Violence in the small, suburban town of Highbone, Long Island, is escalating, and best friends Joan and Daisy are finding themselves in the center of it.
Joan has always been fascinated by the inner workings of living things: dogfish, eels, stingrays. But the more she sees of life outside her microscope, the more she realizes that people aren’t as easy to read as cells on a slide, and no one, not even Daisy, tells the truth.
Daisy’s always wished he had a family more like Joan’s, and that desire has only grown since his dad went to jail. But not even Joan can help Daisy keep his deadbeat older brother from putting everyone close to them in more danger.
When tragedy strikes too close to home, Joan and Daisy need each other more than ever. But no matter how hard they try, their secrets and lies have driven them apart. It’s only a matter of time before their friendship, just like their town, goes up in flames.
How We Learned to Lie by Meredith Miller
Published on July 2018 by HarperCollins
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
A dark and explorative read, How We Learned to Lie is about a community and how its violence weaves into the lives of children. The small town atmosphere of the novel is filled with tension; this book focuses deeply on its characters whose emotions are vividly described on the page. Miller’s writing style twists itself to build on the lies told by the characters. The voices are gritty, mean, and yet so full of grief.
Although the main characters of the book, Daisy and Joan are simply bystanders in the harmful lifestyle of their suburban town, Highbone. Joan immerses herself in facts and science to get away from the absence of her mother while Daisy invests time talking to a woman he has never seen. This is the story of children who grow up and apart; it is an examination of how children cling to each other in the turmoil of change, of the secrets they keep trying to cling to the only constant in their life: their friendship. I especially loved how Miller portrayed the confusion of these children and how they would rather confide in strangers than each other. It really captures the difficulty of growing up and trying to understand one’s identity apart from their family and friends.
There are subplots of murder and drugs, abuse and corruption, told from the perspective of Daisy and Joan. We know that a community shapes its children and in How We Learned to Lie, Miller reveals the struggle of those who try to escape it.
How We Learned to Lie is a very slow moving read; for some it may feel like nothing is happening but those who like books that are more like an examination of people will enjoy this read.
Meredith Miller is the author of Little Wrecks and How We Learned to Lie. She grew up in a large, unruly family on Long Island, New York, and now lives in the UK. She is a published short story writer and literary critic with a great love for big nineteenth-century novels and for the sea. Her short stories have appeared most recently in Stand, Short Fiction, Prole, Alt Hist, and The View from Here.
Prize: 2 hardcover copies of HOW WE LEARNED TO LIE by Meredith Miller
US ONLY! Ends on August 13, 2018.
Follow the entire tour on the Fantastic Flying Book Club!
Thank you to Fantastic Flying Book Club and Harper Collins for the review copy.