Tuesday, January 3, 2017

THE HUNDRED LIES OF LIZZIE LOVETT BY CHELSEA SEDOTI - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, today it is The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti. Thank you so much to Raincoast Books for sending me an ARC/NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.



This book is so much more than it appears. From the synopsis, one will see this as a book about a missing girl and the town that rallies to find her. And it is that book, but like the characters inside it, the book has so many more layers.

When Lizzie Lovett goes missing, the main character of the story, Hawthorn (named after the tree, not the author), doesn't really see what the big deal is. Her brother, Rush is freaking out - sure, they graduated together, but it's not like they were super close - and Hawthorn doesn't get why. To her, Lizzie is fine; she didn't run away, she wasn't kidnapped or killed, those things don't happen to people like Lizzie.

Sedoti gives a unique perspective on an overdone trope of a small town missing girl. We've all read that book, where the whole town is out looking for the beautiful girl gone missing, not wanting to assume the worst. Sedoti writes Hawthorn's reaction as realistic, a little abrasive, but not necessarily negative. And I think that is more than okay. Just because someone goes missing, they don't become a saint that everyone loved. Hawthorn is the only one to grasp that at the beginning. In fact, while the town searches, Hawthorn concocts this crazy theory about what happened to her and jumps headfirst into Lizzie's world. She fills her job at the diner Lizzie worked at, she starts hanging out with Lizzie's boyfriend, Enzo, who is more deeply broken than anyone thinks.

There is, however, so much more to this book than just the mystery of Lizzie Lovett. Hawthorn struggles with her own life, facing problems at school and the impending future of college life. These elements add a dose of harsh reality that proves inescapable for both reader and character. I think this book will resonate with a lot of readers - whether they are starting college or just looking to change something in their life. Hawthorn explores this aspect of the book with very realistic commentary.

Another major element that this book speaks to is the MPDG or Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope. If you've read Looking for Alaska or Paper Towns by John Green, you will know what this is. A sort of infatuation with a person and your perceptions of who they are and not the person they really are. The whole town seems enthralled with Lizzie, Hawthorn gets to the point where she is unconsciously becoming Lizzie. But no one really knows her.

Hawthorn begins to discover a girl that is very different from the peppy cheerleader she knew when she talks to Enzo, and another girl altogether when she talks to her brother's friend Connor, who was also in that circle. Lizzie is far from perfect and not at all the person Hawthorn believes her to be. I think Sedoti develops this idea and critique of the MPDG ideal very well throughout the book. She does a good job of showing what happens when we idealize an individual, and how harmful those assumed perceptions can be.

While there were many sad and bittersweet moments in this book, there were a lot of great, hilarious elements that helped to balance the sadness. I found myself heartbroken one minute and laughing out loud at Hawthorn's snarky comments the next. Her mother, called Sparrow, was part of a hippie movement when she was a teen and her old group comes to visit unannounced. These hippie elements added some much needed hilarity as well as some decent advice when Hawthorn needed it and had no one else to turn to.

I also really enjoyed the family dynamic in the story. Hawthorn's father is a university professor and is constantly on her case about applications, her mother is a Tofurky wielding vegan who is more focused on living in the now than anything else and her older brother Rush is an ex-high school football star who is stuck at home teaching football to kids and taking classes at a community college. No one in Hawthorn's family is perfect, but they were all there and they all tried - something you don't often see in YA.

Overall, I think this book is a great, unique story that will capture the hearts of many.