summer read you'll definitely want to recommend to a friend.
I received a free copy of this book for review. Opinions shared are mine. Lies You Never Told Me had just enough suspense to keep it unpredictable, and there was a clever plot twist thrown in to make it worth the read. Much of the ironic beauty of this book is revealed through perspective. Everything changes depending upon whose eyes you see it through. Author Jennifer Donaldson parades her characters through all kinds of Fatal Attraction drama, but through the narrative, the reader discovers the truth behind the veil. I correctly guessed some of the ending, but was still surprised by how it all panned out. There were lots of disturbing elements to Lies You Never Told Me. First, the creepy pedophile teacher makes me squeamish. Ewww, but sadly it’s something that shows up on the news all too frequently. Next, the drug addict mom hits a little close to home. Finally, there’s the cliche manipulative girlfriend who just doesn’t seem to have all her marbles. There are many other weird topics that get lumped together, making this a truly unbelievable story. Still, that stretch of the imagination is partly what makes teen fiction enjoyable. Lies You Never Told Me gave me a bit of insight into the teen mind. It made me consider how much kids need their parents, even when they’re not good parents. It also reminded me that sometimes we have no idea what’s going on in our kids’ lives — which is kind of scary! It’s a page-turner, and I read it in less than five hours.
This book is one clever, clever page-turner. From the first page, I found myself drawn to the story and its characters, yearning to understand how their lives would intertwine and, if not, what connection they shared that would make them co-narrators of this story. My desire to find out what would happen next was so strong that it felt almost physically impossible to put this book down. I can't put my finger on what it was exactly, but something about the writing really drew me in. Both narrator's voices were very strong and distinctive. Not only that, they felt like the realistic thoughts and reactions of the teenagers they belonged to and their circumstances. Its been far too often that the books I've read have featured teenage protagonist with voices that were either too mature or too immature. I think Lies You Never Told Me hit the perfect middle-ground, in which the narrators' voices were perfectly reflective of their age and mindset, which I greatly appreciated. That being said, I also have to say that there were several instances in the story where I was looking for more than what I was given. If I'm honest, Sasha's story-line felt a bit off at times. The character is vital to story, but a huge part of her arc seemed almost unnecessary in a larger context, with little motivation seemingly being given for her actions. Certain aspects of the story likewise didn't seem to meet full closure by the story's end, which was a bit disappointing. Overall, this book is totally worth the read if only for that one plot twist. I can't say it or even hint at it since its so good, but I gasped out loud once I put two and two together. The author did a truly fantastic job.
I read this book about a month ago and I had heard really stellar reviews. I ended up sort of feeling as though I was waiting around for the climax and then it immediately ended and the ending really made me feel like I wanted more for both of the main characters. I definitely felt like this was more of a tween book and not a YA thriller. I wish the back and forth between characters were tied together more throughout the story. Towards the end I wasn't really like HOLY SMOKES I cannot believe that person was involved with that. I suppose it was meant to be sort of like that but I ended up feeling bored most of the way and felt as though I was waiting around to identify with the characters. There was a lot of drama and not a lot of pay off.
This book is a great read for the age range this book is intended for, but don’t mistaken it not being a good read for those of us beyond that age range. I enjoyed Lies You Never Told Me. It wasn’t my top read of this year but it definitely held my interest enough to read it until the end. It can easily be a one-sit read. The story is told in multiple POV, which I have always been fond of as a reader, which allows us readers to really connect to each individual that much more. The suspense in this story will get the readers mind rolling quite a bit and some you may guess or have suspicions of from the beginning and one in particular that had me going “OH. HECK. I. KNEW. IT..,” which really was when the author decided to let you in on that bit – LOL. Overall, it was an okay read for me and for sure it teaches us quite a few things on always have physical evidence for everything ( I promise you that is not a spoiler).
I really did not know how Elyse, Gabe, Catherine, and Sasha would come together. I adored Gabe as he was a sweet character who loved his sister. Catherine intrigued me. I struggled with Elyse but adored her best friend Brynn. I recommend going into the book blind as it is easy to spoil. Sasha scared me quite a bit. I feel that storyline highlighted how men have a hard time getting protection against female abusers. Much of this story pissed me off but it is designed to do exactly that, and was clearly the author’s intent. I don’t know if the book finished with reading discussion questions but I think it would be helpful if it did. A solid YA suspense for readers looking for a different YA book.
