August 7, 2018

How We Learned to Lie by Meredith Miller | Blog Tour & Review

How We Learned to Lie

By Meredith Miller
Published on July 31, 2018
384 Pages
Young Adult, Contemporary

This book was provided to me from Edelweiss and The Fantastic Flying Book Club in exchange for an honest review. I swear on my bookshelf that this has not affected my opinion of the book.
Violence in the small, suburban town of Highbone, Long Island, is escalating, and best friends Joan and Daisy are finding themselves in the centre 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.

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Anyone who has friends (which I hope includes everyone reading this) knows that friendship is not always pretty. Friends bicker over food, directions, clothes. Contrary to popular belief best friends are not the same person--friendship does not erase a person's unique personality. However, when friendship is even addressed (which is not as often as I would like) the focus is on the happy, sunshine version of friendship that involves warm, fuzzy feelings without the hardships of friendship. Friends are supporting characters and stay true to their assigned role--supporting the character in everything that they do without much conflict.

How We Learned to Lie thankfully does not cater to the picture-perfect vision of friendship or life. Highbone is not a nice town and Daisy and Joan's friendship is not perfect. And they are both interesting in their imperfections. You may not like Highbone, but you will love to hate it. You will learn who works it, how it works, and maybe even why it works that way it does.

The story is told through the alternating perspectives of both Daisy and Joan, with each voice distinctive and evocative. I didn't even need the chapter headings to tell which character was speaking. At some points, I couldn't even believe that the POVs were written by the same author. Daisy and Joan aren't opposites exactly, but they are complements to each other, both in style and personality. Each one was fully fleshed out as a character with their own worldviews, desires, and complications. I have to admit that I liked Daisy's chapters more (probably just because I can relate to him more) but Joan's chapters were also enlightening. Miller's descriptive and thoughtful style pervades both voices and adds consistency in a world driven by disaster.

How We Learned to Lie is very much a character-driven story. Daisy's and Joan's experiences and contrasting perceptions of those experiences create the entire story. Even though I enjoyed both of their voices, I wished that there was more action. The beginning of the novel started off slowly, with more foundation for suspense than action. The novel is told as if Daisy and Joan are actually telling the reader a story around a campfire, a scary story with more background and underlying tension than forward motion. There were constant hints about something huge happening, but the pay-off was very small in the first two-thirds of the story.

As a character-driven novel, How We Learned to Lie excels in telling a story focused on friendship, family, and all of the relationships that define our lives, the good, the bad, and the deadly. The nasty and gritty details of life are not sugar-coated, but rather dealt with through the struggles of two brutally honest teenagers. Despite the title, this story does not lie about the hardships of life or the difficulties of being a teenager in a world that wants to eat you alive.

About the Author

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 nine-teenth-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
  • US Only
  • Ends on August 13 (CLOSED)

Who is your friendship OTP in YA? What do you think about how friendship is represented in YA? Are you planning on reading How We Learned to Lie?

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