Sunday, February 19, 2023

Why Would I Lie? by Adi Rule

Viveca is an obsessive overachiever, getting better than perfect grades in her classes.  She doesn't have a lot of friends (she simply doesn't have time for a social life).  Instead, she is driven to her (better than) perfect record to make up for some stupid mistakes in her past and the singular goal to get accepted to the one prestigious college that her mother attended.

At the start of her senior year, she's definitely on track to do so and to become the class valedictorian.  But then a new boy named Jamison comes to the school.  And he's amazing.  He's transferred from an elite French school, does virtually everything, excels at everything, and seems just about...well, perfect. 

Viveca is suspicious about his claims.  Too many things seem implausible, too many coincidences are convenient, and too many things don't line up.  Viveca knows all about liars.  Her father's ruined his life (and hers) through pathological lying.  She learned long ago that little he said could be trusted and she has had to deal with the consequences of his dishonesty as her father has lost jobs and friends along the way.  So, while it seems like every teacher and student in the school is willing to accept Jamison's stories, Viveca eyes him suspiciously.  Confronting and exposing Jamison, however, proves to be difficult and as she tries to do so, he goes on the offensive and attempts to discredit and destroy Viveca's reputation.  Without much social support, she quickly finds out how vulnerable she is to her peers and the fleeting loyalty of her teachers.

In the end, Viveca learns that no one can really destroy your life.  That is something only you can do.  However, it is a lesson she'll only learn once she's lost everything she thought mattered.

If you can read this lightly and without getting too invested, this is probably a pretty enjoyable book, but I found myself growing more and more infuriated at the set-up.  The level of bullying, Viveca's inability to defend herself, the connivance of the adults, and the nastiness of Viveca's peers was all pretty upsetting.  There is a good message about Viveca's need to gain some perspective, develop empathy, and work on her social skills, but the level of cruelty is a bit much for me.  The ending, where justice is (thankfully!) served is far too brief, not nearly satisfying enough, and surprisingly rushed for what we've endured in the reading.

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