cover image Tell Me Lies

Tell Me Lies

Carola Lovering. Atria, $26 (352p) ISBN 978-1-5011-6964-9

Lovering’s winning debut chronicles the on-again, off-again relationship between beautiful Lucy Albright and the charismatic sociopath Stephen DeMarco. As a freshman at California’s Baird College in 2017, Lucy is depressed and still disturbed by the memory of glimpsing her mother having sex with a younger guy when she was 14. She keeps her knowledge of the incident a secret until she has a heart-to-heart with Stephen, a junior whose mother is bipolar. Lucy misinterprets Stephen’s reaction, thinking he cares for her, when, in reality, Stephen is a calculating, unempathetic person who has a history of cheating on his girlfriends. He views Lucy as his latest conquest. While alternating Stephen and Lucy’s points of view, Lovering does an excellent job of showing how Lucy’s depression drives her codependency. Stephen’s sections allow for a look at his remorseless Machiavellian sensibilities: unable to genuinely feel affection, he studies people in order to learn how to act normal and get what he wants. The story falters slightly when one too many coincidences pile up, but that doesn’t detract from this potent novel or its strong characters. [em](June) [/em]

Correction: An earlier version of this review misspelled the author's name.