“Good Girls Lie” by J. T. Ellison is the story of a teenage girl who wants to remake herself at a private school, “The Goode School. “ The present tense, first person narrative makes the action, immediate, personal, and compelling; readers are in the moment along with characters. Ellison establishes the school and its position within society immediately, and keeping secrets is part of what “those” schools do. There are both nasty as well as good girls at The Goode School, and the school itself has a dark past, a terrible tragic past.
The girls excel because that is what “Goode” girls do. Of course, they also lie to themselves and to others as a way to look important, to be included, to belong. The characters are compelling not because of what Ellison tells readers about them but because of what readers are not told and discover themselves.
The Narrator is mysterious, cunning, manipulative, and secretive. Readers emphasize with her because Ellison designed her in the first person present. Readers know what she says to people and what they say to her, what she thinks about people and what they do and say. However, to whom is she speaking – herself? The reader? Or someone else?
“There are truths, and there are lies, and then there is everything that really happened, which is where you and I will meet. My truth is your lie, and my lie is your truth, and there is a vast expanse between them.”
The book opens with a tragic scene, but narrator is unconcerned, unmoved. Chapters are labeled with dates, and the narrative alternates between different periods. Readers wonder how people got themselves into those very nonstandard situations, what influenced them, and more importantly, who is lying and about what. Hovering over all is that shocking first chapter. How does it fit into the whole picture?
“Good Girls Lie” is compelling because it is realistic and relatable. Ellison, herself, stated that she did not have to do a great deal of research for this book, and rather based much of her story her own experiences. Now that is a compelling mystery story. I received a copy of “Good Girls Lie” from J. T. Ellison and Harlequin – Mira Publishing. It is a rush of lies, lies, and more lies, and then the consequences…a spider waiting at the center of the web for the fly.