Pub. Date:
LIE: A Novel

LIE: A Novel

by Caroline Bock


View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for delivery by Thursday, October 21


Everybody knows, nobody's talking. . . .

Seventeen-year-old Skylar Thompson is being questioned by the police. Her boyfriend, Jimmy, stands accused of brutally assaulting two young El Salvadoran immigrants from a neighboring town, and she's the prime witness. Skylar is keeping quiet about what she's seen, but how long can she keep it up?

But Jimmy was her savior. . . .

When her mother died, he was the only person who made her feel safe, protected from the world. But when she begins to appreciate the enormity of what has happened, especially when Carlos Cortez, one of the victims, steps up to demand justice, she starts to have second thoughts about protecting Jimmy. Jimmy's accomplice, Sean, is facing his own moral quandary. He's out on bail and has been offered a plea in exchange for testifying against Jimmy.

The truth must be told. . . .

Sean must decide whether or not to turn on his friend in order to save himself. But most important, both he and Skylar need to figure out why they would follow someone like Jimmy in the first place.

Related collections and offers

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312668327
Publisher: St. Martin's Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/30/2011
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.70(d)
Lexile: HL610L (what's this?)
Age Range: 12 - 18 Years

About the Author

Prior to focusing on her writing, Caroline Bock headed the marketing and public relations departments at Bravo and IFC cable networks. She is a graduate of Syracuse University, where she studied creative writing with Raymond Carver, and The City College of New York, where she earned a MFA in fiction. She lives in New York on Long Island.

Read an Excerpt


By Caroline Bock

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2011 Caroline Bock
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-8441-6


Skylar Thompson

I should be in calculus, reviewing for the final, not at the police station. Or I should be in the school parking lot, deciding on whether to cut class and go to the beach with the other seniors. Or at the diner with Lisa Marie. Or even home. I should be anywhere but here.

"Let me tell you about Jimmy," I answer Officer Healey. "Jimmy stands up for his friends, keeps his word, and is the star of the varsity football and baseball teams. He couldn't have planned to hurt any Mexicans. Especially brothers. Jimmy has a little brother." I've been here for over an hour, being asked about Jimmy, about last Saturday night. I sit up straighter. "And it's important for you to know that I've never called anyone a 'beaner,' and I've never heard Jimmy use that word either."

Officer Healey hunches over, slashes down notes, not disagreeing or agreeing. He has sprigs of red hair, watery eyes, and he winces as if thinking hard. He could be any of my friends' dads, a coach of soccer or Little League, a worrier, a sideline pacer.

"No one at school ever talked about going out and jumping Hispanics or other foreign nationals just for fun? No one used the term 'beaner-hopping'? No one said anything like that in school?"

I shift toward the edge of the metal chair to keep my balance. I wish I were taller. I run my hands through my hair. I should have brushed it back, worn something other than black, practiced smiling like Lisa Marie suggested.

"Anything more you want to tell me? Better to do it now, Miss Thompson."

He clears his throat.

"One more question. Was Jimmy Seeger the mastermind?"

My father shifts next to me. He's a big man and they've given him a wobbly chair. "Lookit, my daughter isn't a liar."

"Dad —"

"I'm just telling the officer you have nothing more to say."

Officer Healey stands as we stand. My father's chair crashes to the floor and breaks apart; he folds the pieces on top of the table like a broken body.

"Just so you know, the victim, Arturo Cortez, is in bad shape. He's in the ICU. If he dies, we charge your boyfriend with murder. As an adult. He's eighteen. One more time, is there anything you want to add?"

"What about the other brother I read about?"

"The younger brother, one Carlos Cortez, had minor injuries. He's the one that got their license plate. Bright kid. He's been released from the hospital."

"Lookit, if we're finished, we're finished," says my father, avoiding eye contact with either the police officer or me.

I hesitate. I have one more thing to ask. "When can I see Jimmy?"

"You're not," answers my father.

"His family's got to post bond," responds Officer Healey. "If not, the county jail allows twice-weekly one-hour visits. That's for nonattorneys."

"Two visits a week?"

"This isn't summer camp," says Officer Healey, squinting hard. "To visit, you got to be eighteen years old, with a valid ID, or be accompanied by an adult."

"Forgetaboutit," says my father. "The whole thing. Forget about it. Let's go."

"My birthday is this week, or should we 'forgetaboutit' too?"

He studies his scuffed-up work shoes.

"Any more questions?" asks the police officer hoarsely.

