cover image The Best Liars in Riverview

The Best Liars in Riverview

Lin Thompson. Little, Brown, $16.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-316-27672-6

After a miserable sixth-grade year, white Kentuckian Aubrey feels most comfortable in the woods, playing the Running-Away Game with their best friend Joel, who’s biracial (Black/white) and “the same kind of weird” as Aubrey—interested in make-believe and the natural world. When Joel disappears one night, having experienced regular bullying at school, Aubrey has an idea about what happened to him but doesn’t tell anyone, even the police and Joel’s distraught parents, whom Aubrey says don’t “deserve to know the parts of the story I’m leaving out.” Secretly, Aubrey—accompanied by two trusted companions, schoolmate Mari and older sister Teagan—sets out on a trek into the woods to find Joel. In a sensitively written first novel, Thompson addresses issues of gender identity, privilege, and prejudice through a candid first-person narrative, filled with flashbacks and ruminations, that offers a window into Aubrey’s and Joel’s evolving relationship and internal conflicts. Set in a conservative, predominantly white Catholic town in which the community doesn’t always warmly receive those it considers outliers, this heartfelt story shows rather than tells how friendship can lead to understanding. Ages 8–12. Agent: Beth Phelan, Gallt & Zacker. (Mar.)