2022 Reading Challenge

2022 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 5 books toward her goal of 260 books.

Book Review: The Finest Lies by David J. Naiman

About the Book
High schooler Nicole Hallett has just about had it with her brother Jay, so when a mysterious man appears with an offer to replace him with a better one, she doesn’t hesitate. Nicole has always been impulsive, but this time, she finds herself in predicament far worse than anything she’s experienced. Just like that, an average snow day—usually filled with hot cocoa and snowball fights—is commandeered by the stranger, who forces the siblings into a dangerous game.

Confronted by past reflections, tested by present complications, and threatened by future possibilities, Nicole has until the end of the day to disentangle the riddle of her life.

This suspenseful, yet winsome novel by award-winning author David J. Naiman explores the power of family and forgiveness. But take heed. The truth can cut like shards of glass, especially for those who’d rather avoid it. Sometimes, only the finest lies will do.

My Review
I really liked David J. Naiman’s previous novel. As you can see in my review, Jake, Lucid Dreamer was a very original and lovely story about survival and loss. I thoroughly enjoyed it, so when Naiman approached me to ask if I was interested in reading his latest, my answer was a resounding “Yes!”

The blurb immediately caught my attention. I have a sister, and was very curious to see how a talented author would play out the fantasies we’ve all had at one time or another about what a “better” sibling would be like. I am pleased to report that the resulting story – and thought experiment – was every bit as thought-provoking as I expected it to be. “Be careful what you wish for” indeed!!

Admittedly, I did find the pacing in this one to be a little inconsistent. There were ebbs and flows for me, as Nicole and Jay’s tale unfolded, and while I never lost the threads of the tale, I did falter a couple of times and get lost in the teenage angst of it all. But honestly, that’s par for the course I think as an adult reading a novel that is written in such an authentic-feeling teenage voice. I would roll my eyes at an actual person behaving the way Nicole (and Jay, and their cast of all-too-realistic friends and classmates) did – so to find myself doing so while reading is actually quite a compliment to the author. I’m not the target demographic here, after all…

And there are a lot of valuable lessons in this book for both its main audience AND those parents, like me, who need a sharp reminder every now and again that our kids have entire lives (both inner and external) that we don’t know the details of, and likely would be horrified if we did. Their daily challenges are very real and very intense, and facing them head-on in this novel was jarring but valuable for me. I applaud David J. Naiman resoundingly for his ability to travel inside a teenager’s head and deliver the reality of what lurks inside, in all its glories and horrors.

The novel offered insights and chuckles, horrified face-scrunching moments and delightful tender ones that left me with tears in my eyes. It was an up-and-down read that felt, for a few hours, like being a teenager again…

Thank you to the author for my obligation-free review copy.

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