Review: My Life With the Liars by Caela Carter
Author: Caela Carter
Publication Date: March 8, 2016
Format/Source: eARC/From publisher via Edelweiss
Age Group/Genre: Middle Grade/Contemporary, Religion
Perfect for fans of Mockingbird and Counting by 7s, Caela Carter’s middle grade debut is a story of one girl’s strength and courage as she decides who she is and what she will believe in.
Behind the white-washed walls of the compound, life was simple. Follow the rules, “live in the Light,” and all would be well. Zylynn was excited to turn thirteen and begin the work of bringing others into the light, to save them from the liars and the darkness of the outside world. But when she is taken away by a man who claims to be her father, Zylynn is confused and desperate to return to her home.
Zylynn resists her new life—until she finds small comforts like shampoo, the color pink, and strawberries. But as her thirteenth birthday approaches, Zylynn must make a difficult decision—to stay with the enemy or find her way back to the light. And neither may be what it seems. (Cover and synopsis from Goodreads.)
My Life With the Liars was like a breath of fresh air. I had just read a few books that I really didn’t love, but within the first few pages, I could tell My Life With the Liars was going to be different. Immediately I was captivated. This voice was unique, different not only because it’s a Middle Grade novel but also because of the subject matter and just because of this compelling character of Zylynn.
I’m not religious myself, but I’m so drawn towards books about cults and I think this book tackles that subject in such a unique and poignant way. Because this is told from the point of view of Zylynn, who has grown up within the cult and is now being taken out of the cult, we get to see her eyes open as she experiences the world in a way that sheds light on what we all take for granted. There are also flashbacks to her time in the cult, for readers like me who really want to see that aspect.
I also really loved the fact that in so many movies, I’ve seen scenes where adults are trying to communicate with a child who has been hurt or abused in some way, and the child often won’t speak or behaves in what seems like an erratic way. And when this happens, we usually see the adults’ points of view: their exasperation, their passion for helping the child, their perseverance to get through to the child in some way, or their cry of defeat when they feel like their efforts are fruitless. Yet in My Life With the Liars, we see these scenes from Zylynn’s point of view. We know why she hesitates when people try to communicate with her. We understand why she is extremely wary of the things she is given, and why she hoards food and is so protective of her belongings. We see the exasperation and the confusion in the faces of the adults around her, but we get her point of view, and it becomes more about her, and her troubles, and not about the adults and their efforts. I can’t really explain how much I LOVED this aspect of My Life With the Liars.
My Life With the Liars was an extremely compelling, quick moving story that kept me up reading for hours. I’m a super slow reader and I read it in one day. I’m also not a big crier and yet it turned on the waterworks. It was full of these interesting moral dilemmas and fascinating characters. So, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, let me tell you my rating for My Life With the Liars by Caela Carter:
5 huge stars. I’ll definitely have to check out some of Caela Carter’s other books.