Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart

Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart

Overall Rating: 3.75/5

Quality of Prose: 3.5/5

Quality of Story: 4/5

Quality of Characters: 4/5

Ability to Make the Audience Think/Feel Differently: 3.5/5

How Long It Took Me to Finish: 3 days

A 1 Sentence Summary

When found by a detective on a resort in Mexico, Jule’s (possible spy/possible super hero/possible murderer) story unfolds in reverse chronological order and her many secrets are revealed.

My Favorite Quotes

β€œTo be a physically powerful woman–it was something. You could go anywhere, do anything, if you were difficult to hurt.”

“‘Shut up, little girl, you’ve said enough.’ ‘Stop, little girl, don’t hit, use your words’–and shut up at the same time. They squash you. They want you to be small and silent. Good was just another word for don’t fight back.”

“‘The important thing is this: to be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.’ –Charles Do Bos”

What I Loved About It

If you read my review of Lockhart’s other mystery/suspense/thriller We Were Liars, you’d know I was really really impressed by Lockhart’s prose and her GIGANTIC twists in that novel. Because of that, I was really really looking forward to reading Lockhart’s newest novel. I was ready for another twist, and I must say this book definitely delivered. The twist in this one is crazy and, while not completely unexpected, definitely blew me away.

Lockhart’s prose in this novel isn’t quite as impressive as that in We Were Liars, but it’s still really good and she has a really really unique talent in creating a protagonist who is, for all intents and purposes, (SPOILER ALERT) an evil, identity-less murderer and yet who the audience really sympathizes with.

The fact that the story is told in reverse chronological order is another testament to E. Lockhart’s literary genius and really makes the story a lot more suspenseful and intriguing. I can’t even imagine how hard it was to write a novel like that. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: E. Lockhart. Is. The. Bomb.

I really did enjoy reading this book. However, I found myself being fairly confused when the book ended (which, to be fair, was probably Lockhart’s intent). The book ends rather abruptly and left me questioning A LOT of what happened throughout the book. To be fair, I could definitely see the structure and narrative of this novel being too confusing for many of my lower level readers and just complex enough for my more advanced readers.

What My Students Could Learn From It

The unique structure of the book would be great for teaching text structure and how a text’s structure affects the narrative itself. It’d also be a great book for teaching about the unreliability of narrators. Jule, the protagonist (IF THAT’S EVEN HER REAL NAME), is, after all, not the most trustworthy source for information and even by the end of the book, many of the mysterious details of her life and character are still not revealed or clarified.

The book also has a lot to say about gender roles and expectations , as well as identity, and could foster a really interesting conversation amongst students about those things.

And of course the violent, murder-y bits of the story would provide plenty of intrigue for the kids. They eat that stuff up.

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One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Overall Rating: 4/5

Quality of Prose: 2.5/5

Quality of Story: 4/5

Quality of Characters: 4.5/5

Ability to Make the Audience Think/Feel Differently: 4/5

How Long It Took Me to Finish: 3 days

A 1 Sentence Summary

When Simon Kelleher, the writer of the school gossip blog, dies in detention, the other four students who were with him–all of which have secrets to protect–are the prime suspects.

My Favorite Quotes

β€œ’The first seven years of the Joshua tree’s life, it’s just a vertical stem. No branches,’ she told me while we were hiking. ‘It takes years before it blossoms. And every branching stem stops growing after it blossoms, so you’ve got this complex system of dead areas and new growth.’ I used to think about that, sometimes, when I wondered what parts of her might still be alive.”

one of us is lying

What I Loved About It

I have to be honest, I have never gotten into murder mystery, suspense/thrillers. I typically stay away from genre fiction as a whole. I don’t read much sci-fi, I don’t read romance, I don’t read mysteries. But I heard from a friend that this book was great, and I wanted to try something new. And I was definitely not disappointed. I really enjoyed reading this book.

McManus is great at keeping her readers engaged. Each character has multiple secrets that are revealed throughout the novel at exactly the right moments to change your view on who killed Simon and to keep you reading. For this reason, it was hard to put this book down. She handles the suspense, the romance, and the character development (all four of the main characters really grow throughout the novel and that’s rare for a mystery novel with four protagonists.) really really well.

Though this book didn’t make me super emotional or stay with me for days after finishing or blow my mind, it was a fun read and it had more depth than I’d expect of a YA mystery/thriller. And I think my kids would really, really like it.

What My Students Could Learn From It

This book reminds me a lot of Thirteen Reasons Why because of its likability but also because of the clear cut lessons it teaches teens.

There are clear morals to be learned when reading One of Us Is Lying. Don’t make judgments about people. Don’t define yourself by the relationships you’re in. Be kind to people because you never know what they’re going through and how the things you say or do might affect them. Be honest with the world about who you are. Don’t cheat. Don’t gossip. Don’t lie. Don’t sell drugs. Though I typically prefer books with more ambiguity and depth, I definitely see the draw of a book like this as a teacher.

And like I said, my kids–and yours–would absolutely love One of Us Is Lying.