LIE (Review)

Labels: A Lighter Touch


Caroline Bock, 2011
224 pp.

Book Review by Molly Lundquist
December, 2011
A double meaning lies at the heart of this book's title—"lie" as falsehood and "LIE" as the Long Island Expressway, a vast stretch of highway running the length of New York's Long Island.

In Caroline Bock's fictional world, LIE is the fault line, dividing Anglo culture from Hispanic—and truth from lie. The story hinges on which side of the LIE you're on.

Skylar Thompson's boyfriend—the high school's most popular, admired student—is arrested, along with his best friend, for brutalizing two San Salvadoran brothers. Skylar finds herself confronted by the police who want to know what she knows...and she knows more than she lets on.

She knows, for instance, as does everyone—teachers and parents and other students—that boyfriend Jimmy heads up a band of kids who go "beaner-hopping" on Saturday nights. They search out Hispanics, trip them up, and beat them up. But no harm done, really; it's just a game.

What's so very good about this book is that while the author places young people in the midst of a horrific dilemma—to divulge the truth or not—she makes their quandary palpable without over-dramatizing. Bock also draws a clear moral distinction between right and wrong but, again, does so without preaching and condescension. The only false note is in Jimmy Seegar's father, the single character who seems overdrawn.

What struck me about this book was the role of adults—parents and school officials. What values were being communicated over the years? Their oversight amounted to "see nothing" and guidance to "do nothing." This topic alone offers a rich vein of discussion for book clubs. But LIE is ripe with topical issues—ethnic hate crimes, teenage hierachies, parental responsibilities, and the meaning of loyalty. I admire this book—and recommend it for young and older adults.

See our Reading Guide for LIE.

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