Tell Me Lies by Carola Lovering
Published by Atria Books on June 12, 2018
Genres: Adult Fiction, Contemporary
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Lucy Albright is far from her Long Island upbringing when she arrives on the campus of her small California college, and happy to be hundreds of miles from her mother, whom she’s never forgiven for an act of betrayal in her early teen years. Quickly grasping at her fresh start, Lucy embraces college life and all it has to offer—new friends, wild parties, stimulating classes. And then she meets Stephen DeMarco. Charming. Attractive. Complicated. Devastating.
Confident and cocksure, Stephen sees something in Lucy that no one else has, and she’s quickly seduced by this vision of herself, and the sense of possibility that his attention brings her. Meanwhile, Stephen is determined to forget an incident buried in his past that, if exposed, could ruin him, and his single-minded drive for success extends to winning, and keeping, Lucy’s heart.
Lucy knows there’s something about Stephen that isn’t to be trusted. Stephen knows Lucy can’t tear herself away. And their addicting entanglement will have consequences they never could have imagined.
Alternating between Lucy’s and Stephen’s voices, TELL ME LIES follows their connection through college and post-college life in New York City. With the psychological insight and biting wit of Luckiest Girl Alive, and the yearning ambitions and desires of Sweetbitter, this keenly intelligent and staggeringly resonant novel chronicles the exhilaration and dilemmas of young adulthood, and the difficulty of letting go—even when you know you should.
Wow talk about a roller coaster of emotions. This book is unbelievably relatable and not in the best way. Instead it’s a journey too many of us have taken when we were younger and thought we knew everything and could conquer all obstacles. Where love is seen through rose colored glasses and consequences be damned. We’ve all had a Stephen in our life or at the very least had a friend who did. And we’ve all been Lucy in one way or another. Tell Me Lies is like taking that walk of shame back through your college memories. There’s no sugar coating this story, it’s dirty, it’s raw, and it’s so very real. Once I started I couldn’t stop and when it was over, all I could think was “tell me more” there has to be “more” it can’t possibly be over.
In some ways Lucy and Stephen deserve each other. Both of them are shaped by a cataclysmic event in their childhood. An event that irreparably changes who they are. They may not realize why they’re drawn to each other in the beginning but it does become obvious as the years pass. Honestly, I guess lots of relationships are messy though especially when we’re young. The naivete of young love is really appealing. Lucy can’t get far enough away from home, and once gone she’s something changes within her. Looking for love, wanting to be seen, needing those assurances that’s she thin enough, pretty enough, loved enough. Lucy allows herself to be used, convinced it’s exactly what she needs, that it’s love. Through her despair she spirals out of control and loses grasp of not only reality but herself. This is Lucy’s story of redemption, climbing up from a place of darkness and learning to love herself.
I hated Stephen from the moment he appeared. He embodies so many of my exes. It made me super itchy while reading. My own embarrassment, my own regret came to the surface way too many times. He so selfish, self absorbed, entitled, and ugh he’s just gross. Yet I saw what Lucy saw. At least in my college years. I totally understood why she picked him. He was easy and smooth. He preyed on the emotionally weak and she was a perfect target. In many ways he was a typical college guy but as he gets older you begin to realize just how incredibly messed up he is. He’s never changing either. It’s at that point, you want so desperately for Lucy to stay away from him.
Interestingly as I was reading I found myself not really liking this story. Again, it made me uncomfortable at times, knowing I literally lived certain aspects of this life. But it was also hard to read about characters that were so damaged, so wrong for each other. The only happy ending I wanted was for both of them to stay far away from each other. Above all though, and this is where the author deserves many kudos, I found so much of this story relatable to me a 40 something female, and also to the youth of today. Her writing is relevant just as much today as it was for me 20+ years ago.
TELL ME LIES wasn’t anything like what I expected. It wasn’t like anything I’ve read before. Carola Lovering told a disturbing, twisted story about two people who should never have gotten together, yet for Lucy, she needed this relationship in order to find her way out of the darkness.
* I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader’s Copy of this book *