Title: If I Lie
Author: Corrine Jackson
Rating: 5 Stars
Release Date: August 28th, 2012
If I Lie is easily one of the better written contemporary debuts I've come across this year, if not the best. It is powerful, thought-provoking, and is beautifully written. While it touches upon a variety of subjects and something or the other is constantly happening throughout the novel, at its core, it is a character-driven story like no other. I guess if I had to, I’d describe If I Lie as a cross between The Scarlet Letter and Speechless, but really, it is a novel that manages to hold its head high and stand all on its own, for although it covers a similar subject matter, it also covers so much more. It is a novel not only about bearing burdens, facing a cold shoulder of shame, torn families, friendship, and the army; it is also a story about hope and perseverance and the ability to find strength and courage even in the darkest of times.
When Sophie Topher Quinn is caught kissing a guy – a guy who isn’t her marine boyfriend, Carey – it is the worst thing she can ever do in her small town. Where Sophie lives, nearly every family has had, or still does have, relatives in the army, so when Carey goes MIA, far from being ostracized, she is utterly ruined. Yet, the truth of the matter is this: Sophie didn’t cheat on Carey. Nevertheless, despite her innocence, Sophie is forced to take the blame for her heinous act because not doing so would reveal the truth - a truth that would break Carey apart. If that isn’t enough on her plate, Sophie is constantly compared to her mother who left her military father years ago, running away with his brother instead. In a world of lies, where Sophie is branded as a whore, a traitor, and must deal with her broken grief about her ex-boyfriend’s status in the military, it seems uncertain that the truth will ever come out.
If I Lie is an intense and heart-breaking read. I think what struck me the most about this novel though, for all the issues it undertook, was the fact that every character was multi-dimensional. I don't know how it would be like to have a mother who cheated on my father or have friends who shun me or be a mother who abandoned her child, but I felt all those emotions and understood the reasoning behind these acts so clearly. Jackson paints such a vivid and unforgiving picture of Sophie's life, of what she's been through, of what the people she's known have been through, and of what compels them to make the actions that they make that I am simply in awe of her skill. Here, dear readers, is an author to look out for.
What else is there to look out for in this compelling read? Well, first and foremost, you will need tissue boxes for this novel - I don't care how freaking cold-hearted you are, you will need them. I didn't think I would and honestly, I didn't cry when all sorts of horrible things happened to Sophie, but I did sob my eyes out when it came to George, the old veteran who becomes a father-figure to Sophie and is an integral part of this story. I
loved love George and he totally wins the award for my favorite character in this tale, especially because he is the sole person who sees Sophie for who she is and fails to buy into the gossip surrounding her. Sophie too is so incredibly strong that I can't help but admire her. I think most people think of kick-ass heroines as women who have fighting prowess or can take down a man, but I think what makes someone kick-ass is their inner strength and ability to go on in life without letting the troubles of life bring you down and Sophie is truly incredible. More than anything else though, she is an inspirational character and a headstrong woman, possessing all the qualities I love, not only in a character, but in a friend.
Yet, its wonderful characters and its richly developed and realistic relationships aside, I think one of the best things about this novel is its ability to have silver linings despite all the sorrow within it. Yes, it is an intense and emotional read and yes, Sophie goes through some terrible situations both in school and her community, but despite all of that, at the end it is her who comes out as a stronger person and one who knows who her true friends are. Furthermore, the messages and themes that come out of this novel are so realistic and have such a large degree of truth to them that you cannot help but ponder over them for hours afterwards. Even the romance, which is subtle, takes a well-deserves backseat to the other issues this story tackles, and is the very definition of bittersweet; and the rocky relationships Sophie sustains with her parents, which gradually develop into something better while managing to maintain its realistic roots, contain such deep and provocative messages that they will keep you thinking into the wee hours of the night.
I can say so much more about this book, but I almost don’t want to. I don’t want my interpretation of this story and its characters to influence yours. I want everyone to go into this novel not knowing what to expect and emerge from it a tear-stricken mess, but one whose heart is infinitely lighter and happier than it was before. If you like Melina Marchetta, Hannah Harrington, Markus Zusak, or Kirsty Eagar novels, you'll love this one. It follows the same themes of self-discovery, strength, and family that those authors often write about and If I Lie is a debut that simply cannot be missed. It will make you think. It will make you reflect. It will make you sob. It will make you smile. It is so realistic that I am floored by the unique path
chose to take this novel on and I love her all the more for it. I am so grateful to have gotten a chance to read this novel just days before its release as I might have overlooked it in favor of the other reads releasing on the same day, but believe me, this is utterly remarkable. I don't believe I've ever had occasion to say this before, but if you skip out on this phenomenal tale, then you are truly missing out. Read it. Jackson