Charlie, a senior, isn't looking forward to her last year of high school. Another year of living in the shadow of her best friend, Lila. Another year of hiding behind the covers of her favorite novels. Another year of navigating her tense relationship with her perfectionist mom.
But everything changes when she meets her new English teacher. Mr. Drummond is smart. Irreverent. Funny. Hot. Everyone loves him. And Charlie thinks he's the only one who gets her.
She also thinks she might not be the only one with a crush.
In this stunning debut, Jessica Alcott explores relationships-and their boundaries-in a way that is both searingly honest and sympathetic.
First of all, I don't understand what's with the John-Green-Lauren-Oliver-Sarah-Dessen comparison in the blurb. My, if there ever was a book LESS likely, it would be this. I present to you the frustratingly pointless Even When You Lie to Me.
The book started off with great potential, but I quickly found myself getting frustrated with every turning page. Reason? Charlie. *sighs* Possibly and probably the most annoying MC I've read of so far this year. She thinks she's ugly, boring, plain, unpopular. Yes, I understand we all go through issues like this during puberty. Normal, yeah? And I have no problem reading about insecure characters because I always try to empathize with them. Body image and popularity within peer groups is something very important during adoloscence, so I completely understand what the author was trying to convey here. But what I don't see is- where's this headed?
We saw ZERO growth in Charlie's character. I've been in this situation one too many times when being with friends who are prettier/ more popular, but seriously? It's like Charlie only has these thoughts. She took great pleasure in self-pity. She was forever comparing herself with her bestfriend, and was even forever at daggers with her mom, who frankly, was just normal. If the author was trying to conjure an annoying-mom image here, she clearly failed. It's always her being green-eyed over her mother, her friends, her teachers or over the whole world in general. Take a look at a few selected quotes:
"She stripped off her shorts in one swift movement and turned her back as she lifted her shirt up. I couldn’t help looking. Her body was beautifully simple, an unbroken sine wave of curves. My skin didn’t fit the same way; it puckered and spilled out in places as if whoever had engineered me hadn’t bought enough fabric."
“Who are you texting?” I asked, glancing at the wall clock. Two minutes till the morning bell. I pressed my hand against the bump on my head as if I were trying to stop it from spreading.
“What?” Lila said, looking up. “Oh, just some dudebro I gave my number to at ShopRite.”
This always happened to Lila. We didn’t talk about the fact that it didn’t happen to me.
"Every time Lila hooked up with someone, I felt worse; another guy and her tally of conquests pulled further and further away from mine. It was particularly depressing because mine was zero. I knew I wasn’t supposed to mind. I didn’t want to mind. I pretended not to mind. I hoped someday I actually wouldn’t."
Oh, and Charlie's hormones wreaking havoc only made me cringe. It's not like guys weren't interested in her. They were. She just LOVED ignoring obvious facts and enjoyed wallowing in self-pity and thinking of what she didn't/couldn't have. A few quotes which had me cringing:
"Every once in a while I couldn't help looking at the bulge where sometimes the seams of his jeans would push against—"
WHEN HE WAS TEACHING YOUR CLASS? Okay.
"Sometimes when he stretched, I watched his shirt pull taut against his torso; there was something erotic about seeing the fabric straining upward.."
"I thought about being alone with him, working on the newspaper at night, resting my head on his shoulder in frustration. He’d wrap his arm around me and rub my shoulder. I’d look down and notice he had a giant—"
I would have liked it if we had at least witnessed her character growth, but no. We didn't, which brings me to my main concern. What was the point of this book? Imagine a similar girl, in a similar situation reading this. What would she get out of this book? Keep on depreciating yourself and screw over the lives of teachers you take a fancy to? I mean, yeah, the teacher, Drummond, was to blame too- he did turn out to be sick, but ugh. Charlie was clearly VERY messed up. She needed therapy, why did no one see it?!!
At least something should have come out of this whole story- Charlie learning a lesson, Drummond learning his lesson, a message saying that this is just not right. Anything! The author had a huge responsibility to make this really potential story work out in at least an okayish manner, but she didn't do it justice. If anything, she would have corrupted the mind of the reader. There were too many subject that are fundamentally very wrong that are just not appropriate for teens, God save even younger readers.
Final verdict: There's nothing in this book. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zero.
The realization of the story: 1/5
The characters: 1/5
Enjoy factor: 1/5