Hawthorn Creely couldn’t care less.
When Hawthorn hears about Lizzie’s disappearance, she expects that to be the end of it. But then instead of moving on with her life, Hawthorn accidentally becomes part of the investigation. As she learns more about Lizzie, Hawthorn also inserts herself more and more into Lizzie’s life. The only one who seems to understand or want to help is Lizzie’s boyfriend, Enzo.
The closer Hawthorn gets to the truth, the more it feels like her own life is falling apart. When Hawthorn finally digs through all of the lies surrounding Lizzie and her disappearance she will have to decide if there is room for unexplained phenomenon and wondrous moments in a world that is all too painfully real in The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett (2017) by Chelsea Sedoti.
The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett is Sedoti’s debut novel.
Hawthorn is a quirky, fascinating heroine and an engaging unreliable narrator. Her voice is offbeat, sardonic and convincingly tone-deaf given her initially self-centered attitude. Although Hawthorn is jaded and solitary, she is painfully aware her friends maturing and changing while she wants everything to stay the same. Hawthorn still wants to believe in a world where magic is possible; a world where a girl turning into a werewolf is not only likely but also a plausible explanation for her disappearance.
Sedoti’s story is weird and entertaining but, for most of the novel, still an effective mystery with suspense surrounding Lizzie’s whereabouts. Unfortunately, the mystery thread ultimately falls flat with a reveal that, while predictable, is frustrating and problematic.
***Spoilers ahead as I discuss specific plot points.***
Reactions to The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett may come down to if readers are willing to follow the author straight to the end of the line on this wacky ride. Which I usually am. Some readers will not, especially give how very strange this story eventually gets.
I am more than willing to go along with a novel involving werewolves and even Hawthorn’s infatuation and relationship with Lizzie’s boyfriend, Enzo, who is twenty-five. (Hawthorn is seventeen.)
What didn’t work and what I can’t support, is the way The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett wrapped up. By the end of the story Hawthorn learns that Lizzie has been found. She hanged herself in the woods when she and Enzo were camping but it took weeks to find her. For most of the novel while Hawthorn is trying to figure out what happened to Lizzie, Lizzie is dead in the woods.
This reveal is as much of a gut punch for readers as it is for Hawthorn. After spending an entire novel spinning tales about what might have happened and trying to find answers, this story ends with a stark truth. Lizzie was unhappy, she didn’t get the help she needed. She is gone.
While this resolution is realistic and leads to some positive growth for Hawthorn, I’m tired of it. Suicide isn’t a plot device and it shouldn’t be treated as a plot twist. It felt unfair to Hawthorn and Enzo, unfair to Lizzie, and unfair to readers all of whom deserved more. I read this book as an advance review copy and I haven’t seen a finished copy yet but I’m also concerned that this book isn’t going to have enough information about suicide prevention given the offhand way it’s handled in the book.
The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett will appeal to readers who are (or were) the weird kid in high school, the ones who don’t know where they fit yet, and readers with a taste for black humor. Readers outside of those, admittedly, niche audiences will be better served waiting to see what this promising author does next.
Possible Pairings: Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira, The Book of Werewolves by Sabine Baring-Gould, The Howling by Gary Brandner, The Werewolf of Paris by Guy Endore, The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy by Kate Hattemer, The Truth Commission by Susan Juby, Liar by Justine Larbalestier, Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma, Wherever Nina Lies by Lynn Weingarten
*An advance copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review consideration at BEA 2016*