LIES YOU NEVER TOLD ME is a perfect summertime page turner. I found it to be a fun, compulsive read. Gabe is a high school student from Austin with a “Mean Girls” girlfriend, Sasha. When they break up, Gabe meets Catherine and things quickly go sideways. Elyse gets the lead in her Portland high school’s production of Romeo and Juliet and attracts the eye of an admirer. Told in parallel storylines, the novel examines the consequences of decisions, not made with bad intent at the time, but with dire repercussions later on. Jennifer Donaldson has created a fast paced read that moves seemlessly between the two storylines. The protagonists, Gabe and Elyse are very likeable and well crafted. The reader really grows to care about these characters. The sense of mystery and menace really draws the reader into these characters’ worlds and the end has some twists and turns that I won’t discuss because I hate spoilers! All in all, LIES YOU NEVER TOLD ME is a page turner with enough dark energy to move the story forward at a quick pace. I highly recommend this read. This is a solid 4 out of 5 star read for me. Thank you to Razorbill and Bookish First for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
Simply told – the lies they never told me? Well, it’s that this was going to be more predictable than the little murder-mystery I found while reading an upcoming YA scifi, This Splintered Silence or that mysterious poet in the upcoming YA contemporary romance, Kiss Collector. So for a thriller’s predictability level, that’s pretty bad. It was that “shocking ending” promised in the promo and the ARC foreword that set my standards really high. I don’t quite remember the exact wording anymore, but I was super excited going into this. At the time, I was impressed with myself, when I thought I only guessed part of the twist less than halfway through. But then as the novel approached the climax, I just kept guessing little bits and pieces, found lots of obvious lying around within the text. But yet, I convinced myself – oh, I bet the author is trying to misguide me here only to throw that shocker in the end. So needless to say, until I turned that last page, I was still expecting that so-called “shocking ending” which is only ever THE satisfying solution to a suspenseful read. Alas, I saw all of it coming. EVERYTHING. And I didn’t know who to blame. I don’t even read that much thriller… …life is messy, and weird, and hard, and no one story is the absolute truth. On a positive note, I thought it was fun to read the parallel POVs and neither Gabe nor Elyse was particularly irritating, so that’s a plus. Also, I did particularly enjoy the Romeo & Juliet rehearsal scenes – oh to parse Shakespeare’s play and characters, what joy! Overall, for anyone looking for a thriller that will keep you guessing, I wouldn’t particularly recommend this – instead I’ll suggest you read Bad Girls with Perfect Faces (I didn’t even know I was supposed to be guessing, so I never saw the twist coming, read it in one sitting, too!) or One of Us Is Lying (I guessed this before the big reveal, but it kept me guessing anyway! I was never 100% sure throughout). The tl;dr version: find something else to read.
Entertaining, a page turner, only took a few hours to read. Was it great literature...no. But the characters were engaging and I wanted to find out what happened to them and how their stories intersected. I thought the characters of Gabe and Sasha were well thought out and we got to see how they progressed. I was a little disappointed that we didn't get to see more of Elyse's life on the run before she encountered Gage. Also would have liked to have Aidan's life more fleshed out in the book, learn more about his past to see if this was a pattern. The ending though I thought was perfect, leaving these two young people to a future full of possibilities. Thank you to the publisher for my ARC.
Couldn't Put It Down Although YA thrillers are not my typical genre, this one had me hooked. I binge read this book in two days and would definitely file this under "train wrecks you can't look away from." First up though, I think it's important to mention that the plot revolves around several unhealthy romantic relationships, so if that is a trigger for you, then I would probably not read this. If addictive romantic thrillers are your thing though, then add this to your TBR! As a debut thriller, the Donaldson's writing is strong and believable, and she is able to keep you guessing until the end. The story is told through alternative perspectives. Elyse live is Portland, and has never had the luxury of getting to act like a kid. With her dad in prison and her mom addicted to pain killers, Elyse is the one left in charge of paying the bills and making sure her and her mom don't get evicted. So when a new handsome theater teacher finally gives her a chance to be in the spotlight and claims to know what she's going through, no one is surprised that she develops feelings for him. But seriously, as a reader, all I did was cringe at how over the line this teacher is. The other perspective is Gabe, who goes to high school in Austin. He's had the last straw with his extremely controlling girlfriend Sasha and breaks up with her. But Sasha is having none of it and will go to whatever means necessary to get Gabe back. If I met her in real life, I would be terrified of her. My reaction to literally everything she did was "WHAT!?!?!!" There was so much drama in this book. I was shouting advise at the characters almost the whole time, scary movie style. If you are a fan of Big Little Lies or Pretty Little Liars, you will probably enjoy this book.