The Lies They Tell

The Lies They Tell

by Gillian French


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With shades of E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars and Courtney Summers’s Sadie, this dark and twisted mystery set in a divided Maine seaside town simmers with unresolved tensions and unpredictable truths.  

Everyone in Tenney’s Harbor knows about the Garrison tragedy. How an unexplained fire ravaged their house, killing four of the five family members. But what people don’t know is who did it.

All fingers point at Pearl Haskins’ father, who was the caretaker of the property, but Pearl just doesn’t believe it. Leave it to a town of rich people to blame “the help.”

With her disgraced father now trying to find work in between booze benders, Pearl’s future doesn’t hold much more than waiting tables at the local country club, where the wealthy come to flaunt their money and spread their gossip. This year, Tristan, the last surviving Garrison, and his group of affluent and arrogant friends have made a point of sitting in Pearl’s section. Though she’s repulsed by most of them, Tristan’s quiet sadness and somber demeanor have her rethinking her judgments.

Befriending the boys could mean getting closer to the truth, clearing her father’s name, and giving Tristan the closure he seems to be searching for. But it could also trap Pearl in a sinister web of secrets, lies, and betrayals that would leave no life unchanged…if it doesn’t take hers first.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062642585
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 05/01/2018
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 491,369
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

Gillian French’s short fiction has appeared in various publications and anthologies. She has ranked in several writing competitions, such as Zoetrope: All-Story and the Writer’s Digest Writing Competition. In addition to Grit, she has also written the YA novel The Door to January. She holds a BA in English from the University of Maine and lives in rural Maine with her husband and sons. To learn more about Gillian, visit her online at