I will myself to say nothing. I have a million more questions racing through my head but I only shake my head. This was the plan. Everybody knows. Nobody's talking.

The officer follows us out to the main entrance. "If there's anything else you can think of, please give me a call. We appreciate your cooperation."

My father slips the card into his EMT uniform.

I know I will have nothing more to say.

From the top of the steps, Officer Healey watches us drive away. I ease my mother's car, a red Mustang, my car, through the choked police parking lot. Mastermind is racing through my head. Jimmy isn't that smart. I mean, he is smart — he was a Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

I drive slower than usual.

I don't know how it happened, last Saturday night. It wasn't supposed to happen. But all I have to do is say nothing and it will be Jimmy and me in the Mustang going east, going out to Montauk as planned. Say nothing; he'll be back.

My eyes lock in front of me. I estimate thirty, twenty, ten feet to go, and I'm free, except I'm going the wrong way.

"Make a right here," instructs my father. "A right. Your other right."

I make a sharp right to the exit of the police parking lot.

My father then starts in about food. Going to lunch at the diner. Burgers and oversized onion rings. A vanilla milkshake, he ventures. Since it's Monday he doesn't have to be at work until four p.m. His insistence surprises me. We haven't been out to eat since my mother died. I shake my head at the diner suggestion. I want to get back to school and find Lisa Marie and tell her exactly what I said. Our hope is that Jimmy and Sean will be out on bail sooner than later. They were arrested on Sunday. Twenty-four hours without Jimmy is about as much as I can bear.

"You okay?" my father asks, not really wanting an answer.

So I answer him with a question. "You know I was there, Saturday night?"

"I don't want to know." He sighs. Adds to the space between us. "I don't need to know."

I jump the Mustang into traffic.

Sean Mayer

Jimmy's best friend

Are you okay? I ask myself for the hundredth time since being arrested.

Yes, I lie.

I have never been so alone as I am here, in a cell, with eight other guys. It's the right number for a baseball team. It even smells like feet and sweat and urine, like a locker room. But nobody's swinging a bat in here.

The cops separated Jimmy and me because he's eighteen. His last words were, "Stay strong."

Stay strong, and breathe. Breathe.

I can't. I'm afraid to shut my eyes on this bunk. I never liked closed-in places, tree houses, backs of buses. I like playing the outfield, center field. Fields of green grass.

I rattle out of the bunk in a cold sweat. Everybody is rumbling, roaring, running at the mouth, and it's about me, pitched at my back. How I'm scared. How I'm a boy. How I'm white. I have no issue with them, especially eight-on-one. I pretend they're the opposing team, testing me. I block out their noise like I always did. I clutch the metal bars. Somewhere cells are banged open or slammed shut, and the reverb drills into my hands and shoulders.

Breathe. Breathe. Remember the visualization exercises. The first time, last August, the football team all tumbled onto the gym mats after an endless practice in the sun. We were missing Richie Alan, who was supposed to be the quarterback, and who was my former best friend. His father had lost his job. They had to sell their house and leave for his grandmother's apartment somewhere in Queens, which might as well mean they moved off-planet.

We jokingly sat cross-legged and closed our eyes. When the coach asked us to "mentally rehearse," I cracked everyone up by saying, "I know what I'm mentally rehearsing." All I was really thinking was that I wanted to play ball, not think of the ball.

Then Jimmy spoke up. He said that he knew that we sucked last year. That if we really wanted to win, we should be open to trying this. Everyone looked at everyone else. We couldn't believe that Jimmy, the new guy, was saying this. But that was Jimmy, I'd learn.

"Let me try to get the guys through this. Coach?" The two new guys sized each other up, Jimmy and Coach Martinez. Jimmy had a way of standing with his shoulders back and hands clasped in front of him that I was already working on imitating. He was as tall as the coach, six-three or six-four. He could stand awesomely still. He did that with the coach. "I only want to help," he said to the coach. "I only want to win." Jimmy didn't even blink. After that practice, I stood in front of the mirror at home and practiced standing still and not blinking.

The coach saluted him, a mock salute, a go-ahead-you-try salute. We were all quiet, had stopped twisting in our gym shorts, picking at our zits. Eyes followed Jimmy.

"Listen up. We're going to breathe like the coach said," Jimmy shouted. "Breathe. Breathe." And we did. Until our breaths, heaves of air, were in sync with his, until we could see, like him, that winning was a possibility this season.

Now there are no images in my head except one. Of him. Arturo Cortez.

