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I’ve read The Lies We Told by Camilla Way back in August with a request to review it in October. What I would usually do in this case is review it right after reading and keeping the post in the Drafts until October.
However, with holidays and lots of stuff happening during the last two months, it slipped my mind. So now, I’ll try to write the review from memory, as sadly I forgot a lot of details. But the overall impression of a well-crafted psychological thriller with lots and lots of secrets involved remained with me ever since.
There are two storylines in the book that eventually converge. One is set in the present, while the other happens in the past.
Clara’s boyfriend, Luke, goes missing, and everyone believes Luke left Clara and just took the easy way out. Clara, however, doesn’t believe that. They’ve just moved in together, and everything seemed to be going well for them. Nowhere did Clara have the feeling that Luke would cheat on her, love her less, or wouldn’t want to be with her anymore.
So when she wakes up on morning with Luke gone, while his mobile (cell) phone is still at home, she slowly figures out that he never arrived home the night before. He left from work and simply disappeared. So if he didn’t leave her, maybe he had an accident and is lying somewhere unconscious in a hospital? What happened with Luke?
The second story (that takes place a few decades in the past) features Beth and her daughter Hanna, who is far from a good daughter. She is quite a bit different from the normal children in the neighborhood, and the more she grows up, the easier it is to notice her strange character. So much that even Hanna’s parents can’t ignore it any longer. Something isn’t quite right with their beloved daughter.
The author weaves her way between the two storylines, and with every page we learn more about Hannah and about Luke. It seems that there are lots of layers to both these people, and things are not quite as they initially seemed. There are secrets that are bursting to come to surface, but those secrets could destroy a lot of people in the process. And, boy, there are a lot of secrets in this book!
The book is a page-turner from the beginning to the end. We are let in the mystery with everything new that Clara discovers, and things are becoming stranger with each page. For example, Clara knew that Luke had a stalker, but is now his disappearance a case of abduction, or are the two things not even related? And how does Hanna come into the picture, if at all?
Besides the great storyline, what I enjoyed above all was the way the author portrayed the main characters. I think Hanna stayed the strongest with me. She is a true psychopath, and it was interesting to read her development over the years, how her first “symptoms” occurred, and how Beth tried to do everything a mother could to do “treat” her daughter.
By lavishing her with all the love she could give, Beth hoped that Hanna would grow out of this strange phase. And then came the realization that Hanna was, in fact, deranged from birth, and there was really nothing one could do to fix her.
Beth herself is a real character, a mother who loves her child above all. I can’t imagine a mother behaving any different than Beth did in the book when confronted with such a heavy burden.
Clara is also someone worth talking about. She never believed that Luke left her willingly, and she would not give up in her search for him. She would talk to all his friends and anyone who knew him. She would dig until the final truth would be revealed. And what a final reveal that was! I honestly didn’t see that coming. But, it was a perfect ending to the book.
After reading The Lies We Told, I will be checking out Camilla Way’s other books, as she is now one of my new favorite British psychological thriller authors.