Contemporary Young Adult
Received through Teen Book Scene for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)Quinn’s done the unthinkable: she kissed a guy who is not Carey, her boyfriend. And she got caught. Being branded a cheater would be bad enough, but Quinn is deemed a traitor, and shunned by all of her friends. Because Carey’s not just any guy—he’s serving in Afghanistan and revered by everyone in their small, military town.
Quinn could clear her name, but that would mean revealing secrets that she’s vowed to keep—secrets that aren’t hers to share. And when Carey goes MIA, Quinn must decide how far she’ll go to protect her boyfriend…and her promise.
MY THOUGHTSIf I Lie is a stunning story, heating our blood and squeezing our hearts as we watch our young heroine bear the brunt of a community’s anger and disappointment while she remains bound and gagged by her unwavering loyalty to best friend and boyfriend Carey. Quinn’s isolation and status as a traitor affects us from page one, each confrontation with her family and former friends thinning our skin until we feel as fragile as the paper on which Quinn’s story is depicted; until every verbal jab and every look of loathing seems to tear a piece of us from the whole, letting it flutter to our feet where it’s joined shortly by the tattered remnants of our hearts. Ms. Jackson spares us nothing, brutally showing us how easily people don blinders when it suits them, and how quickly they allow themselves to look at a situation without ever really seeing it.
Quinn is a remarkable young woman, wearing a scarlet letter she doesn’t deserve with as much grace as she can muster, and while she strains against the invisible hand Carey has so cruelly placed over her mouth, she never once tries to remove it to spare herself anymore pain. While both Carey and his best friend Blake are revered and praised for their separate loyalties—Carey’s to God and country, and Blake's to Carey’s family in their time of need—it’s Quinn’s loyalty that outshines them all, and while she certainly isn’t free of blame for the situation all three find themselves in, she is the only one to own the fallout and condemnation, left on her own to cover and shield two people who prove repeatedly to be uninterested in returning the favor.
It would be easy to argue that Quinn had little choice in bearing the substantial weight of her traitor’s cross, physical evidence of her “betrayal” of Carey publicly flouted and completely indisputable to give her nothing to deny, however, she is presented with the opportunity again and again to share her burden by giving voice to Carey and Blake’s secrets yet she remains admirably silent. She recognizes her role in the events leading up to her current ostracization, never wallowing in self-pity because she knows that every finger she points at either Carey or Blake could be turned and pointed right back at her, and while her treatment at the hands of those who’ve known her her entire life is despicable, Quinn brings a wobbly smile to our faces as she stands strong against the onslaught.
Heartbreaking and beautiful, If I Lie creates in us a tangled mess of conflicting emotions as we attempt to sort through the splintered remains of what seemed months ago to be the perfect life. Though Quinn is the one issued the gag order disguised as a plea from a desperate and hurting friend, we feel its effects just as strongly, longing to open our mouths and spill the truth of Carey, Blake, and Quinn to anyone and everyone who will listen as though speaking it aloud in our reality will somehow provide her relief in hers. While we desperately want to hate Carey for what he’s inadvertently forced Quinn to endure, Ms. Jackson crafts all her characters in such away that our anger fades in the face of the individual pain each of them faces, and we read eyes wet with tears as we wonder if, after everything that’s happened, the truth is even capable of releasing any of them their secret-lined bindings.