Breathe. Breathe.

What were you thinking of, Sean? What did you think you were doing? What did you imagine would happen, Sean? My father couldn't understand and I didn't help him out this time. I was covering Jimmy. I was running his plays. I wasn't thinking.

I press up against the bars like I'm in the weight room. Groan with the effort of lifting what can't be lifted. What happens in jail if you stop breathing?

Lisa Marie Murano

Skylar's best friend

"Listen up, I don't have a lot of time. You trust me?"


"And, Lisa Marie?"

"Jimmy?" I murmur, even though I could easily scream out loud, announce to the world, that Jimmy is calling me from jail. I'm parked at the back of the diner lot. The Camaro is running; the air blasts. Even so, I can still smell the stink of fish from the diner's kitchen. When something smells that bad you can't escape. Feral black and white cats dash in front of my bumper as if crazed by possibilities.

"We don't have long to talk and I need you to —"

The time glows in the dark. At nine p.m., I'm supposed to meet Skylar at our other diner. It's almost nine. I don't mention this to Jimmy. Don't get me wrong. I don't mean for this to be a "lie of omission," as my father would say, which only means you know something and don't say it. I just don't want to make Jimmy feel bad that he isn't meeting up with us like always.

Yet, I have to ask, "Have you called Skylar too?"

"I'll call Skylar as soon as I can. Will you tell her?"

I'm mesmerized by the cats prowling, hunting down something.

"Are you there, Lisa Marie? I feel like everyone is falling away —"

"I'm here, Jimmy. I'm focused. I am."

A cat yowls.

"Good. I need you to be. You know Skylar can't handle this. I'm afraid. For her. She could do or say anything. Listen up, I need you to keep everyone together, especially her. Make sure everybody knows —"

"Everybody knows, nobody's talking," I whisper into my cell phone even though I'm alone. "That's our mantra."

"Our what?"


"Our what?"

"Our cheer or call-out, though of course we're not saying this in the school halls. Mantra —" My chest tightens. I want his approval more than I've ever wanted anyone's in my life, and don't get me wrong, I'm not usually looking for anybody's approval.

Silence. I'm not sure what's wrong. He releases one of his deep, rolling laughs, and I breathe. "Speak English, L.M. That's the problem. Nobody speaks English anymore." He practically shouts this into the phone as if he's making sure others hear it. I focus on the "L.M." Only Jimmy calls me L.M. He gave me that nickname like a present, and already I miss it.

"Everybody knows, nobody's talking," I repeat firmly. I must keep everyone on the same page. We must hang together. It was a terrible mistake, what happened. It was supposed to be all in fun. I don't know what went wrong last Saturday night, none of us really do. But it can't be entirely Jimmy and Sean's fault. Jimmy can't be guilty of — he's not. Neither is Sean. They don't deserve this. They're my friends. That's what I keep telling myself.

Two cats track another cat. They dart across the parking lot, hissing at this third-scrawniest cat, one with yellow eyes.

"Lisa Marie, have you talked with your dad? Will he help me?"

"I haven't. But I will."

I wet my lips, dig for my lip gloss. Not for the first time, I think how different this past year would have been if Jimmy had met me without Skylar. Don't get me wrong, I am totally happy that Skylar has Jimmy. He's been there for her when she really needed someone.

"Lisa Marie?"

I jump in my skin. I'm here for him. He needs to know that I will always be there for him, no matter what, no matter if Skylar — No, I can't think of that. Skylar is going to remain true. I'm going to see to that.

"L.M?" he shouts into the phone. He wants me. He needs me. This isn't the first time, but I'm not going to think of that now. I'm going to stay focused.

"Jimmy —"

Right in front of my car, two cats pounce on that scrawny, yellow-eyed one for no reason I can see. This isn't fair, I think, honking my horn, sending them all careening into corners.

"Jimmy," I say, my heart pounding. "I'm here for you."

Skylar Thompson

The diner. Not the one that smells like fish. But the King's Diner near the expressway, the L.I.E., with the neon and art deco booths and tabletop jukeboxes. That's our diner. Lisa Marie said to meet at the diner tonight. We didn't want to talk at school. No one is talking there. I'm here exactly on time. Nine p.m. I hate being late. That's the one way I'm like my father.

When Lisa Marie rushes in, forty-five minutes late, she slides into the booth next to me. Her embrace is fierce. I was waiting for that hug. She has news from her father, a lawyer. That's why she's late.