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The Lies They Tell 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
ruthsic More than 1 year ago
While this is first and foremost a mystery novel, I feel the strength of the story was in the characterization and not the mystery of it. When Pearl infiltrates the group of the summer kids, she does so with the intention of finding out what really happened that unfortunate night when her father was blamed for not preventing the arson and murder of Garrisons. Most of the book goes into the class divide and how the rich kids look down on the townies, how she derides their indulgences and their facades. But Tristan has a quiet intensity to him that draws her, even as she is repelled by his uncaring and manipulative nature, and as she peels one layer after another of these kids and their lives, she learns a little more about what could have led to that tragedy. The author takes care to construct each character, building them into three-dimensional people with secrets of their own, their personal issues that subtly affect the plot of the novel. I loved that aspect of this book a lot. As a mystery, though, it is pretty frustrating - much of the clues and reveals happen in the second half of the book, and the payout is not as much as it is building up to. There is perhaps only a couple of scenes that evoke a 'thriller' like vibe, the danger that you associate with the genre. Overall, it is a decent book but if you are looking for a good mystery, you might be disappointed.
demetra brodsky More than 1 year ago
THE LIES THEY TELL is a brilliantly written suspense thriller with believable young adult characters. Pearl is trying to navigate the world of the summer kids that come to her small Maine town. She is both enthralled and repulsed by their behavior and privilege as she unravels the truth about the Garrison family fire that implicated her father, a property caretaker, and put dampers on life and livelihood. Sometimes, to learn the truth, you have to infiltrate the parties and involved and get inside, and that's exactly what Pearl does French had me on edge, obsessed with finishing this book, until the very end where we learn the truth about that fateful night. And like all great suspense novels, this one doles out the clues and pieces little by little until everything falls into place. I'm excited to read her previous works and whatever comes next.
AReadingRedSox More than 1 year ago
I’m officially adding Gillian French to my favorite authors list. I was a huge fan of her first novel, GRIT, and THE LIES THEY TELL was just as good. I love her writing style, and the way she lets stories unfold. This one had me guessing until the very end, and I loved every heart-pounding moment.
Falln2books More than 1 year ago
Let me start off this review by saying that the biggest lies and betrayals that are associated with this book are in the synopsis. I was so excited to dig into this novel, expecting so many twists and turns that I could hardly keep up. What I got was a boring and clunky narrative that read more like a Laguna Beach rerun than a thriller or mystery. There are plot holes bigger than the mansion the novel talks about, and there are no twists or turns to keep the reader interested. The only reason I kept reading was because I was waiting on something huge to happen and blow my mind. Nothing happened that I couldn't see coming a mile away, and needless to say I was disappointed. I want those hours of my life back. Pearl is probably the most boring character I've ever read. She's super one-dimensional, and even though she claimed to have emotions, the emotions didn't actually come across. I couldn't feel anything. I didn't connect to her at all; I had no empathy or sympathy for her. I really didn't care what happened to her because she was so dull. Her best friend is a jerk, and she is a doormat for him. Yet he's somehow painted as some good guy/hero, and I don't understand that. Reese isn't someone worth wasting time on. Her Dad isn't a real character... he is more a caricature of a drunk, and again there is no emotion from him, really. Tristan acts like a narcissistic zombie, Bridges acts like a lap dog with no mind of his own, and Akil is an even bigger jerk than Reese, somehow. The other filler characters are just as dull, and I can't even remember their names. The plot makes little sense, and the pace is super slow. Nothing really happens, either. It just reads like some teen reality show. Characters overreact about strange things, but the emotions feel false. The writing is clunky at best. The third person limited narrative for this type of story is actually jarring at times and removes you from the dull tale. It is obvious who the guilty party is from the beginning... so obvious that I thought the guilty party couldn't be who it obviously is. The guilty part is who it obviously is, though. There is not a single twist or turn in this book. The ending also makes no sense. There should have been some fallout from Pearl's actions, but there is nothing. They throw some circumstantial evidence around, and boom everything is perfect. Nothing is actually explained. There is no surprise with anything, and the unrealistic ending was just the final straw for me. If you can't tell, I'm irritated that I spent hours of my life reading this book. I just kept hanging on to the false hope that something exciting would happen. I feel deceived by the synopsis, and I hate plot holes and endings that don't even make sense. If you're looking for an intriguing and thrilling summer mystery, do yourself a favor and look elsewhere. This is the worst book I've read in a long time.
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
Pearl’s father says he wasn’t drinking the night the house burned down, he says he was doing his job, it was just a typical night but, on his watch, the Garrison property went up in flames. Surprisingly, there were no leads in this case so everyone pointed their finger at her father. There was one lone survivor, a boy named Tristan, who now lives inside his own little world. Pearl wants to get to the bottom of what happened the night of the fire and it seems the only way to do that is to befriend Tristan. Pearl believes her father when he says that he was not under the influence the night of the fire. Since that night, her father finds refuge at the local tavern or at home, with a bottle in his hand. The town that he once called home has now turned their back on him. I felt that Tristan had an air about him which I found annoying but Pearl had other objectives and she worked her way into his circle. She needed the truth to get her own family back on track. This novel wasn’t the thriller that I thought it would be but it was enticing. There were times in the novel though where things slowed down but later they did pick back up. The more I read, the more “I” wanted to know the truth behind that night as something felt out of place. Tristan was somber, and who wouldn’t be after losing everything they had in a fire, but there was something about him I didn’t like. I liked Pearl as she was determined to get to the bottom of this terrible crime. Her father had now become an alcoholic and an embarrassed member of the community. I thought the ending was interesting, it definitely tied everything together. I received a copy of this novel from a Goodreads Giveaway- thank you to the publisher and to Goodreads.
ahyperboliclife More than 1 year ago
I actually really wanted to like this more than I did. I was looking for small town mystery and family secrets creating this dark and atmospheric story and I don’t feel like all of that was fulfilled. The story was mostly obvious and underdeveloped. The Lies They Tell follows Pearl Haskins as she tries to find answers about the Garrison tragedy, where a mysterious fire left only one family member alive. As Pearl grows closer to Tristan Garrison she looks to uncover the lies and betrayal surround that night. Things I Liked The writing was beautifully atmospheric. It fit perfectly with the setting and the mystery. There was this ethereal air that kept you slightly removed from the story, but in a good way. It was like keeping a secret, there was always more to know. Things I Didn’t Like I found the mystery to be relatively weak. This really isn’t a story about Pearl befriending the lone survivor of a tragedy to uncover a mystery, it’s more about her dating outside of her social class and navigating a judgemental best friend. The characters mostly just felt there. I didn’t connect with any of them, or any of their relationships. I think the one that hooked me the most was Pearl and her father - because I’m always here for familial relationships, but there wasn’t a lot of it. The characters felt very distinct, not like they were a part of the same story. I thought the ending was a bit of a letdown. It felt unfinished and unsatisfying and not in a mysterious “anything can happen” way, but in a “nothing at all happened and there’s no resolution way.” Like I said, I feel like this was just weak overall for me. I was looking for a thrilling mystery that combined family, secrets, and small-town drama, but The Lies They Tell felt very surface level to me. I wanted a deeper, more complex story, but this was incredibly easy to read - even if it did frustrate me at times.
SMParker More than 1 year ago
THE LIES THEY TELL is my third book by French and she has quickly become one of my favorite authors. Reliably, her haunting, gorgeous prose effortlessly peels back the layers of a masterful mystery. Her latest work transports you to the dark coast of Maine where big secrets lurk in small towns. Privileged summer families, working class locals, murder, intoxicating boys and a fierce heroine converge in this novel perfect for fans of mysteries, Maine and expertly crafted character-driven novels.