Two teens discover the true danger of love in this “beguiling” novel from Printz Honor–winning author Chris Lynch that will leave you “wondering just what is the truth” (VOYA, starred review).
Oliver loves Junie Blue. That’s true. Pretty much everything else is a lie. Both known for their deceit, Junie and O’s relationship was the only honest thing they had. But now that’s over. Oliver’s been dumped, and he’s miserable. Junie says they’re done. Unless she’s lying?
Junie’s father works for One Who Knows, the head of an organized crime family. He won’t tell O where Junie is, not even after O hears a rumor that Junie’s won the lottery—and that One Who Knows expects to be given her ticket. O fears Junie’s in danger, and he’s determined to come to her rescue. But is there honestly anything he can do?
If a relationship is based on “enthusiastic mendacity,” how do you know if it is getting better or getting worse? Lyin’ O’Brien, aka O or Oliver, finds himself in exactly that situation with his girl, Sweet Junie Blue Lies, when she drops him cold at the start of their post-graduation summer. Everyone else seems to be getting on with his or her lives, but O is paralyzed. College? Working with his dad? How can he care? Where is Junie and what is happening to her? As O sorts through his family and friend relationships—storming into Junie’s home to get punched out by her sleazy father and discovering that Junie’s big sister is fairly intriguing—he also (finally) “cottons on” to some facts about Junie, the way life operates in their city, and what his own father’s true nature is. Who rescues whom in this book? Who finds truth? The characters of O’s and Junie’s mothers explore facets of the mother-child and husband-wife relationship that can be useful for teens developing their independence. Reviewer: Elisabeth Greenberg; Ages 14 up.
School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up—Oliver and Junie's relationship thrives on lies. Together they are glib, sarcastic, and rarely serious, but they're in love. That is, they used to be, because Junie broke up with Oliver and now she's gone, possibly on the run from the local mob boss, the One Who Knows. Still desperately in love with her, Oliver wants to find and protect Junie, but how can he help someone who doesn't want to be found? This quirky novel from the Printz Honor-winning Lynch is charmingly clever and witty. Being wanted by the mob is not necessarily a light and fun premise for a novel, but Lynch uses this alarming situation to present a story about self-awareness and sacrifice. As a slightly unreliable narrator, Oliver is fine company. Although he is somewhat oblivious to his socioeconomic privilege and emotionally clueless, readers will root for him because of his devotion to saving Junie. She manages to evade him for almost half of the novel, but when they finally meet again, their biggest hurdle turns out not be the mob, but their opposing visions of the future. Lynch's staccato and ironic style is highly readable. Readers who aren't sure what they want to do with their life after high school will find that this book's light and honest approach to figuring it out rings true.—Joy Piedmont, LREI, New York City
starred review VOYA
* "Teens will appreciate the romance and humorous, sophisticated repartee between Oliver and Junie in a plot that will leave them wondering just what is the truth."
“This is a gritty mystery with breakneck pacing and characters and dialogue as smart and sharp as Lynch makes them. Expect fans to pass this title from hand to hand.”
VOYA, February 2014 (Vol. 36, No. 6)
- Hilary Crew
Did Junie Blue win the lottery? When she suddenly dumps Oliver after high school graduation and her family will not tell him where she is, Oliver is distraught because he—“Lyin’ O’Brien-,”—and Junie—“Sweet Junie Blue Lies”—although from different socioeconomic neighborhoods, have shared a special relationship in which they playfully lie to one another. Oliver is afraid for Junie because he has heard that winners are supposed to surrender their tickets to Juan, believed to be a shady business man controlling crime in Junie’s less-than-affluent neighborhood. Oliver rescues Junie from an abusive father who works for Juan and persuades her to stay with him in a luxurious hotel room. Junie, however, is fiercely independent and has her own agenda, while Oliver learns that things are not always what they seem—especially when he meets Juan. One strength of this beguiling novel is Lynch’s characters and their relationships, including an unconventional artist mother and a sweet-talking father who wants Oliver to join him in his successful financial business. But in a novel that celebrates individuality, Oliver also needs to be free. The text is distinguished by rich language and dialogue in episodes ranging from Junie’s delight in their incredible hotel bathroom to a tennis match in which Oliver’s friend Malcolm provides information for points. Teens will appreciate the romance and humorous, sophisticated repartee between Oliver and Junie in a plot that will leave them wondering just what is the truth. Reviewer: Hilary Crew; Ages 12 to 18.
A lovelorn teen messes with the mob in order to save his blue-collar girlfriend in this unusual comedy of social class. Upper-class Oliver is devastated when his beloved Junie Blue breaks off their relationship after high school graduation. But that doesn't stop him from trying to intervene when he hears that Junie may be in possession of a winning lottery ticket that is being sought by the local mob boss. Since their relationship was built on the outrageous lies they used to tell each other, Oliver can't figure out if Junie is telling the truth about not having the ticket. So he uses his family's wealth and power to hatch a plan to take the mob heat off Junie and, he hopes, win her back in the process. But self-sufficient Junie has plans of her own, and Oliver discovers that she's not the only one who's been lying to him. Though secondary characters that aren't integral to the story sometimes sidetrack the plot, Lynch's dialogue is consistently funny and sharp. Inventive descriptions--"The sun is just starting to work an orange cigarette burn through the gray fabric of the clouds"--set off the long riffs of humorous banter nicely. A worthwhile romp, if not quite a jackpot. (Fiction. 12 & up)
Chris Lynch is the Printz Honor Award–winning author of several highly acclaimed young adult novels, including Printz Honor Book Freewill, Iceman, Gypsy Davy, and Shadow Boxer—all ALA Best Books for Young Adults—as well as Killing Time in Crystal City, Little Blue Lies, Pieces, Kill Switch, Angry Young Man, and Inexcusable, which was a National Book Award finalist and the recipient of six starred reviews. He holds an MA from the writing program at Emerson College. He teaches in the Creative Writing MFA program at Lesley University. He lives in Boston and in Scotland.