"Jimmy and Sean have been charged. With assault," says Lisa Marie, breathless. "Sean's parents are of course making bail tomorrow. I'm sorry."

My throat is dry. I need a glass of water. The diner is deserted of help. It's so late the King's Diner smells of cleaning supplies, of coffee grounds, of waitresses with cigarette smoke and perfume stuck in their hair — and I don't know what else. Maybe it'll rain tonight. My mother used to love a spring rain. This bountiful rain, she'd say, would help the flowers grow. Make the grass smell green, as if green were a smell.

It takes a moment for what Lisa Marie said to sink in. Sean's parents are making bail. Jimmy's are not.

"You sat up straight and looked them right in the eye, Skylar?"

Count the cars, speeding into the mist. Watch the windows fog with a breath. Jimmy, he loves the ocean in the rain. Nobody was on the beach when we drove out to Montauk that time in the torrential end-of-summer rain. Nobody except us. He said he wanted to kiss me for the first time where the air was the purest. He smelled like sea salt for a week afterward. So did I. Now I can't look at Lisa Marie.

"Skylar. You have to trust me."

"You know a lot of the diners are closing on Long Island. We used to have a half a dozen here. Jimmy says nothing is like it used to be. My father and mother always liked this diner the best; we ate here most Saturday nights. Maybe we should listen to some music? Remember how we cut school on Jimmy's birthday and banged in here ordering rounds of milkshakes? Last month. May first?"

Pink nails drill on the top of the fake red leather booth. When did Lisa Marie have time to get a manicure, or to put on makeup, or to buy what looks like a new pink sleeveless turtleneck, her arms sculpted from a winter of dedicated workouts?

I chew on my lips.

"Skylar. Focus. Jimmy is in the county jail and we don't know for how long. That doesn't seem fair at all. What did you say to the police? We all have to be saying the same thing. We have to trust one another to do this."

Don't trust me. Feel my pulse. Can't you tell my heart is breaking?

"Take your order, hon?" I recognize our waitress. She lives around the corner, is divorced, with two kids, grown up, must be in their twenties, living with her. Her hair is an unnatural yellow, her eyebrows overplucked and drawn back in. Her front teeth overlap. The smell of fried food swirls around her. Maybe she was cute in her day. Maybe she had her Jimmy and something went horribly wrong.

I'm staring. I know. I'm impolite. She shoots me a bitter smile. She knows me too.

"Sure," I say, pretending to study the oversized menu.

"Jimmy Seeger is a nice boy," she says. Her voice is wracked by cigarettes. "I know his mother. Works at Family Pharmacy. Goes to our church. Maybe nothing happened. Maybe it wasn't his fault. Self-defense. We're being overrun. I give them boys a lot of credit for doing something about it. No one else will." She hacks, doubles over, before straightening up and smiling at us. "What can I get you, girls?"

I order eggs over easy, whole wheat toast. A vanilla milkshake. My diner standard. On top of everything, I'm going to get fat.

"Why hasn't Jimmy called me yet?"

Lisa Marie grasps each of my hands in her own. "He will."

"I need to hear his voice." It hurts, physically hurts, in the pit of my stomach, to say how much.

"I know. He'll call as soon as he can, I'm sure."

I squeeze her hands back. We hold on to one another until the eggs arrive smelling like eggs and grease. I can't eat.

"What did you say, Skylar? To the police?"

It was all a mistake. If he had known that they were brothers this never would have happened. A mistake. But I didn't say that.

My father said that the one in the hospital would most likely be out of there before Jimmy is out on bail. Those people, he said, are used to much more physical activity than any of us. They need to get back to work, so they rebound quicker. A few punches from some high school kids are not going to kill someone like that, he added. A few punches.


Excerpted from Lie by Caroline Bock. Copyright © 2011 Caroline Bock. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Title Page,
Skylar Thompson,
Sean Mayer,
Lisa Marie Murano,
Skylar Thompson,
Lisa Marie Murano,
Tommy Thompson,
Skylar Thompson,
Sean Mayer,
Skylar Thompson,
Skylar Thompson,
Gloria Cortez,
Skylar Thompson,
Carlos Cortez,
Skylar Thompson,
Sean Mayer,
Coach Martinez,
Gloria Cortez,
Police Officer Healey,
Skylar Thompson,
Skylar Thompson,
Carlos Cortez,
Lisa Marie Murano,
Skylar Thompson,
Tommy Thompson,
Lisa Marie Murano,
Tommy Thompson,
James Seeger, Sr.,
Skylar Thompson,
Sean Mayer,
Skylar Thompson,
Coach Martinez,
Skylar Thompson,
Skylar Thompson,
Skylar Thompson,
Skylar Thompson,
Tommy Thompson,
Author's Note,
Reading Group Guide,

Reading Group Guide

Inspired by real events, LIE is a gripping and powerful novel about teens and a hate crime. LIE is also story about choices, about peer and community pressure, about bullying and stereotypes in our society, about making the decisions to lie–or tell the truth–and the consequences.

