Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Carnegie shadowing review - There will be Lies

Imagine a weave of really big themes, Native American mythology, police pursuit, a lost child, dream sequences and a really brilliantly portrayed snarky deaf girl - oh and lies - and you have Nick Lake's US-set thriller ‘There Will be Lies’. Buckle up for a bumpy ride.

The whole story is told from the point of view of Shelby, who is nearly eighteen, but has been brought up living a very sheltered, very routine existence of books, baseball, ice cream dinners; home-schooled by her mum, Shaylene. 

We spend the whole journey in Shelby’s shoes and boy, do we get a great, multi-dimensional heroine. And she needs to be tough for the journey she takes us on.

We are catapulted into action when Shelby has an accident, and immediately the outside world threatens to intrude into their very contained and private existence and she and her mother take off, her mother exhibiting increasingly erratic and violent behaviour and Shelby not really knowing what is going on.

As if that's not enough, Shelby has vivid dreams that taken on greater importance as the story develops. All her life Shelby has had a recurring dream about a child in hospital, crying, and Shelby wanting to save the child, but never being able to get to her and now she is given a quest in the dream world that she must kill the crone and save the child or the world will end.

The twin stories increasingly collide as the story progresses, with Shelby forced to face horrible truths about her life. Soon Shelby won’t know who to trust and there will never be any going back.

The lies Shelby must face would be devastating for anyone, yet she shows amazing resilience, using the journey she is doing in the Dreaming to help her to deal with the truths she must face up to.

The real strength of this book is not even that the twin stories are told with panache and thrills. It's the main character, Shelby that holds the whole thing together. 

She deals with the extraordinary and the tough bravely, particularly for someone who has known so little of the world. 

But what is most impressive, in an already impressive book, is that the main character is profoundly deaf. The way she responds to the world and the world responds to her is so skilfully done, her deafness giving the story yet another dimension, actually sometimes softening the huge emotional rollercoaster she is going through as she has to struggle to understand at all what everyone is trying to communicate and to make herself heard.

There are rich themes explored here – nature versus nurture, how sometimes people can love us and want the best for us, yet still trick us, so that, ultimately, the biggest reward you can achieve is of self-reliance.

But Shelby is a character you are rooting for the whole way.

Shelby may also just be strong enough to run away with the Carnegie Medal this year.

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