Everybody knows, nobody's talking . . .

Seventeen-year-old Skylar Thompson is being questioned by the police. Her boyfriend, Jimmy, stands accused of brutally assaulting two brothers of El Salvadoran descent from a neighboring town, and she's the prime witness. Skylar is keeping quiet about what she's seen, but how long can she keep it up?

But Jimmy was her savior . . .

When her mother died, he was the only person who made her feel safe, protected from the world. But when she begins to appreciate the enormity of what has happened, especially when Carlos Cortez, one of the victims, steps up to demand justice, she starts to have second thoughts about protecting Jimmy. Jimmy's accomplice, Sean, is facing his own moral quandary. He's out on bail and has been offered a plea in exchange for testifying against Jimmy.

The truth must be told . . .

Sean must decide whether or not to turn on his friend in order to save himself. But most important, both he and Skylar need to figure out why they would follow someone like Jimmy in the first place.

1) Outline on board and have students follow along with their graphic organizer to create a list of all the characters in LIE.

2) Outline the ten characters each with first person accounts in LIE. (Skylar Thompson, Sean Mayer, Lisa Marie Murano, Tommy Thompson, Principal (Plotinsky), Officer Healey, Gloria Cortez, Carlos Cortez, Coach Martinez, James Seeger, Sr.)

1. Why do you think she choices to write them all in first person? What effect does that have on the reader? Now, taking a step back, probe the students on what is the major question posed in the book to all of the characters? What choices and actions are these ‘first person' characters faced with? In doing so the major problems of each character (their internal and external conflicts) should be discussed in broad terms (see homework assignment).

2. Special Note: You may want to take particular time with the character of Sean Mayer. He makes a drastic and dramatic decision toward the end of the novel (Spoiler Alert: he hangs himself after grappling with decision to tell truth about the hate crime or not). Discuss why suicide is not ever an answer to life's dilemmas (his father and Skylar are devastated). Though, his action does influence another. How does his action influence others? Ultimately, it does propel Skylar Thompson toward her decision and action (to come forward in the very last scene of the novel).

3) Key Thematic Point: What essential characters are not included in first person accounts? There are two essential characters, but only seen through the eyes of the other characters: Jimmy Seeger and Arturo Cortez.

1. Why does the writer choose not to give these two characters their own first person accounts? First, Jimmy? [Note: Author's Insight: I chose not to include Jimmy Seeger as a first person character because he has already made his choice. He choose to be a bully and a hater, and in many ways it is now up to others to decide his fate. In addition, I was more interested in the effect of his actions on others, why do people like Skylar, Sean, and Lisa Marie choose to follow him? What are the consequences?]

2. Why does the writer choose not to give Arturo Cortez his own first person account? [Note: Author's Insight: I felt it was more powerful to see the incident through the eyes of his brother, Carlos Cortez, who is an American citizen, but witnesses what happens to his brother, Arturo Cortez, who is undocumented. The irony inherent in this hate crime is that Jimmy Seeger and Sean Mayer do not know which brother is in the United States with legal documentation and which one is. They are making assumptions on racist stereotypes. In the end, vigilante justice, where one takes justice into one's own hands, is wrong. Admittedly, while the conversation could continue towards one about immigration policies in the United States, the intention of the author was to explore the idea of community and peer pressure. How do we make our own choices in life in light of overwhelming pressure to follow what our parents, peers, and community often thinks, even when we understand, or come to understand as Skylar does, that we no longer agree with what everybody thinks?]

3. Do you agree or don't agree with the writer's decision to not include Jimmy Seeger or Arturo Cortez as first person characters?

4. Discuss the setting of the novel. What is the name of the town? (Trick question: the town, a middle class suburban town on Long Island in New York is never named). Why do you think the town is never named? What are the other key settings? When does the action takes place? The timing is present day,
with the action taking place over a week, from a Monday morning after a hate crime has taken place on a Saturday night to the following Monday morning). How does the setting help define the characters?

Customer Reviews